11 travel hacks to get you the cheapest flights
Gone are the days of wandering into a travel agent to book your holiday for you. We now have a wealth of resources right at our finger tips and we are all quickly becoming our very own travel agent. Though if you are new to the self-planning-holiday scene exactly where to begin can be a little daunting. So with this in mind I am offering you the 11 key factors I consider when hunting for the perfect flight price. The following tips will save you thousands of dollars and make that dream holiday a reality. So without further ado I give you my top 11 travel hacks to save you oodles of cash on flights.
- Never use a travel agent. EVER.
If you take nothing else away from this piece it is that you never, ever save money by using a travel agent. Not only do you spend more but it has been my own personal experience that agents have their own agenda when booking your travel. The longest and most expensive flight itineraries I have ever had have always come from an agent.
The itineraries I have had booked for me by well-established travel agencies have never looked after my best interest (both time and money) and instead have left me with excessive days of travel for a greater cost. My biggest regret as a traveler is that I didn’t have more faith in my ability to organize my own flights much earlier on.
- Purchase your flight 47 days before your departure
According to cheapair.com this is the cheapest time to purchase a flight. They number crunched billions of flights over the course of a year and after they looked at all of their data this statistically is the cheapest day to purchase your flight. I have done some further reading on the subject –yes I know, flight geek – and basically it seems the reasoning behind it is that airline computers aren’t programmed to generate any sort of flight deals before this 45-47 day window. The lesson here, don’t book any further in advance than 47 days (6 weeks).
- Find cheapest direct flights on Skyscanner.net
Now that you have given travel agents the boot. It’s time to do your own flight research and Skyscanner.net will compare every available flight from the origin to the destination you are searching on any particular day. You can in fact search the whole month to obtain the cheapest day to fly. This will give you the cheapest direct flights available. However once I find a direct flight that I am happy with, I will always check on the airlines website directly first and book through them. On occasion skyscanner.net has special deals and the flight will be cheaper purchased through skyscanner.net as opposed to the airlines website directly. The point is to check both and ideally book through the airline directly (as this is easier if you need to make changes in the long run).
- Buy flights in local currency
This was particularly shocking to me but if you purchase flights in the currency of the country the flight is in you can save large amounts of money. For example recently I was flying internally in Colombia and searched a flight from Santa Marta to Bogota. If I entered I was from Colombia on the LAN website VS Australia (where I am from) the flight was $50 cheaper when I converted the Colombian rate into Australian dollars. This can save you large amounts of money on long haul flights to foreign countries also. It is not always beneficial to allow these websites to convert the currency for you, pay in foreign currency on your credit/debit card and save!
- Break up long haul flights with your own stopover
It is easy to assume the best way to search a flight is from origin – destination right? Wrong. If you are a little more flight savvy you will see that you can save thousands of dollars by investigating a few different stopovers yourself. This doesn’t mean extensive and inconvenient flight itineraries with large numbers of stopovers. It means utilizing cheaper airlines and flights by mixing up airlines and deciding on your own stopover destination. Example as follows;
I was recently looking at flights from Cancun, Mexico to Costa Rica. There are no direct flights possible and they cheapest total price skyscanner.net could offer me was $585 AUD.
However if used my knowledge the Fort Lauderdale flies is often a cheap connecting airport, I was able to reduce the total flight price by half! A saving of $285 AUD
If you apply this principal to long haul flights, you can save yourself thousands of dollars and have total control over where you stopover and for how long. Remember to leave 3 hours between international flights and 2 hours between domestic.
- Fly on a Tuesday
Fly mid-week and you can save hundreds of dollars. The most expensive time to fly is always Friday and Sunday night. Consider a holiday that starts and ends mid-week for cheaper flights.
- Take carry on only
You do not always need check in luggage and this can cost between $20 -50 for bags to be added to a budget airline booking. I have travelled for up to 2 weeks with carry-on luggage only. Especially if you are headed to a sunny destination packing a carry on suitcase is a piece of cake. After all, how much room does a bikini and a towel take up?
- Check the location of the airports
There is always the temptation to go with the super budget airline flight that flies you into an airport that can only just be considered part of that city it is so damn far away. Consider the costs of paying for your baggage, food, transport from this airport into the city or any extra nights accommodation you may require if you have an early morning flight at a distant airport and add this into the price. Often it works out no cheaper to fly to these airports. I personally found flying around Europe with British Airways into Heathrow was just as cost effective as flying with budget airlines from Stanstead, Luton or Gatwick Airports once you added in the additional costs and flying into Heathrow was FAR more convenient.
- Know the country you are travelling in
A quick google search can give you an idea of the going rate for internal flights once you are within the confines of the country. For example in many South American countries you can purchase flights for up to half the price advertised anywhere online by purchasing through a travel agency (please ignore rule 1 in this scenario) locally. For Europe it always pays to purchase in advance (however no more than 6 weeks) as seats are sold on a pricing allocation basis. The cheapest seats always sell first leaving progressively more expensive ones the longer you leave your purchase.
- Delete your cookies
Ah cookies… the reason that the price for a flight you have checked a number of times has sky rocketed through the roof. Always, always, always delete your cookies before making your final purchase and if the cost has suddenly jumped up a lot higher. Use a friend or partner’s computer/device to check the cost of the price. So many times I have feared the cost of a flight is suddenly increasing and made an impulse purchase only to realize that the price had never actually increased at all.
- Consider return flights when flying one way
I am pretty much always flying one-way as a traveler, I seldom return to where I just was! However I will always check return flights as they can often be hundreds of dollars cheaper than a one way flight. I am not sure the exact reason why this is the case, but so long as you cancel the second flight after you have taken the first you will not have any troubles with the airline.
Travelling is most certainly affordable and travelling cheaply is a skill. Once you have mastered the craft of hunting down those cheaper flight options you will be well on your way to a lifelong happy relationship with travel. Bon voyage!