One of the great things about being alive in the 21st century is the democratization of travel. More and more people in Western societies can now afford to go on a trip every now and then, even to faraway destinations that their parents and grandparents could only dream of!
Thrifty travellers (like myself!) are always looking to save a penny, while others enjoy the glamour of dining at the best restaurants and staying at fancy hotels during their time abroad. You can adapt pretty much every aspect of your trip to your budget, but flights are the one thing that are hard to customise. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to find cheap flights, regardless of your destination… you can thank us later!
1. Have a budget
First things first: how much can you spend on your flights? Knowing your budget is key when planning a trip abroad, and you should establish the amount you’re willing to pay to get to your destination. In fact, if you’re flexible about where to go, you can even pick a destination based on price!
2. Use flight search engines
There’s no point in visiting every single airline website in your country – there are flight search engines that can do that for you! These websites compare fares and list the most affordable options. Two of the most popular ones are Kayak and Google Flights, but the list is actually extremely long.
3. Clear your browser’s cookies
Flight search engines use “cookies” to track your browsing history. Rumour has it that this will make the price rise after you’ve searched for the same route several times. Just in case, delete the cookies from your browser before you finally purchase your flights! An alternative is to search in the “incognito” mode, which prevents websites from tracking your search history.
4. Sign up for price alerts
Flight search engines allow you to set up alerts, so you’ll be notified via email if the price of your itinerary goes down. Another very interesting tool is Scott’s Cheap Flights, an email subscription service that sends you a digest of amazing deals from airports in your area to faraway destinations.
5. Find the cheapest airport
Instead of flying from your closest airport “just because”, consider other options. You might find a better deal by leaving from an airport that’s a little further away from your place. This same rule applies to the destination airport, as you can usually find cheap buses directly from airports to the surrounding cities.
If you’re travelling to another continent, you may want to focus on finding the cheapest flight to cross the ocean – and remember that layovers also help cut the bill!
6. Travel during the low season
This will have a huge impact on the price of your tickets. If you want to find cheap flights, make sure you avoid the high season. The best times of the year to fly are January through mid-May and September through early December. If you’re flexible with dates, weekdays are the way to go.
7. Avoid booking last-minute
A couple of years ago, it was possible to find last-minute steals – ah, the good old days… However, cheap last-minute flights are fairly rare now, so it’s way too risky to assume that luck is going to be on your side. In fact, the best month to purchase your flights is January – especially if you can’t avoid travelling during peak season!
8. Pack less!
Do you really need to drag that huge suitcase around the world with you? Low-cost airlines charge extra for each suitcase, so going without is an easy way to save some cash. Forget all the “what if” items and learn to travel light… you might even enjoy the experience more fully!
9. Take advantage of frequent-flyer programmes
Airlines love loyal customers, so most of them will allow you to accumulate miles and get special discounts on future flights. These programmes are generally free and will definitely help you find cheap flights next time you travel!
If only you had known all of this earlier, right? No worries! Remember it’s never too late to start doing things right! Besides, if you’re looking for something very specific, we’ll be more than happy to help you out.