Don’t believe the lie that you’re out of luck for big travel savings if you live in a small town.
Yes, it is admittedly harder to snag cheap flights if you’re not within driving distance of a major hub. There’s also the issue of limited availability for certain routes.
However, there are some savings to be found even if you live in a flyover spot. Just be prepared to get creative, have a willingness to take the road less traveled and the ability to lengthen travel times if you want to pocket some savings when departing your pocket-sized town.
Take a look at these five tips for how to get cheap flights if you live in a small town.
Get Acquainted With Your Local Airport’s Website
Third-party booking sites might not show you the whole story on the routes available out of your city. While those platforms are great when you’re comparing options for multiple airports, they’re less helpful when you already know the airport you want to fly out of for your next trip.
Why? The good flights near you might not make the front page.
It’s actually smarter to go directly to your local airport’s website to take a look at the carriers that serve your city.
Scan the list to check for budget carriers before going deeper to check out actual destinations.
Next, plug in some different dates and times to see just how low you can get the price to go based on your travel needs.
You’ll likely want to go with whatever budget carrier offers the best rates out of your airport.
Embrace Connecting Flights
You have to be realistic enough to understand that flying directly to Paris on a dime from your sparsely populated town might not be happening on the cheap.
However, an inexpensive connecting flight or two can be the next best thing to actually living near a major hub.
What’s more, connecting flights out of smaller airports can actually be less expensive than the cost of paying for a ride to an airport located a few hours away from you.
It’s also just a lot easier than asking family members or friends to shuttle you to a faraway airport.
Longer connecting flights can actually save you a surprising amount of money when you’re able to book international fares out of major hubs.
Taking a connecting flight to one of the coasts to snag a rock-bottom fare for an international departure may give you access to the cheapest flights around if you’re willing to invest just a little bit of time and money on the front end.
Consider Ground Transportation
Are you really going to let yourself pass up a $79 fare to the Bahamas? Those flash deals that you see advertised by airlines don’t have to be the exclusive bounty of those lucky enough to live near major airports. Thinking outside the box to save money on travel sometimes comes down to thinking inside the boxcar. Consider taking a train or bus to get to a major airport if connecting flights out of your area aren’t affordable.
Pivot From Airline Points to Rental Car Points
Airline rewards definitely steal the thunder when it comes to redeeming your credit card points for travel perks.
However, you might want to consider a slightly tweaked strategy if you live in a small town.
First, focus on using hubs to book rock-bottom fares without even taking into account the travel points you’ve accumulated with your favorite credit card. The savings you’ll get from booking through a hub can easily be greater than the savings you’d get from trying to make your points do anything for you when booking a pricier fare out of a smaller airport.
Next, focus on using those points you have stocked away to redeem rewards that can be used for a cheap rental car. Finally, use that next-to-nothing price for a rental car to simply drive to the hub you want to fly out of to get to your destination.
Play “Travel Agent” With Some Different Flight Combinations
Don’t be so married to using roundtrip flights for your trips.
This requires a bit of a time investment because you’ll be playing around with all kinds of different configurations to get to the right price point.
First, look for inexpensive one-way tickets from your city to a big hub that’s offering lots of cheap fares to your destination. Is it cheaper to book two flights to-and-from a departure city featuring a great deal on a trip you want to take, rather than getting a roundtrip flight from your local airport?
The perk here is that you can really choose any departure city you want because distance really isn’t an object when you’re flying before you fly.
The trick is that closer doesn’t mean cheaper. You may not mind flying an extra hour to get to a departure hub if it means saving hundreds of dollars.
The math here just needs to work out so that your cost of each connecting flight combined with your main roundtrip flight is cheaper than a roundtrip flight to your destination from your original starting point.
This can actually be really fun if you’re willing to take on the mindset that there are no rules when it comes to the where, when and why of how you travel. You’re willing to put in a little time and planning to get rates that elude others!
Bonus Tip: Consider a Different Type of Vacation
The truth is that paying more for flights is one of the most frustrating parts of living in a small town that’s several hours away from any major hubs.
This frustration might be inspiring you to think about annual vacations a little differently.
One good strategy for taking a good vacation every year without necessarily needing to do a complicated dance of the fares is to simply identify an airline serving your local airport that offers affordable flights to a spot that’s a big departure point for cruise lines.
You’ll get the benefit of booking what is essentially a cheap connecting flight while also skipping the need for a “main” roundtrip flight because you’ll be hopping on a cruise ship that bundles your costs for transport, food and hotel room in one.
Small-town living can be compatible with a jet-setting lifestyle if you’re willing to put a little more planning into how you book your trips.
Of course, it’s inevitable that you’ll simply need to pay more to get to destinations some of the time if you live in a place where flight offerings are sparse.
The first step to flying for less when you live in a small town is to start keeping up with the offerings at your local airport. Focusing on routes offered by the resident budget carrier is the starting point because this airline will become your gateway to better fares at bigger airports around the country.