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 (Jesus answer my call!). Flights are usually the most expensive part of any trip, so I come bearing gifts with some tips on how to find cheap flight deals. So by the end of this post you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to booking an affordable flight!
1. Be Flexible!
And I don’t mean go start a yoga class (although that’s actually a good idea, I should take my own advice). The #1 step to find cheap flights is to be flexible. Forget about that list you made of destinations and be open to new ones.
For example, when booking my birthday trip, 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. Use Google Flights
My first stop for finding flight deals is usually Google Flights. (I live on there, won’t be surprised if they recognise 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). USE GOOGLE FLIGHTS!
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!
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.
3. Search far and Search Often
It is always a good idea to check multiple sites just to make sure you’re not missing out on a better deal. Different sites will show different prices & also have diff features. Compare prices on multiple sites to find the best deal! Below you can see an example of the same flight to Berlin on the same day and the variety of prices you could get:
Flight prices change EVERY DAY! There is no exact reason why but because of this, you need to search for these prices all the time. I mean, every day, even multiple times a day. This is the only way you’ll know if you’re actually getting a really good deal or it was all a mirage. This is one of the best waysto find cheap flights.
Here are some other sites that I also use for different reasons (you should definitely give them a try).:
- Skyscanner – The ‘Explore’ feature helps you find the cheapest places to go month by month, filter by your budget and it narrows down your choice
- Kayak.com – Great for Hacker fares. The Hacker fares finds two one-way tickets to make a round trip flight, not necessarily on the same airline, which could work out cheaper than a round-trip flight on the same airline. Pretty good right?!
- Momondo, Cheap Flights, Kiwi – Search engines that sometimes shows cheaper fares
- AirFare Watchdog – Great for finding sale & error fares (see #6)
- Secret Flying – Absolute heaven for some AMAZING flight deals nobody else knows about (so shh).
- Air Wander – Allows you extend layovers into stopovers to visit 2 places with 1 trip (see Tip #4)
4. 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. Google Flights, Skyscanner, 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.
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.
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5. Extend that Layover
Sometimes the cheapest options have the longest 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? Sites like Skiplagged and Air Wander allow you to take advantage of stop-over flights.
6. Talk to your local travel agent
When you’ve done your online searches, sometimes it’s helpful to back to the 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!
7. Subscribe to Flight Deal Accounts Emails
If you can’t be bothered finding cheap flights everyday, you can subscribe to email alerts from the below websites. You can also follow them on twitter for crazy flight deals all day!
www.jacksflightclub.com (UK & Europe)
www.airfarewatchdog.com (UK, US & Canada)
And SO MUCH MORE!
8. Consider other Airports
Flights tend to be cheaper from larger hubs so if you live in a small town, you might be better of finding cheap flights from the biggest city near you. The same applies to looking for flights that land in major arrival airports. If you live in the UK, consider flights departing from Europe for long haul flights. I flew from Brussels to Zanzibar and paid £300 for a return flight!
9. 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 left off the final price (human error).
Now these can save you ALOT on flight prices BUT it can be risky because the airline could decide to cancel the ticket. 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 if you don’t mind the risk you could be on your way to some amazing destinations for a fraction of the price.
10. One-Way vs Round Trip Ticket
Sometimes buying two one-way tickets can actually turn out to be cheaper than buying one round trip ticket so keep that in mind during your searches.
11. 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 possibly find cheap flights, always search for flights in incognito/ private mode for lower prices! No harm in trying is there?
12. Mix and match airlines
A great website for this is Kiwi! It mixes and matches airlines for one trip to find the cheapest price possible. For long-haul flights, this can make a huge saving.
However, booking a trip with different airlines could be risky. For example, say your first flight with Ryanair was delayed, and you missed your connecting flight with Singapore Air. The airlines have no association with each other, so Singapore Air has no obligation to reschedule your flight for free, so you could lose money.
If you mix and match yourself, make sure there’s enough time between connections in the event that one of your flights is delayed.
13. 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.
14. 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!) but it does take time. So try different combinations to get the best deal for you.
If you have found this helpful or even just learned one new thing to help you find cheap flights, please SHARE with anyone who you think would also find this useful! Everyone deserves to be able to travel affordably don’t you think?
Any more tips to add? Feel free to post in the comments.
Until Next Time xx