Travel Tips

Budget travel: Use flexible dates to save money

October 4, 2015
traveling on a budget tip 1

Once you’ve identified where your greatest costs are coming from, one of the first ways to cut down on trip expenses is…

Flexibility!

Even a little flexibility can save you a lot of money on airfare costs–and if you’re lucky, it might even buy you some extra vacation time.

Take a look at this flight research I’m doing. Kayak.com has an awesome feature that lets you compare different prices on various dates. You can use these flexible dates to save money. When you go to their site, underneath the orange “Search” button you’ll see a “Show flexible dates” link.

Budget travel: Use flexible dates to save money | Travel Tips

Click that link and you’ll get options that specify your flexibility (up to 3 days before or after your departure date). I generally go for maximum flexibility to see what my options are.

Budget travel: Use flexible dates to save money | Travel Tips

When you do a flexible search, Kayak displays a grid with various flight options representing all of your possible departure and return dates. The price for a given departure/return date represents the cheapest option they found for that day. It uses color coding to show pricing (red = expensive, white = average, green = cheap), which helps you visually identify patterns.

Budget travel: Use flexible dates to save money | Travel Tips

What this shows is that my original choices (departing on 1/1 and returning on 1/10) are not the best options. Based on this grid, the cheapest available ticket for my original date range is $1065. But if I left on the 3rd instead, I could save some serious money–almost $200, in fact.

Better yet, I can see from this that returning on the 13th doesn’t cost anything extra. That adds an extra day to my trip! Just by shifting the dates around a little bit, my trip is now 1 day longer and I’ve actually managed to save money so far.

At this point if I’m ready to drill down a bit more, I can click on the square in the grid which corresponds to the departure and return flight option that I like. Kayak will then filter the flight results in the list below to just that date range, so I can narrow my search even more and begin fine-tuning details like flight times and airlines.

That’s it for the first tip! Simple, right? It’s amazing how a little flexibility and advance planning can save you a lot of money. Go out and give it a try, and see how much money you can save on your flights alone. See you back here next week with the next tip!


Note: I’m not affiliated with Kayak.com. I just happen to really like their website and use it extensively when booking my own vacations. Hopefully you’ll find it useful, too!

Photo credit: free batjko / Foter / CC BY


 

2 Comments

  • Reply Traveling on a budget: Ready, set, explore! - Plethora, Etc.Plethora, Etc. October 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    […] time I discussed how even a little flexibility can save lots when booking flights. If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, though, you might […]

  • Reply Budget travel: What are the biggest travel expenses? - Plethora, Etc.Plethora, Etc. October 21, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    […] Using flexible dates to save money (and even let you extend your trip) […]

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