For a lot of people, the most common reason stopping them from travelling is “I can’t afford it”. Social media can sometimes make travel look expensive or reserved for the super-rich rolling in the dough (not true!). Take me, I’m definitely not super rich…yet (I wish, Jesus answer my call!). Flights are usually the most expensive part of any trip, so here I come, to the rescue, with some tips on how to book cheap flights that works for your budget, so by the end of this post you’re booking an affordable flight and dipping your toes in the ocean off a beautiful island somewhere.
1.) Be Flexible!
And I don’t mean go start a yoga class (although that’s actually a good idea, should take my own advice), I mean be flexible to get the best flight deals. I know it’s not always possible but try to be with either your dates or destination, if you can’t do both. For example, when booking my birthday trip in August, my dates were pretty fixed but I was flexible with the location and ended up picking Barcelona! Being flexible with both dates and location can be the difference between paying through your nose for flights. And you never know, you might just find your new favourite city
2.) My Go-to Search Engines
My first stop for finding flight deals is normally Google Flights. I live on there (won’t be surprised if they recognise me by my IP address!). I love this site mainly because at a glance, you can see when it’s cheapest to travel for your preferred trip duration (can be adjusted at the bottom). For example, for a 3 day trip to Berlin in June, you immediately see the cheapest day to travel is 13th June for £49 return! (See below)
Beyond that, you can track prices, use the pricing graph (another helpful way of visualizing prices) see suggestions on cheaper travel dates, cheaper airports to travel to and city guides.
The Explore feature is especially good when you have set dates in mind but don’t really have a location (remember what I said about flexibility!); you can find the cheapest and most popular destinations that fit within your budget.
My next stop on the road to cheap flights is Skyscanner. As we all know, it’s basically a comparison site that roams the internet for the best flight prices. I always filter the options to tailor the result better to what I’m looking for. I especially love the ‘Explore’ feature that helps you find the cheapest places to go month by month, filter on your budget and it narrows down your choice.
Kayak.com is also a great website to use mainly because of its Hacker fares. The Hacker fares basically finds two one-way tickets to make a round trip flight, not necessarily on the same airline, which works out cheaper than a round-trip flight on the same airline. Pretty good right?!
These websites are my absolute go-to’s for booking flights (you should definitely give them a try).
Here are some other sites that I also use for different reasons:
- Momondo, Cheap Flights – Search engines that sometimes shows cheaper fares
- AirFare Watchdog– Great for finding sale & error fares (see #6)
- Secret Flying– Absolute heaven for travel deals nobody else knows about (so shh). Need I say more?
- Air Wander– Allows you extend layovers into stopovers to visit 2 places with 1 trip (see #4)
- Holiday Pirates– Great for cheap package holiday deals
It is always a good idea to check at least three of the sites just to make sure you’re not missing out on a better deal. Below you can see the same flight to Berlin on the same day and the variety of prices you could get:
3.) Stalk those Prices- Sign up for Price Alerts
Okay I know I’ve preached flexibility so far and some of you may have been shaking your heads like “Nah, that ain’t gon’ work for me girl, I know exactly where and when I want to go”. In that case, you can monitor the prices for a while before committing. Skyscanner, Google flights, Kayak, Hopper, etc. also allow you to sign up for alerts and you get an email when the price changes so you can take advantage of low fares as they become available.
Both Hopper and Kayak have in built system to tell you if prices are likely to increase or decrease and they’re actually not far off! You should also sign up for airline sale alerts so you never miss out.
Back to our Berlin example, as you can see the advice is to “Buy now” as prices are likely to increase.
Below is a real life example of how price alerts can work in your favour for a trip I’m considering to Granada.
4.) Extend that Layover
Sometimes the cheapest options have the most gut wrenchingly long layovers but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It could be a great opportunity to explore a new city or country basically for free! Why say no to that?
5.) Talk to your local travel agent
When you’ve done your online searches, sometimes it’s helpful to back to basics. Travel agents still sometimes have access to cheaper flights than you will find online. I’ve been able to book significantly cheaper long haul flights by checking with agents. From my experience, it’s a 50-50 chance, so either way you have nothing to lose. Except a great deal!
6.) Error Fares
I’m sure you’re thinking, what is an Error Fare? Well it’s just what it implies, an error in the fare you see online. These sometimes happen when things like fuel surcharge, air tax or other fees are mistakenly not added to the final price (human error).
Now it can be risky because the airline could decide to cancel the ticket, in which case if you’ve paid, you’ll get your money back no qualms but if the e-ticket has already been sent to you, it’s a little harder for them to cancel. The trick is to react fast and risk a little bit and you could be on your way to some amazing destinations for a fraction of the price.
7.) One-Way or Round Trip Ticket
Sometimes buying two one-way tickets can actually be cheaper than buying one round trip ticket so keep that in mind during your searches.
8.) Go Incognito- Airline prices can fluctuate throughout the day and based on your IP address, they can apparently somehow tell when you’re constantly searching for the same flights and this could impact the prices you see. So to be on the safe side, search in incognito/private mode and prices may not increase! No harm in trying is there?
9.) Early booking isn’t always best– Sometimes the best time to book a flight is as late as five weeks before your holiday. Use those price alerts I talked about earlier. I’ve found that some airlines may reduce their flight prices closer to departure if they’ve got lots of seats to sell, so the wait can sometimes be worth it.
10.) When you should book and travel– Cheapest day to book- Monday/Tuesday, Most expensive day to book- Saturday, Cheapest day to fly- Friday/Monday, Most expensive day to fly- Sunday
There isn’t one fool proof formula for getting cheap tickets (Unless you have some magical powers, and if you do, holla at your girl!), so try different combinations to get the best deal for you.
If you have found this helpful or even just learned one new thing, please share with anyone who you think would also find this useful, everyone deserves to be able to travel affordably. If you want some help booking flights, let me know and I will try my very best.
Any more tips to add? Feel free to post in the comments.