Travel Agent Shares With Us The Best Hacks To Try When Booking Your Flight

Planning a great trip is about more than just hopping online and hoping for the best. There's a lot of strategic decision-making, meticulous attention to detail, and optimizing of choices to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. After all, everyone wants to snag that great deal on flights or find the perfect all-inclusive hotel, right? But with all the contradictory information out there constantly bombarding you from every angle, how can you work smart to sidestep the oversaturated world of online travel hacks? Lifelong traveler and travel agent Victoria Fricke of Vic's Vacations spoke exclusively with Explore to go beyond the rumors and set the record straight on booking hacks — from choosing the right airline to getting your money's worth when it comes to hidden fees and price fluctuations. Because whether it's a romantic honeymoon, an unforgettable family getaway, or a bachelorette weekend, Fricke is all about helping to facilitate unforgettable memories — without the hefty price tag. 

But where do you even start? "I think the biggest misconception travelers have is that there's a special sauce or secret on the actual best day/time to book. There's so much clickbait on the internet about how to find the best flight price, but the reality is it's live inventory and based on supply and demand with fluctuating pricing," Fricke says. "The novice traveler who suggests in their TikTok video that Thursday morning at 10 a.m. is the best time to book probably doesn't really have the answer."

Unlocking the power of comparison

So, if there's no such thing as the best time to book flights, what's the foolproof way to make sure you're finding cheap fares? For Fricke, nothing beats the power of comparison. "Google Flights is truly my best friend as a travel advisor. I use it multiple times a day to ensure my clients are getting the best pricing," she says. No matter where you're headed, tools like Google Flights not only show you a range of prices but also provide alternative flight schedules, routes, and options you might not have previously considered. And at the end of the day, it's a quick, straightforward step that could end up saving you a lot of money.

Beyond tools, it's the flexibility that makes a difference. According to Fricke, who shares travel tips and stories on the official Vic's Vacations Instagram account, flexible travel dates can make all the difference between breaking the bank and landing a steal. "Being flexible on your days of travel is one of the most important 'hacks' you can have. Some airlines offer better routes or lower fares on certain days. You just have to be willing to dig and find them!" Fricke goes on to explain, "If someone wishes to travel to Antigua for one week, but they have flexibility, I'll compare a Saturday to Saturday, Sunday to Sunday, Wednesday to Wednesday, etc., to ensure we have the best pricing." Now that's what we call savings made easy.

Choosing the right airline

The price tag on your ticket isn't the only cost to factor in when planning a vacation. "Something else to think about is when you're comparing flight pricing, also look at baggage costs. If your carrier charges $40 per bag and you'll have two checked bags, that's $80 per way. Your ticket now costs $160 more," Fricke explains. "Compare that to Southwest with free bags. If the flight difference between that original carrier and Southwest is $100, the bags alone make Southwest $60 cheaper."

But Fricke's preference goes beyond saving on checked bags. "[Southwest is] my favorite airline for two reasons: Free bags, as mentioned earlier, and the ability to modify pricing. This is the most underestimated money-saving hack in air travel," she says. "You can modify your reservation post-booking and recoup the points or travel funds as a credit for future travel. You don't have to be bound by initial prices; simply monitor your flight pricing, and if it drops, reap the savings!" Confused? Check out this how-to video Fricke made that explains the process. Because whether you're a seasoned jet setter or a first-time traveler, knowledge is the real ticket to hacking your travel experience.