Affording some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life when you’re living on an intern’s salary seems next to impossible. I mean, who wouldn’t love the idea of hitting the slopes at a cozy resort in Utah, or running away to explore London for a week? Even when you’d be splitting the cost of an Airbnb among your besties, it’s still expensive enough to burn a hole through your paycheck—and the one after that, and the one after that.
I’m slowly becoming a travel junkie. Scouring the web for cheap travel deals literally gives me an adrenaline rush. I’ve seen all the blog posts and read all the articles on how to travel anywhere for cheap. And the advice is usually good and practical—use airline points from a travel credit card, stay at a hostel instead of a hotel, yada, yada, yada. But I think the biggest travel rule for making sure you save as much money as possible should be applied before you even search for an Airbnb: book your plane tickets as early as possible.
I’ve booked tickets months ahead, and I’ve also booked tickets just weeks before and I’m telling you, it makes a HUGE difference. Yet so many people often overlook this golden travel rule. I get it, things can happen. It may be a spur of the moment trip or maybe your situation changed and you no longer have that prior commitment that was holding you back. Or maybe you were waiting on that one friend to finally get permission from her parents to go. If you have the ability, you should try to book your flights at least four months in advance. Ticket prices can fluctuate, and today it may be $400 but next week they could be $500.
That being said, make sure your travel squad has all their ducks in a row before anyone hits ‘Confirm.’ Although it may be hard with a group of friends, planning ahead is an effective way to help you save money on your trip. You should be discussing plans for travel months in advance—not a month before and definitely not a week before. But the mechanics of discussing a trip with your friends is a story for another time.
When you’re planning to purchase plane tickets with your friends, make sure you know the date you plan to fly out and the date you plan to return. Agree on the airport you will fly out of, and pick a time that works best with everyone’s schedules.
Looking back on all the trips I didn’t take, that was definitely the one theme they all had in common: the fact that I hadn’t prepared enough to buy tickets earlier for a more affordable price. Even planning a little every day can make a huge difference, and seriously be what stops you from spending hundreds of dollars on a domestic flight.