It’s always one of the biggest questions people ask me about travel, and for good reason. Flight’s can be expensive. And if not, the cheap options can be dodgy and take 31 hours to get anywhere because of multiple stops along the way. Having always booked my own flights, and always searching for a bargain, I’ve created some of my own techniques that have saved me hundreds of dollars.
1. Find a ‘half-way’ destination.
This is one of my favorite ways to save some money. I first used this when I wanted to return home from the US to Australia. A one way flight was going to cost me about $1300. I then realized Hawaii was almost half way and found flights to Hawaii from America for $350 and flights from Hawaii to Australia for under $500 ($850 all up). That’s almost $500 difference!
The reason for this was because budget US airlines flew to Hawaii, and budget Australian airline Jetstar flew back from Hawaii. They were budget airlines so I did end up paying another $100 for my baggage, but still a great saving!
On planning my European trip, I wanted to fly from Brussels, Belgium to Melbourne, Australia and found flights would cost around $1200. But a flight from Brussels to Dubai was about $350 and then a flight from Dubai to Melbourne a few days later was about $650 ($1000 all up). So I save money AND I get to stay in Dubai for a few days as well!
2. Consider other airports close to your final destination
Europe and small countries are perfect for this option. Flying from London? Consider other cities across the UK. Because of high airport taxes at London Heathrow, it is one of the most expensive in the UK but people recognise it so ultimately choose to fly into there. A great website to test this out is Skyscanner. They have the option to choose a whole country as your destination so you can find where the cheapest place to fly into is. Or if you want to arrive/leave somewhere like Amsterdam, try looking somewhere in Belgium or Germany. Sometimes even adding a bus trip to the flight can work out a lot cheaper.
I did this in Miami. I chose a flight from Fort Lauderdale which was further away and cost me more in transfers, but adding it all up I still saved around $100. Every bit counts.
3. Check flights on multiple sites, every day of the week
This may sound silly, but websites actually change their prices on different days of the week. Usually the cheapest days to BUY flights is a Tuesday or Wednesday and prices go up on weekends.
Check multiple site such as Expedia, eDreams, Skyscanner and CheapOair and record the prices because they can vary more than you’d think. In a matter of hours I’ve seen fares jump $100, then fall back down the following week. This happens more with short notice flights.
It’s also worth mentioning that some airlines allow only certain websites to advertise their flights. These are usually the budget ones, and they’re the ones you want. For example, when looking for an international flight across Europe this year, I tried all of the above sites which all showed similar results. At the last minute I decided to check Momondo and they had a flight from Hungarian airline Wizz for a lot less, but I had never seen this flight elsewhere.
Finding the cheapest flights can take a lot of research but if saving money is important to you then it’s worth it. They say around 4 months before is a good time to book flights, but it depends on the time of year, destination etc.
Online or travel agent deals can spring up a year ahead of time and whilst they are good, they usually only provide a small window of time to use the return flight so it’s not so good for people wanting a long holiday. Usually prices start really fluctuating and going up around 2 months before your intended day of travel. But another time I got lucky with this was when I started looking at a flight about 6 weeks before I wanted to leave that was $450 but kept climbing to about $520. I still hadn’t booked it a week and half before I wanted to fly, then checked a website and it was down to $350. It’s really hard to guess, just be persistant in searching the web for deals.
4. Choose your extras when you book
This is mostly important for budget airline flights or domestic flights. You may be thinking you’ll just pay for your extras on the day and it will be the same cost, but most of the time it’s not.
Adding baggage, meals, entertainment or a special seat can as much as double if you purchase it upon check-in. I do have to commend most American airlines, as it was usually a flat $25 fee for baggage if you paid online or on arrival (apart from Spirit Airlines which doubled everything at check-in). Sometimes, even logging in a few days before your flight and purchasing extras can be more expensive as prices go up. And if you’re not sure whether it will cost extra or not, purchase them when booking anyway. It’s best to be safe than sorry and it will always be the cheapest at that time.
5. Try booking in different COUNTRIES/currencies
A friend who is a regular traveler to Europe (especially London) told me that his family only ever book a one way flight and then buy the return flight home once they are over there for a few hundred dollars cheaper. I had a look into this and found, surprisingly, it worked in small amounts online (but it might work best at travel agencies overseas).
Try using search engine websites from the country you wish to fly home from and use their currency. When converting the price, make sure to use your bank’s online currency converter instead of any other because that will judge what you will be charged.
I hope this gave you some more ideas on how to book even cheaper flights. I tried to steer clear of the typical ‘secrets’ such as; ‘earn flyer points on a credit card’ or ‘book flights yourself online’. If you’re reading this, you have probably heard them all before, but hopefully, these were some new and exciting ideas for you to try.