Itchy feet and a hankering for sunshine are classic symptoms of the Travel Bug that’s rife this time of year. But help is at hand if you’ve caught it. With careful planning and a pinch of insider knowledge, you can save money on actually getting to your getaway!
Whether you’re hatching a weekend city break or a once in a lifetime trip to a far flung destination, you may expect flights to take a large chunk of your budget. But before you click ‘book’, try a few tricks of the trade to see if you can grab a bargain.
Always start with flight comparison websites
Skyscanner.net is a holiday makers’ number crunching best friend. It compares millions of flights to find you the cheapest deal as quick as a flash. No matter where you fancy travelling, it’ll show you every low cost flight out there. Better yet, you can book directly with the airline or trusted travel agent – so there are absolutely no hidden fees or charges.
On average, you’ll find the cheapest flights five weeks before you’re due to take-off. But it varies wildly on your destination. In fact, they recommend waiting to book thirteen weeks before you fly to Turkey and up to five months before your trip to the States. So it’s best to keep checking.
Set up a price alert
Flight prices fluctuate all the time, but you don’t have to keep a beady eye on them to get the best deal. At least, not when you search for a seat on Skyscanner and opt in for price alert emails.
They’ll check the price of your journey and email you every time it goes up or down. Once you’ve got your hands on the best possible deal, you can stop the messages at a click of a button.
Be flexible with dates and times
The more flexible you are, the cheaper your flights are likely to be. Those who search ‘whole month’ or ‘whole year’ when they’re looking will always get to cherry-pick the purse-friendly results.
Holidaying off-peak in Europe during May, June and October will not only save you money, but you may get more room on the beach and less hassle exploring local attractions. Don’t forget, quiet midweek flights and Sunday travel tend to be cheaper as well!
Delete your browsing history
Websites are sneaky. They notice when and why you visit airlines online, and then they can subtly bump the prices up on that flight you’ve been eyeing. But you can be just as sneaky. Sometimes you can avoid price hikes just by deleting your search history or using the incognito private window in your browser.
Check one way fares, only take what you can carry & avoid added extras
Sometimes single journeys are cheaper than round trips. Yes, you may fly home on a totally different airline, but the focus here is purely on getting a mighty fine price.
That goes for your luggage too. You’ll get to keep more of your hard-earned cash if you take hand luggage only. EasyJet have an unlimited weight limit for your 56x46x25cm bag, while Emirates Airways give you 30kg for free.
Opt out of added luxuries like speedy boarding, fast track security, seat selection and a chauffeured drive to the airport to save even more.
Long-haulers should get in quick
If you have a have a specific destination and a specific date in mind, the safest option is to book as soon as the tickets go on sale. Especially if you’re travelling long-haul – you’ll rarely find a better deal on sites like Skyscanner. Most tickets go up ten months to a year in advance. But then, you might want to gamble on the January sales? It’s a tough game, finding cheap flights.
Sign up for email updates
Sometimes it pays to be in the know. If you sign up for email updates from your local airport and EasyJet for example, their newsletters may well hold the key to saving. Whether they’re launching a new route or discount sale, you’ll be one of the first to know.
Break up families or groups into smaller, separate purchases
Group discounts are few and far between, each plane has only a few discounted seats after all and the chances of you snagging them all is rather low. While searching for flights for your entire group is a worthwhile starting point, there’s an alternative. Although it’s a hassle, if you split up into pairs or even sit individually, you may well fly cheaper.
Remember that the cheapest flight isn’t always the best value
Every now and then, a cheap flight is too good to be true. If it is, you should walk away. If the first flight of the day is cheapest, way it up against a stopover in a hotel and the price of a taxi across in the morning. Is it still cheaper? And what if your overnight bargain flight doesn’t connect with travel links at the other end?
All in all, there are bargains to be had if you put the work in to find a cheap flight.