If you’ve done any air travel at all, you already know just how expensive it can be. Between ticket costs, parking fees, and all of the other expenses associated with getting to and from your final destination, you can be in the hole financially before you even take off.
Does this mean that air travel has to come with a choice: either pay outrageous fees or give up some creature comforts when you travel, such as staying well hydrated and well fed? Not at all.
You can travel by plane without spending a fortune to do it, and here’s how.
Play Around with Your Travel Dates
Some dates are more expensive to fly than others. Among them are holidays and weekends, since this is when air travel is typically at its peak.
So, if you have some leeway with your travel plans, play around with the dates before you book the actual flight. You may be able to get your tickets at a cheaper price simply by traveling a few days earlier or later.
Generally speaking, flights taking off on a Tuesday and Wednesday tend to be cheaper. Also keep in mind that traveling around a major holiday often costs more as well. Therefore, if you can avoid these times, you can usually save money then as well.
Do a Layover
Many people prefer a non-stop flight because it gets you from point A to point B as quickly as possible. While this is true, these flights also cost more, sometimes by hundreds of dollars.
Instead, look at flights that involve having a layover. Yes, it may add more time to your travel, but if you can save a few bucks, it may be worth it.
Plus, it can be fun to check out places you’ve never been. If your layover is long enough, you can even take your savings and use it to check out some local sights.
Search for Parking Coupons
Park at the airport itself and you’ll likely spend more than $20 a day to leave your vehicle. Yet, many offsite parking lots offer cheaper deals, especially if you reserve your spot in advance. You just have to look for them.
Before your trip, do a search for “airport parking discounts near [your airport]” and see what you can find. Some hotels also allow you to park on-site for free if you stay with them the night before you leave, making this a cheaper option if you plan on being gone for a bit.
Only Take a Carry On
Because most airlines now charge for checked bags (unless you’re in their club or a frequent flyer), you can also reduce your air travel costs by only taking a carry-on.
Admittedly, this isn’t always an option, especially if you are going on an extended trip. But if you’re only going for a few days, packing light can save you $30 to $40 per person.
Remember too that it’s common to over-pack and take everything you think you’ll use while away. If this is you, be honest with yourself about what you actually need. Leave everything else at home.
Pack Your Own Food & Drink
If your flight is only an hour or two, you can likely get away with avoiding expensively priced airport food and drink. But if it’s longer or if you have a layover, you may not have a choice but to give in either before or during your flight.
To keep from paying top dollar in this type of situation, pack your own snacks. The Travel Security Administration (TSA) shares that a few of the items that they allow through security checkpoints without any issue are bread, cooked meat, solid cheese, cereal, crackers, candy, dried fruit, nuts, and pizza.
You can take an empty water bottle through security too. This enables you to stay hydrated because you can fill (and refill) it for free at airport refilling stations.