They say the only certain things are death and taxes. In 2022, we could add a third to this list of “certainties”. You’re almost certain to pay more this year for just about everything – including your next vacation. And with a majority of the country planning a trip in 2022 – we’re all in need of some cost-cutting tips. Luckily, CheapAir.com has a few to share. After all, we’re the experts on when to buy airline tickets to get the best prices domestically. And we also have some intel on the best time to buy international flights too. Basically, we have you covered wherever you plan to roam.
Let’s get into how to save some money!
Tip #1: Buy Early in the Prime Booking Window
We encourage you to check out our report on The Best Time to Buy Flights in 2022. This deep dive into exactly when you should buy for your set of circumstances is always a great place to start.
The lowest ticket prices can usually be found somewhere in the prime booking window. This “best time to buy” window in 2022 is from 3 weeks to 4 months out from your travel date. Now, in some years we might tell you that these good prices will almost certainly be there around 3 weeks out. This year, we encourage you to shop and buy on the earlier side. You’re much more likely to see a low fare 4 months from your travel date. Don’t wait! The airlines’ capacity problem is driving up prices.
Tip #2: Be flexible with as much as you can
To get the best deals on flights, hotels and car rental, you should be as flexible as you can and shop early and often. If you can be flexible about flying mid-week instead of the weekend, or even just adjust your flight dates a day or so in either direction, you could very well see big savings.
We recommend setting aside your airline preferences as well (or at least keeping an open mind). Sure, using your loyalty program MAY save you money, but it’s possible that flying another carrier or staying in a different hotel chain might give you greater savings. On CheapAir.com, you can also use one airline on your outbound flight and another on the return. We can often give our customers better (meaning lower) prices this way. Give it a try!
In addition, if you’re willing to stay at a hotel that is not right in the center of town, or are willing to use an off-airport car rental company, you might keep some coins in your pocket.
Tip #3: Don’t prioritize flight costs over hotels or rental cars
You should start shopping for hotels and cars at the same time you’re shopping for flights. Most people put off the hotel and car rental search until after they’ve secured their flights. Don’t do this in 2022. Some destinations, like Hawaii, offer cheap flights at the moment. If you like to buy your flights first, you might be tempted to jump on the low flight costs.
But wait! Hotel and condo availability is terrible in parts of the state -making prices for accommodation astronomical on many days this year. You should be planning to search early and often for hotel stays as well as car rentals – to make sure you can, in fact, book a reasonably-priced room and car for your dates.
Tip #4: Consider shoulder season for the biggest cost savings
This might be the biggest weapon in your arsenal – but it may take some adjusting of expectations. We know that many Americans travel during the summer months – but this summer is going to see unprecedented price increases.
A much better option would be to travel in the summer shoulder season if summer is your preference. For those that can swing it – the prices for domestic and international fall travel will easily save you hundreds of dollars – especially in destinations that see the biggest crowds during the summer months.
To get the best deals on flights, hotels and car rentals, you should be as flexible as you can and shop early and often. Here are a few more tips to use to put yourself in the best position.
Tip #5: Fly mid-week instead of the weekend
We mentioned this earlier, but we can’t stress it enough. We know that most Americans like to utilize the weekend for their vacation time, but it’s an industry secret that there’s almost always better value on flights if you can fly mid-week (Tuesday and Wednesday are the best).
Even though it sounds like a way to maximize your vacation experience to save your vacation days and travel on a Friday or Sunday, it’s not a great cost savings. You can usually save at least a few bucks, and often save quite a bit if you book a Tuesday or Wednesday flight. Consult the calendars on the CheapAir.com Summer flights page or the Europe Summer Flights page to see what we mean. The best deals all summer can be found mid-week.
Tip #6: Take the first or last flight of the day
The earliest flights often offer the best value. Why? Well, because they’re not as popular. A lot of people don’t like waking up with the birds, so those flights often save the traveler a few bucks. But what people may not know is that the earliest flights are also usually those that leave on time, and the airport is usually quiet with less travelers too! Late night (or red-eye) flights are also less popular, so also tend to be priced lower. Try it! You might find that the off hours are a reasonable trade-off to save some dough.
Pro-tip: If you do plan to arrive to your destination after a red-eye flight, see if your hotel will accommodate a very early check-in. That way, you can get to the hotel and crash for a few hours. It’s lovely to wake up refreshed in a hotel, ready to start your vacation this way!
Tip #7: Do an apples to apples comparison when flight shopping
We talked about this a little bit already – priming the pump for using the flexibility argument. It’s also true that if you book direct with the airlines, you won’t see the variety of flights we offer on CheapAir.com. You aren’t permitted to mix and match to get the lowest fare available. Basically, we show you low fares you really can’t get by booking direct.
When you book a flight with us, we’ll show you every possible outbound flight and every possible return. For example, you might find that booking United makes sense to get you to your destination, but Frontier makes sense on the return. Our easy, transparent flight search also shows you everything included on your ticket.
Tip #8: Price Drop Payback lets you lock in your fare without too much risk
No other company offers the guarantee we do up front. If you book a flight with CheapAir, you get a little built-in insurance with Price Drop Payback. Should a fare go down after you purchased flights, we will cover the difference up to $100. If you get $100 on a set of tickets for a family of 4, that’s an additional $400 you can put toward your vacation plans.
Tip #9: Monthly Payments help you manage costs up front
What if you did everything right and still ended up with a pricey ticket? Unfortunately, that’s going to occur this summer – for a lot of people. You can take the edge off that sticker shock by paying with Monthly Payments. We partner with Affirm to bring travelers an easy and affordable way to pay for flights and hotels over time – so you’re not out of pocket up front for the most expensive part of your trip. And you don’t even have to have a credit card to qualify.
Tip #10: Manage your own expectations
This may seem a bit obvious, but part of the challenge this year is that many of us have been cooped up and are chomping at the bit for a vacation. We urge you to remember that airfare is still not as expensive as it was pre-pandemic, and understand that getting back to travel is going to be a little expensive for a while. But aren’t we all lucky we’re able to get back to it!
We hope these 10 tips help you with trip planning this year. Please feel free to ask other questions or offer your own tips in the comments section below. We’re here to help!