I have seen a huge surge in traveling photographers since the pandemic. After being stuck in one place for so long, who wouldn’t want to travel the world and photograph beautiful places? Whether you are looking to book a flight for a particular shoot, like a client’s destination wedding, a styled shoot in a different location, or just for fun, here are my top tips for cheap flights for photographers.
Be Flexible with Timing
I know this one can be a little tough if you have a certain date you need to be in a certain location, but try and have a little flexibility! Oftentimes, leaving a day earlier or coming home a day later can save you big bucks! If you can, try to travel mid-week when there is less demand for flights. Saturdays are also less expensive.
Be Flexible with Airports
The airport you fly in and out of can also have a big impact on your flight cost. For example, I live in Tampa, FL but will often fly out of Miami. The cost to travel to Miami is about $75 and the savings on trips to Europe are often $400+!
Similarly, many cities have multiple airports. London, for example, has 4! New York City has JFK and LaGuardia, of course, but Newark Liberty International Airport is just a train ride away.
Of course, these are just a few examples for some of my favorite cities. Depending on where you are leaving from or headed to, there may be many options for you!
There are now so many online resources and apps I use to track flight prices. My top travel resource is Google! Google Flights lets you compare multiple departures, destinations, and airlines almost a year in advance. It also tells you how current flight prices compare to the typical prices for that route.
Other than Google Flights, there are a ton of apps, websites, and newsletters you can use to find flight deals. A few I've looked into are Secret Flying, Travel Pirates, and Skyscanner. I'm also signed up for notifications from Next Vacay and Scott’s Cheap Flights which scan Google Flights for great deals from your home airport and send you an email when they've found a great deal, basically doing the work for you. Keep in mind, both these services have a subscription fee.
Finally, the Hopper app lets you watch flights and predicts if flight prices will rise or fall before your trip - although they haven't been entirely accurate for me.
Low budget, that is. Budget airlines may get a poor reputation, but in my experience, they're not that bad. I've had terrible experiences flying Delta and great experiences flying Spirit. (I've also had terrible experiences flying Spirit and great experiences flying Delta).
The way budget airlines are able to lower costs is by offering everything a la carte. For example, with Frontier, the cost of the ticket doesn't include a carry-on, checked bag, seat selection, or drinks on board but it does include a personal item such as a backpack.
One caveat to this - when you’re comparing a low-budget airline to a standard airline, don’t forget to factor in those baggage fees (especially for photography equipment!), or any other perks you can’t fly without!
Turn Down the Cookies
Time it Right
The best time to book a flight? When you see a great deal for your destination, of course! If you see an exceptionally low deal, jump on it! There’s a good chance it’ll be gone by the next day.
The worst time to book a domestic flight? Within 6 weeks of the departure date. This is because last-minute travelers are usually business travelers who don’t care about price because they can write their flights off on a company card. If that's not you, plan ahead!
For international flights, book at least 45 days in advance. Longer, as far as 3-4 months in advance, is usually ideal.