I hear ya, travelling can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. Let That Travel Thing guide you through some simple steps to find a cheap flight and get you travelling better and longer! In the era of budget airlines, travel has never been cheaper. Low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet have transformed the short haul market. Once dominated by heavily regulated, high cost national carriers, the market was deregulated and opened up in the 1990s. By the 2010’s the flying experience has been forever changed. Swanning across Europe in the distant past would have set you back considerable sums of money, though with little security threat at least you could rock up 20 minutes before your flight!
For many the budget airlines are universally hated. Think of all those extra baggage fees and charges, tiny leg room or delays. Here’s how to beat them at their own game, get the best price you can!
How to find the elusive cheap flight
Regardless of the falling cost of flying, it is still a big proportion of any travel budget, but does it have to be this way? Below are our favourite ways to find those elusive cheap flights allowing you to get further for less.
Flexibility is a virtue
As a backpacker you will learn to love flexibility! Changing your flight by a day or two can be particularly advantageous as are avoiding busy times, public holidays and peak summer. August is usually an expensive time to fly in Europe as most of us will be heading from the cities to the coast. If you can wait, use the ‘shoulders’ either side of summer in April or September to get a considerably cheaper flight when it’s still warm. Next, flying mid-week such as Tuesday will usually always bring down the cost. Lastly choosing early morning or late evening flights will save you money. However be warned as you still have to get to the airport at an awkward time, often when public transport is closed during the night.
Why pay more for flights?
Gone are the days when a phone call to the travel agent could score you a good flight deal. These days the Internet is your best friend, though be careful as it’s also riddled with tricks to get you paying more.
Pro-tip: Always search for flights in incognito mode in your web browser. This removes cookie tracking, a method airlines use to jack up the price the more you search a particular route. We’ve seen a cheeky few pounds added on the price because of this, don’t let it happen to you!
Another trick (depending on how paranoid you are) you can change your IP address, your ‘location’ to get the best flight deals. We’ve heard stories of a massive difference in the price of a domestic flight when searching in the UK as opposed to outside.
Pro-tip: Install a VPN (virtual private network) on your computer to change your IP address and your ‘location’.
How to find a flight
Step 1. Get a feel for price
Suppose we want to go to Rome in the first week of September. Perhaps your first instinct is to go through a flag carrier such as British Airways. Oh look we found a fully flexible flight for… £429. We can do better than this! Ditch the flexi fare and let’s refine further.
Step 2. Be flexible with your dates
Use Kayak to get a general idea of prices for nearby airports. For long haul it may be cheaper to fly to a nearby airport and then book a separate flight. In this case as it’s short haul we want to lock in our route from London to Rome.
Next, use Skyscanner to dig out prices by day using the cheapest month option. The first week of September gives us a range from £15-70. The cheapest one-way fare is mid-week and on our favorite day… Tuesday.
Step 3. Compare prices
To compare this price, use Momondo on the same date, here this gives us £19. For good measure it’s wise to search with the airline directly as sometimes this is cheaper, on this occasion Ryanair shows a price of £19.99. We book through Skyscanner for £15, score!
Booking through Skyscanner vs British Airways has saved us £414! Not saying that this is typical (who books fully flexible fares anyway!) but this goes to show using a few tools and tricks you can save a massive amount on your next flight!
Our next travel blog – hints and tips piece will be on: how to fly for even cheaper!