By the time you read this I will be up in the air and on my way to NYC.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to bite the bullet and come visit my sweet friend, Abby, who just moved to the city at the beginning of July for work. New York has always been one of my favorite cities and I am lucky enough that I’ve always had at least one friend in the city for the last 6 years so I get to visit!
I made the spur of the moment decision with my friend Chelsea after a couple of glasses of wine that we’d go visit Abby ASAP. Unfortunately, for us, the only weekend that would work was less than 2.5 weeks away so flights were expensive.
Here are my favorite cheap travel tips.
1. Invest in an airline credit card or loyalty program.
If you can, I would definitely invest in a credit card or loyalty program through your favorite airline. I almost exclusively fly Southwest, so we have a Southwest credit card. With most airline credit cards you typically earn one point for every $1 that you spend and then two points for every $1 you spend towards flights, car rentals, and hotels. With the Southwest card, if you charge $1,000 to the card within the first 3 months, then you will receive an additional 40,000 points. Both a trip back to DC for work and my trip to NYC this time were completely covered by points. I try to keep credit card usage pretty minimal; however, I really value travel and would definitely recommend looking into getting an airline affiliated credit card if you can. The Southwest card is perfect for me, but it will vary from each person. I have friends that are part of the United and American loyalty programs as well and can’t say enough great things about them. Also, sign up for your preferred airlines emails – I often receive promos from Southwest for flights starting at $59!!
2. Buy on a Tuesday.
My parents were incredibly gracious and gave me points to cover the trip and I paid them for half of it (seriously, y’all, they are the BEST), but we made sure to book my trip on a Tuesday. I did this for two reasons: 1) to make sure that my rose induced idea was still good and make sure that it worked with Abby’s schedule, and 2) Tuesday’s are statistically the cheapest day to book a flight. God bless those people who track information like this, but booking on a Tuesday was one of the biggest pieces of advice that I got. For some reason, who knows why, but studies show that people who book a flight on a Tuesday can save up to 6% on their flights! Most airlines typically release their sales on Tuesday, making it the cheapest day to book. In the same time grain – book in advanced if at all possible. I am going back to New York in March and let me just tell you the tickets for that trip versus this one are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. If at all possible, book your flight at least 6 weeks ahead of the actual trip and even more if you can.
3. Compare airlines and cities.
This one is harder for me because I am the most loyal Southwest flyer out there; however, if you can swing it look at nearby cities or smaller airlines. I, luckily, am very close to two major airports (Nashville and Atlanta) and two smaller ones (Memphis and Knoxville). Because of this, I am able to look at flights and compare. Now, if a flight to NYC out of Atlanta was $20 cheaper than out of Nashville it would be silly for me to book it when factoring in gas, but if it’s significant it would totally be worth the drive to me. Also, Knoxville and Memphis both have flights out from a smaller airline called Allegiant. We don’t have this airline in Nashville, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. If I don’t have the luxury of points when I go to LA in the spring, then I will most likely drive to Memphis and fly Allegiant because it’s so cheap. Like, flights one way for under $100.
4. Pack Light
This one doesn’t really apply to me because I fly Southwest and get two free checked bags; however, if your preferred airline is different then this is a total game changer. If you can manage to pack into a carry on for your trips, you’ll save lots of $$ on checking bags. United, Delta, and American each charge upwards of $50 for each bag and by packing light you can use that money for a nice dinner or a great bottle of wine.
5. Don’t be afraid to fly on holidays.
This rule doesn’t include Memorial and Labor Day, but for most other holidays its actually cheaper to fly the day of! Like, if you can swing a 5 am Thanksgiving flight, it’s most likely going to be cheaper than leaving the day before!! The holidays where its typically cheapest to fly are Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. For example, I wasn’t able to come home for Thanksgiving last year for a couple of reasons, but the main one was cost. My family went to the beach and flying into the tiny Savannah, GA airport was extremely expensive, but if I had chosen to bite the bullet and just fly in on Thanksgiving day I could have saved almost $100!
6. Don’t be afraid to travel in the off-season.
I totally get that it sounds way more ideal to walk the streets of Paris in July rather than January, but booking in the off-season can significantly decrease the price of your plane ticket. Also, crowds will be smaller and hotel rates will also be cheaper, making that dream vacation a little bit more of a reality. Plus, wouldn’t you rather have 500 extra dollars to treat yourself to some high-end Parisian fashions 😉
I hope that these travel tips helped you and you get to go on a vacation ASAP.
Look for lots of fun NYC posts and be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up with me during the trip.