Catching Flights on a Budget - Top Tips
We’ve all been there, stressed, searching for flights, prices keep increasing and the prospect of your holiday seems like a myth. The most obvious tip in the world is to book in advance. Life happens, so if you’re like me and quite spontaneous and impulsive with travelling, you’re going to need these tips.
Flight to Bali
The most important thing before you decide to look for and book flights is to understand what you want from your trip. Be realistic and be aware of the resources you have. When I say ‘resources’ of course I mean money, but I’m also talking about your time, the people you know in different destinations and how many, if any you're travelling with. All these things can affect the cost of your travels. I know in this post I’m advising on flights but being aware of how else you can save on costs during your trip will make budgeting for flights easier.
If you know where you want to travel to, you can skip to Tip #2. If you’re unsure, don’t worry I’ve got you! There are two tools I use to compare the cost of flights in different destinations and this always influences my decision on where to travel to.
- Kayak - a useful travel search engine that allows you to compare flights for specific dates (or not), to anywhere in the world.
- Kiwi - very similar to Kayak. If you are flexible, Kiwi allows you to add different departure airports. So you can also compare prices further with that. Another option that Kiwi provides is the ability to filter in order to show you what’s in your price range with the least amount of stops.
We all know where we are going! Now, it is useful to figure out the cheapest days to fly during the month or period you intend to travel, so you can plan based on that. What I usually do is go on to Skyscanner.net , enter my departure and arrival destinations and then on the departure and return dates, I select the travel month instead of specific dates. Below, I have searched for flights to Dubai in August as an example.
So, now we all know where we are going and when we want to travel, it’s time to find the cheapest flights. My favourite travel search engine is Momondo.co.uk, it never fails me. Others such as Kayak.co.uk, Kiwi.com, skyscanner.net are useful too. If you are a student or under 25, I also recommend studentuniverse.co.uk. especially for long haul flights.
Stay low key! to ensure you are getting the best prices you need to be searching privately. The more you search for particular flight routes, the more prices will increase. This is because of a thing called 'HTTP cookies', which websites can use to keep track of what you have been searching for and can decide on what prices they want to show you. These cookies can be deleted from your browser history. I personally ALWAYS search incognito or using private browsing. This is the KEY to getting the lowest prices I promise you.
The time you search matters! Try not to search in peak times or during the weekend. I often see prices increase when I search in the afternoon compared to when I search late at night or early morning. It’s all about being low key to get the best prices.
If you're travelling far and there is usually a stopover, I would recommend booking the connecting flights yourself. This is a tip for more experienced travellers as you have to plan very well to avoid any mishaps. So for example, if I was travelling to Toronto, Canada; It may be cheaper for me to book a return flight from London to New York and then a separate return flight from New York to Toronto. PLEASE! do not book tight stopovers because, if you miss your flight due to any delays there is no guarantee you will get on the next flight free of charge. This is more ideal for travellers who wouldn’t mind spending a day or two in another destination to break up a long journey.
Make use of the Multi-Flight tool on travel search engines. This is helpful when booking connecting flights. It also helps you check to see if it’s cheaper flying out from a specific airport and then returning to another. For example, I was able to get my flight to Miami for £150 cheaper by travelling from Manchester and returning to London LHR. Another example, is when I planned to stopover in Dubai for my birthday last year before travelling to Kenya. I booked a multi-flight ticket from Dubai to Kenya and then returning from Kenya to London Heathrow for £205. This meant I only had to purchase a one-way ticket from London to Dubai which was fairly cheap.
There are of course many other tips and tricks, like watching out for airline errors or searching in different currencies to see if the price is less. But for me the tips above are the ones I use often and have found the most helpful. The most important thing is to be cautious when booking flights and always check the fine print. Make sure the sites you are redirected to when using travel search engines, are protected by AOTL or ABTA, so you have a guarantee.
I hope this was helpful and you make the most of your trip wherever you go. Enjoy for me!