Traveling is expensive, especially when you are often flying. But just because someone can afford to fly tens of thousands of miles a year does not mean they enjoy spending. A few frequent frugal flyers have found a few travel hacks.
We asked frequent flyers for their top frugal tips to help save you money on your next flight.
1) Stop Buying Food At The Airport
An easy way to save is to avoid the markup at airports. The food at the airport is outrageously high.
Lokesh Pant, CEO of Bargain Air Ticket, recommends that flyers “stop falling for the expensive food trap at the airport. Always carry lightweight and healthy food like apples, bananas, chocolate bars, and even sandwiches. And make sure to carry an empty bottle to fill with potable water from the water source post-security.”
Katelynn, a full-time travel writer, agrees, “I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by never purchasing a single thing at an airport. Airport prices are absolutely insane and dependent on your lack of planning and organization. I was recently in an airport in Morocco, and the same water bottle I had just bought at a grocery store was six times higher at the airport! “Katelynn flies internationally several times a month.
2) Don’t Park At The Airport
Jenny, a professional travel blogger, says to avoid Parking at the airport, despite the convenience of driving yourself. She says, “Parking will cost you at least $10 daily throughout your trip. This is one expense you can definitely do without. You might also ask whether a friend or family member would be willing to pick you up and drive you there.”
3) E-Sim Card To Save On Phone And Data
Katelynn found another clever travel hack. She explains, “My biggest money-saving tip that I always practice when traveling internationally is using e-SIM cards. They’re often cheaper, have more data than physical SIM cards, and are easier to install. Many people don’t know about e-SIMS yet, but they are game changers!”
Katelynn offers this example, “I was in Italy a few weeks ago and used Airalo, and I’m in Portugal now, and I’m using MEO. These e-SIMs have consistently worked more reliably than big cellphone carriers which tend to charge a premium for a physical temporary SIM. I consistently had to travel without the internet on my phone until I was able to go to get a SIM card. Now I don’t have that problem anymore. I also get 25-30 GB of service for the same price as I was getting 5-7 GB from the major carriers, meaning I don’t have to keep reloading my cell service or constantly worry about running out of data.”
To find a local e-SIM, search “(country name) e-SIM,” and several options will pop up.
4) Avoid Peak Travel
One of the best ways to save money on a trip is to travel during off-peak times. This can either be off-peak during the week or off-season. Traveling off-peak frequently results in cost savings if your travel dates are flexible.
For instance, if you travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, you’ll typically find cheaper flights, and hotels are frequently less expensive during the week than on the weekends.
Anthony Radchenko, a co-founder at Air Advisor, explains, “Airlines and hotels often cut their prices when you visit vacation destinations during non-peak travel dates. For example, Florida’s off-season is from July to August. The main Florida tourist season runs from December to the end of April, as tickets are cheaper during this period.”
If you can hold off and book your vacation at the last minute, you may find better deals on anything from flights to hotel rooms to car rentals on websites like StressFreeCarRental.com. Being more adaptable about where you go and how long you stay is necessary for this to work. Still, the significant savings might be well worth it.
6) Exploit The “Hidden City” Ticketing Loophole
Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO at TravelFreak, shares his favorite travel hack. He uses the website Skiplagged, which detects airline companies’ pricing loopholes. It helps you book a flight where a layover happens at your destination.
A hidden-city flight is one where you get off at a layover city rather than the airline’s final destination. Skiplagged offers these hidden-city flights, which save travelers an average of $128 per ticket. Unlike other booking sites and airlines, the Skiplagged search portal is dedicated to finding these fares for users, ensuring they get the best deal possible.
Jeremy says, “I took advantage of the Skiplagged website while my trip to Dubai and booked a flight from LA to Bangkok with Dubai being the layover destination. And I simply (intentionally) missed the second leg of the flight.”
Dan Gellert, Chief Operating Officer, Skiplagged offers some additional insights, “For the best prices on hidden-city flights, book 0-12 days before departure to save an average of 47% on flights. For weekend trips you will get the best deals 3-5 days before departure.”
Avoid doing this hack too often, or the airlines may flag you.
7) Pack Light
It’s not a secret that airlines pile on baggage fees. Traveling light is one of the best ways to save money. The most common frugal tip we received from frugal frequent flyers was to travel light. You’ll avoid checking bags, save money on baggage fees, and avoid carrying luggage.
8) Bring a Pillow
Avoid checked baggage to ensure you don’t get charged a baggage fee or pay for overweight luggage. If you need extra space for clothes, bring a pillowcase and stuff it with clothes.
Airlines are obligated to let you bring a pillow on board. You can also roll your clothes up for more luggage space. A bonus is that you don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel after landing and can get right to your destination.
9) Stay On Top Of All Flying Sites
Before you book any travel, be sure to look for deals and discounts. Many websites and apps offer travel discounts, so take advantage of them. Many of us have heard about the major players like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, and Travelocity.
There are a few lesser-known travel sites worth exploring. Skyscanner and Hopper are great for booking flights because of their cheap rates and the option of comparing different flight rates.
10) Search For Nearby Airports
Use Google Flights to select the location you are flying from. Once you’ve selected the dates, Google Flights will show you flight prices for various locations.
For example, I traveled to Moab, Utah, from St. Louis a few weeks back. The flights were nearly $700 for each of us. We looked at Google Flights and saw that flying to Denver costs half as much. So we flew into Denver, rented a car, and drove 4 hours to Moab.
This was a great deal because we each saved on our plane ticket, and we needed to rent a car anyway. Plus, we had the flexibility to drive 4 hours both ways. But this is just one example. There are many airports close to the one you want to fly into.
11) Take Advantage Of Airlines Trying To Take Advantage of You
Airlines charge different amounts depending on who is shopping. For example, sometimes prices adjusted for metropolitan areas like LA and New York are automatically set high because of the higher average income in these areas.
Jeremy from Travel Freak says you should book your flight and hotel from a VPN network or your browser’s Incognito mode. You may find an excellent deal if you’re searching for prices and booking flights from a different device location. It might take some hunting and multiple attempts to get the best deal, but it would be worth it.
12) Use Miles And Points
Become a member of a frequent flyer program if you travel often. You will earn miles or points that can be used for free or discounted tickets. This tip seems obvious, but so many experts shared it with us that we decided to include it.
You can also find credit cards that offer points that can be applied to travel. While this may be an excellent strategy to save on travel, be careful about taking out too many credit cards.
13) Avoid Exchange Rate Fees
If you travel overseas often, consider using a credit card that specializes in low currency exchange rates. With these cards, you do not have to pay a fee to convert your money into a different currency.
These cards have a nearly perfect exchange rate, which means that
14) Kids Fly Free, or Discounted
Search several airlines to see if any provide free or cheap travel for children. Booking flights for family members can be a significant expense when arranging a family holiday. Thankfully, many airlines provide steep discounts (or even free plane tickets) for children of various ages.
American Airlines allows children under two to fly for free, and British Airways offers discounts of up to 75% off the adult cost for children who frequently fly with an adult.
Travel Does Not Need To Cost So Much
Traveling is expensive. But following the above tips from frugal frequent fliers will leave more money in your pocket.
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Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.