I have to admit, nothing gets me more excited than being able to score cheap flights! That “ohmygod” moment where you can’t believe how cheap the flight is…and even when you’re not planning to go anywhere, you find yourself typing in your credit card details because it’s a deal that’s too good to be true. At the risk of sounding too geeky, booking cheap flights (as well as eating pizza) gives me butterflies. In our 3 years of non stop travel, we’ve scored some ridiculously great deals. $10 flights around Asia, $28 flight from Italy to Amsterdam, and a $780 ticket from the Europe to South America to the US. So, how do we do it? Here are 20 of our travel hacks to help you feel giddy as you score cheap flights!
1. Start with a Flight Search Engine
Before I even go to any airlines website, the first thing I do is check out flight search engines. This will help give you a feel of prices and help you compare which airlines to use. While there are a million and one (okay, I’m exaggerating) flight comparison sites, we are loyal Skyscanner users. It’s very user friendly, it’s fast, and they have useful tools like selecting to view the prices for a whole month to see when fares are at it’s cheapest.
2. Don’t Always Fly Direct
While time is valuable, if you really want to save a couple of bucks, consider looking for multi city routes. Sometimes, taking a long layover or even landing in one destination then taking a budget carrier to your final destination works out cheaper. Mix and Match airlines to help you find the best deal. Although it takes a little more time and effort, it is more often than not worth it.
3. Experiment on Flight Combinations
When you’re looking into flights, get creative. Check the prices for a one way ticket. Check the prices for a round trip ticket. Check the prices for individual legs of your trip. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and experiment. I once took a flight from San Francisco to LA then to St. Louis, booking them all separately. The result? My flight was $70 cheaper! While this isn’t always a guarantee, it is still worth looking into.
4. Go Budget
Budget airlines are God’s gift to frequent travellers like myself. They are cheap, they get the job done, and oh, did I mention they are cheap? While you really have to read the fine print and make sure you’re not being charged for extras, budget carriers like Ryan Air, Air Asia, and Easy Jet allow you to get from point A to point B for almost nothing. While some of these airlines try to charge you for anything additional (extra baggage, water, etc.) as long as you read the rules, you are covered.
5. Get Rid of the Cookies
6. Follow Airline Companies on Social Media
As boring as it sounds, following airlines which cover routes that you are interested in allows you to keep up to date in regards to any promos and deals. Sometimes, some of these airlines might even have special deals just for their Facebook or Twitter fans. Sites like Airfare Watchdog posts great deals on their FB pages. This brings me to my next point…
7. Email Subscriptions are Your Best Friend
Whilst I try to minimize subscribing to loads of newsletters, I make sure to sign up for useful newsletter updates to help keep me in the loop. Sites like SecretFlying.com also have loads of discounts and error fares listed. As for email subscriptions, I recommend looking into:
- Budget Airlines which travel your route (In my case, Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile)
- Flight comparison companies
- STA if you’re under 26
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8. Seat Sales are Sent From Heaven
Apart from following these airline companies online, I also sign up for whatever membership program they have. This will give you all the inside scoop on all their seat sales. My former boss once scored $100 roundtrip flight from Manila to Australia during one of Air Asia’s seat sales. $100….I mean…really?? If you’re traveling all over ASIA, also look into the Air Asia ASEAN Pass which can save you a bit of moolah.
9. Use a VPN
Often times, International or even domestic tickets can be cheaper depending on where you’re searching from. Adjust your point of sale as airlines often charge people differently, depending on where you are coming from. I experienced this first hand when both my parents and sister were looking at the exact same flight. It was around $80 more expensive for my sister who was in Hong Kong. Cheeky, right? The solution? Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide your location or pretend to be somewhere else. This works particularly for direct airline bookings rather than through a flight comparison site.
10. Ticket for One, Please.
Avoid booking for multiple people at once. Start your search with one person and compare the fares. This holds true for those booking for large families or friends. It can turn out to be cheaper if you book the flights individually as airlines limit the number of seats on a flight that they sell on a discounted rate.
11. Stick to Your Local Currency
Unknown to a few, you will save a few dollars here and there if you keep your local currency. Flights in converted rates often go up a couple of dollars here and there due to the conversions. So do yourself a favor and select the native country as your location to get the best deal possible.
12. Be an Early Bird or a Night Owl
As most people normally don’t like traveling really early in the mornings to late at night, prices for these flights are often cheaper. Don’t be afraid to take check out these flights at you will often find them cheaper than most.
13. Use Alternative Airports
If you live near a few airports, it is also often worth it to check the price of flying out from other smaller hubs. Although it takes a little bit more time, traveling by bus to a different airport can save you a couple of dollars. Weigh out your options and see what works best for you.
14. Make Use of Credit Card Perks
Credit cards have loads of hidden perks when it comes to flying. Everything from accumulating miles, free travel insurance, to special discounts. Make the most out of these perks and while you’re at it, sign up for airline rewards programs! Loads of freebies like extra legroom or upgrades are often given to their members. While I’m a newbie when it comes to travel hacking….I know loads of people who save tons of money from this.
15. Be Flexible
One of the things that I can’t stress enough is flexibility. If you want cheap flights, be willing to move your schedule around. Take longer layovers, travel light (no extra luggage!), and be willing to take on the flights that no one wants. Although it is not the most comfortable, just suck it up! I saved almost $300 taking a longer route to get to South America. Although that longer route entailed 2 more flights in between (+12 more hours), at the end of the day, I arrived in Ecuador with an extra $300 to live off. Consider flying during off season as well to get the lowest rates possible.
16. Go Easy on the Baggage
If you’re going to a lot of trouble to save a couple of bucks, don’t blow it all by lugging 2 bags with you. I recently made the choice of giving up my big backpack and start using just a carryon bag. Whist it’s a bold move considering I fit everything I own into one bag, this will also save me from paying for baggage ever again. Now, I only need to make sure I stick to the weight limit…
17. Extend Your Stopovers
One perk that not a lot of people makes use of is making the most your of their stopovers. Take Iceland Air, you can essentially stop in Iceland (for up to 7 days) for free. This gives you the freedom to hit two birds with one stone, allowing you to explore another destination (without having to pay for it.) Turkish Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Finnair also allow you to stop in the main country where the airline is based. So…Iceland anyone?
18. Sleep in the Airport
While I don’t recommend this to everyone, if you are reaaallly want to get the best deal, take on long layovers and be willing to sleep in airports in ungodly hours. While it sounds exhausting, some airports aren’t that bad! We’ve spent the night in Singapore Airport more times than I can count. (P.S. Did you know they have a FREE movie house inside the airport?!)
19. Set Up Price Alerts
You know that box that pops up that often asks you to set up price alerts? I used to think they were a joke….until I finally used it. It would send me an email every time the price would go up, saving me from the feeling of my heart dropping as I found out the flight I have been watching just got more expensive.
20. Lastly, our tip is JUST BOOK IT!
If you see a ridiculously cheap flight or travel deal, just book it. Chances are, they won’t go any cheaper. If it’s enough to make you go, “oh wow, that’s cheap”, book it!
Hopefully, you learned one or two (or twenty) useful tips to help you score cheap flights! While all of this sounds like a lot of planning and effort, the savings that you can get from trying out these tips can equate to a week’s worth of traveling. Happy flying!
Looking for more travel tips? Check out our other articles below to help you travel like a pro
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- 5 Ways to Save For Travel: Top Tips and Tricks