Be flexible

A flexible date calendar on Google Flights (Photo image courtesy of Google)
A flexible date calendar on Google Flights

Some flexibility on your travel dates can save you up to 50%

Look into flights leaving or returning a day or two earlier or later for potentially huge savings. Rather than bore you with details, just check out the image below.

Above is a screen grab from a sample search I did using Google Flights.

I started checking into fares from New York to London on Friday, February 10, and then clicked on "Show Flexible Dates" to see a calendar displaying the fares for travel on every departure/return combination for several weeks to either side. A quick glance shows me that, to fly on my intended date of Feb. 10 would cost $450. If, however, I shift my travel plans to leave the night before, the price drifts down to $423—and if I wait until Saturday to leave, the price drops to $380. 

Now that's a savings—a 15% discount just for being flexible—and an important tool in the savvy traveler's arsenal.

Even if you don't use sites that provide this intel automatically—even if you don't book online at all—always look into alternative travel dates. On other web sites, just test-drive sample dates through the booking engine—it won't take but ten minutes or so.

If you prefer to book the old fashioned way—in person—tell the travel agent or airline booking agent on the phone that you are flexible with your departure and return dates.

If they don't automatically provide the information on alternate dates, just persist politely and ask, "How much would it cost if I left a day or two earlier or later?"

It might take them a few minutes of tippy-tapping their keyboards while you wait, but as you can see, the wait can be more than worth it.

Airfares links