If it’s one thing I learned to do as a broke college student with champagne taste on an orange juice budget, it’s how to plan a vacation for THE LOW. Quick shoutout to my dear friend Chelsea a.k.a. my travel agent/buddy who has passed down her ways to yours truly.
If y’all read my post about how I’ve been saving HUNDREDS of Dollars every month, you all know how serious I am about saving and stretching these coins. This year I planned a vacation to Los Angeles for $500 (give or take) and I want to give you the tea on how to plan a vacation on a budget.
Quick Breakdown of my trip:
Roundtrip Non-Stop Fare from NYC to LA : $240* (JetBlue)
Accommodations (Mini-Studio Apartment in LA): $240* (AirBnB; details on cheap stay coming soon; sign up for my newsletter to get alerted 🙂 )
*Subjected to fees/taxes; not included
Booking the fight
Stalk the tickets prices
As soon as you’ve decided on your vacation destination begin, start looking at the prices of plane tickets. I’ve been looking at ticket prices since December. I also set up alerts on different sites to notify me when ticket prices have dropped.
Best times to Book (from my personal experience)
- Book 21 -35 days in advance; Prices of tickets are usually higher any further in advance and closer to the day of travel
- Tuesday Morning, before 3 pm. Over the 6 weeks or so that I watched ticket prices this literally has been the optimal day to book. Allegedly, Airlines put their deals online Monday Night/ Tuesday Morning and airlines try to match one another throughout the day. If you want a GOOD deal stalk ticket prices closely during this time and book as soon as you find a good deal.
Don’t plan your trip during holidays or peak season
You’re begging for high ticket prices if you do; basic principle of supply and demand my friends. If you want to be in the loop and book trips around major travel holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day or even Christmas. Be a little flexible with your departures days and times. Even consider going the weekend prior or after.
Be open to flying at odd times and days of the week and/or taking connecting flights.
I didn’t opt for getting a connecting flight because I’m not a fan of layovers, especially if I’ traveling alone. However, because I booked flights at not so optimal times of the day, my fare was low. I flew out on a Thursday at 6 am and returning on a 3:40 pm flight on a Monday.
Check airlines websites AND travel sites…daily
Websites like Priceline, Expedia, and Kayak promise to give the lowest prices for airfares but when I took the time to check all these sites and the individual airlines, booking straight from Jet Blue actually had the best prices.
Be willing to take the time to really price tickets so you don’t cheat yourself. I LOVE flying JetBlue and my Roundtrip ticket was $240 +fees so that was a big win. At one point I saw tickets as low as $187 but I missed out by waiting too long.
Clear your browser history
As you have probably seen with Facebook who literally stalks anything that you ever google, your browser saves search info. Allegedly, travel booking sites and airline websites use this information to boost up prices because you searched for flights to X destination 10 Million times.
I actually tested this out and the prices shown on my phone (where I googled searched plane tickets a million times) we’re in fact a tab bit higher than the prices when I looked on my computer.
You may also love to read about how I actually saved over $500 in just one month
Getting to the Airport
Airport Shuttles are cool but they do typically pick up additional passengers along the way and will run you $40 flat (at least). I prefer just taking a good ole fashion Uber. NOW, Uber allows you to schedule in advance with a price estimate; the app reminds you of your scheduled trip and notifies you when the driver is in route.
Lastly, you can always grab a friend or family member that’s willing to take you for little to nothing out of the kindness of their heart 🙂
If you see a great deal, don’t press your luck.
Booking flights don’t have to nerve-racking or expensive.
If you’re looking to save money on flights, be sure to pin this post for later.
You may also like to Know How I Saved $500 in just one month with these tips.