Ultimate Guide: How To Save Money On Flights

May 22

Are you sick and tired of paying for expensive flights?

Are you getting FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) from your Instagram feed of all your friends in far off destinations, while you are stuck in your cubicle because flights are so damn expensive?

Well don't worry Turkey Crew!

We got you!

The truth is: you don't need to spend an arm and a leg to travel in style and today we're going to share all our money saving secrets with you!

As part of an ongoing Ballin' On A Budget series, in today's article, we'll be deep diving into how to save money on the biggest travel expense: flights!

So if you haven't see the other articles in this series, be sure to check those out!

To make this even easier, we've created a free Travel Hacking Checklist with all our tips and tricks in one convenient pdf just for you! So be sure to grab it here! 

Ok now let's dive right in!

We're not going to lie, we've had to get pretty creative when it comes to saving money on transportation, but it's become our favorite way to significantly cut down the overall cost of a trip!

Quick Tips

Flight prices tend to fluctuate on a daily basis, so to ensure that you are getting the best prices on flights here are a few quick tips:

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    Use Kayak to set up a "price watch" reminder for your desired flights. It searches all the travel booking websites and will send you an update if the price of your flight has decreased or when it is the best time to purchase.
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    Purchase your flights at least 3 months in advance -- especially if you are booking as a group and want to sit together or you just hate the middle seat like we do 😉
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    Delete all browser cookies/cache and use an incognito or private browser window to search for flights. Trust us, this can save you hundreds of dollars! Booking sites use cookies to know which flights you are searching for and then use that information to increase the price of flights every time you search or refresh the webpage! #Sneaky

Cheap Gateway Cities

One of the biggest ways that we save on flights is being flexible on our dates and destinations.

For instance, when we were booking a 3 week trip to Europe in 2016, we knew we wanted to go Marrakesh, but direct round-trip flights there were $1494 from San Francisco. So we had to get creative and look for a cheaper "gateway" country to go to first that would be cheaper.

Our absolute favorite site for this is Google Flights because you can set your departure airport and date and use their "explore destinations map" feature to search for which close-by countries or cities have the cheapest one-way flights for your specific dates. Or if you're flexible about your dates you can also use their calendar feature to search for the cheapest flights within the month.

Because of this, we found out that the cheapest "gateway" countries from San Francisco into Europe are: Iceland, France, Spain and the United Kingdom (a one way flight to Iceland was $219 and it was direct)! And by being flexible with our dates, we were able go to Iceland, London, Marrakesh, Barcelona and Dublin for $1201 versus the $1494 to just Marrakesh.

Traveling Light

Everyone pretty much knows that one way to significantly save money on flights is by taking budget airlines, but the downfall of some budget airlines are their HUGE fees for carry-on baggage or not printing out your ticket (Ryanair charges €45... yikes).

So the options here are either to travel light -- aka only travel with a backpack -- or take the bullet and pay the $50 carry-on fee!

When we go to different continents like Europe, paying the $50 fee per flight would rack up to at least $250 if we went to 4 countries during our trip so we decided that we would rather spend that money enjoying activities or tours rather than paying an airline.  For our 2016 Eurotrip, we used that $250 to go on a helicopter ride over Barcelona!

Now we know what many of you must be thinking, "OMG how can you turkeys travel for 3 weeks to Europe in just a backpack? I could never do that!"

But the truth is: you definitely can!

It's a lot easier than you think! It just takes a little pre-planning, mixing and matching your outfits together, and making sure that your Airbnb has a washing machine.

In a future article, we will show you guys EXACTLY how we pack for a 3 week trip in a backpack to give you all our secret tips!


Ok are you guys ready??? This will blow your mind!

Credit cards and airlines will literally give you FREE flights or hotel stays!


Getting free or heavily discounted flights using airline rewards miles or credit card points is our FAVORITE thing ever! In fact, Athena can probably talk your ear off about the nuances of that topic alone on any given day if you let her!

Essentially, if you sign up for travel reward credit cards (like our favorite Chase Sapphire Preferred) they give you a signup bonus that equates to 1 or 2 free round trip flights! Plus you earn points for every dollar you spend! 

We use points to get free flights every year -- like the $700 round trip flight to Peru that Athena got for her birthday FOR FREE! In fact, this year she's planning on taking her points game to the next level by getting every single flight for free -- so stay tuned for that break down!

We have a lot of  strategies for earning points, but because it's such a huge topic we're going to save those for other posts later on.

Ok Turkeys, we hope you loved today's Ballin On A Budget Tips and we can't wait to hear how you put them to the test and saved money on your own trips! Let us know in the comments below!

And if you have any of your own strategies that we didn't list here, let us know too! We would LOVE to hear about it!

Also, be sure to download your free copy of our Ultimate Travel Hacking Checklist that has all of our money saving tips for hotels, flights, food, and more included in one convenient pdf!

Next time we'll be exploring how to save money on rental cars -- so stay tuned!

Till net time Turkey Crew! Peace Out!

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