While traveling by air is quick and convenient, it is usually not cheap. One recent report noted that jet fuel costs have jumped dramatically over the past twelve months, causing most airlines to raise the price of their fares. This can make any trip you have planned costlier than you might have anticipated at first, especially if you are going overseas. However, there are several money-saving strategies you can use as you travel on any airline.
1. Pack With Efficiency
Some airlines allow you two free pieces of luggage per flight, plus one or two carry-on bags. Beyond that, the cost of flying your baggage can climb quickly, especially if they are based on weight. If you are leaving on an extended stay, try to pack smaller bags to capacity or pack less after checking on your hotel’s laundry fees. In some cases, packing fewer outfits and washing them at your hotel can be less expensive than paying what it might cost to take more clothing with you.
2. Download Movies and Games Before You Leave
While many airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi, access can cost up to $50 for laptops and $20 per flight for the use of mobile data. Some airlines, such as Southwestern, charge per day, which can save you money if you plan to take more than one flight. However, downloading content, such as movies, television show episodes, and games before you board can save you quite a bit of cash as you fly. Instead of paying for internet on board to listen to streaming music, download your favorite songs on your phone or tablet instead.
3. Prepare for Long Layovers
Long layovers present the most opportunity for impulse spending at airport shops, where prices are usually quite inflated. However, you can prepare yourself and avoid draining your travel budget by carrying filling snacks and thirst-quenching drinks with you. For example, paying $7-$10 for a quality thermal aluminum water bottle you can refill at any airport water fountain would typically be much less expensive than paying $4 for a bottle of water at an airport convenience store or newsstand.
Food prices are typically inflated at airport restaurants as well, so it is wise to pack snacks that will tide you over until you reach your final destination. Pre-packaged combinations of nuts, cheese, and other protein-dense snacks can help fill your stomach, but beware of those high in sodium, as they might make you thirsty.
4. Sock Away Those Savings
If you have time to plan between booking a flight and leaving for your trip, you may want to put extra money aside for unplanned purchases. One way to accomplish this is to find savings in other areas of your budget. For example, look into your current insurance policy to see if you qualify for discounts or other savings that might allow you to put away extra spending money for your trip. You can also cut down on trips to fast food restaurants and expensive coffee drinks in the weeks before your flight and put the money aside instead.
5. Plan for Leisure Time
If you know you are in for a long layover between flights, planning ahead can help you make the best use of it. This can help you avoid wandering the airport and spending money on impulse purchases. If you enjoy creative projects, pack some colored pens and an art therapy book, a sketch pad, or a journal to work on. A large book of word search or crossword games can also keep you entertained and out of expensive airport gift shops.
Airline travel can be an expensive venture, no matter where you plan to roam. However, when you plan your trip and expenses carefully, you can save money at the airport, on board your flight, and anywhere else your trip takes you.