Traveling with a student group to the vibrant city of Washington, DC is an exciting adventure waiting to happen. To make your journey more affordable, here are some savvy do-it-yourself (DIY) tips:
1. Partner with Student Agencies
Collaborating with student travel agencies can be your first step towards affordability. Student discounts aren't limited to just food and entertainment; they extend to travel as well. With Appleseed Expeditions, for instance, you can access exclusive airline discounts of up to 30%, making your flight more budget-friendly. Another valuable resource is FlyMyGroup, which specializes in helping all types of groups secure cost-effective travel solutions.
2. Plan Ahead - Start Early
The early bird catches the worm, and the same principle applies to booking flights. Begin your search at least 6-9 months before your intended travel dates. Some airlines, like Southwest, open ticketing 6-7 months in advance, while others, such as American, Delta, and United, allow bookings up to a year ahead.
3. Flexibility is Key
If you can afford some flexibility with your travel dates, use the flexible search feature. This option can help you find cheaper international flight tickets for students. By toggling on the "Flexible" search instead of "Exact," you can discover cost savings by considering alternative departure or return dates.
4. Keep an Eye on Sales
Timing is essential when seeking the best deals. Most airlines release their sales on Tuesday afternoons. Be prepared to seize the opportunity at around 2 pm on Tuesdays. Also, be on the lookout for special holiday offers, particularly around Black Friday.
5. Consider One-Way Tickets
In certain cases, booking two one-way tickets can be more cost-effective than a single round-trip ticket. This approach can be especially advantageous for multi-city itineraries where you return from a different airport than your point of arrival.
6. Tiered Airline Approach
Adopt a tiered strategy when contacting airlines. Start with budget-friendly carriers like Allegiant, Spirit, and Sun Country, but be aware that their flexibility in case of cancellations or missed flights can be limited. Southwest Airlines, a reliable choice with baggage included, often offers competitive rates. American Airlines, JetBlue, and, if necessary, Delta and United can also be considered.
7. Embrace Shoulder Season
Explore the benefits of "shoulder season," the period between peak and off-peak travel. Traveling during these less crowded times can lead to substantial savings. For instance, Washington, DC is quieter in September and October, offering great deals for intrepid travelers.
8. Red-Eye Flights
Red-eye or early morning flights are usually the most economical options, as they are considered less preferable by travelers. These flights are often punctual and can save you the cost of a hotel night, giving you extra time to explore your destination.
9. Multi-Airport Analysis
Compare flight prices to the three major airports serving Washington, DC. Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) offers great flight options, particularly with Southwest Airlines. Washington Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport are served by American and Delta. In many cases, BWI boasts the best schedules and affordable choices.
10. Last Resort: Individual Bookings
As a final strategy, if all else fails and you're struggling to secure seats for your entire group, consider booking in smaller groups of nine people at a time directly through the airline's website. Remember to include at least one adult with each booking, as airlines often flag reservations without adults. This approach can help you secure the necessary seats.
It's important to note that, in many cases, you have a 24-hour grace period to cancel flights from the moment of booking. This provides a safety net, ensuring you're not taking any undue risks if you encounter challenges in securing seats for your entire group.
Here are the phone numbers to the major airlines for group booking. Southwest (1-800-433-5368) American Airlines (1-800-221-2255) Delta (1-800-337-4777) United (1-800-426-1122)
Flexibility, early planning, and resourceful booking strategies can go a long way in making your student group's journey to Washington, DC both affordable and enjoyable. Safe travels!If you have questions feel free to reach out to Appleseed Expeditions for a little help.