Those that follow me on Instagram will know that I travel often, normally about once a month, although it isn’t always overseas. This year I’ve also had a fair amount of work travel too, so much so, that last week I went on my 28th flight for 2018. Travelling is not a cheap hobby and with my #take12trips challenge, I have to juggle airfare, accommodation, food, and all manner of other things that cost money. It can be quite a shock for example when the exchange rate isn’t in your favour and a coffee costs $9 – which I experienced in Orlando recently. It soon mounts up, as I have discovered to my distress, and then a cheap getaway suddenly means I’ve had to spend much more than I was planning to. On the whole one of the most expensive parts of a trip is usually airfare and I’m sharing below my 4 top tips for finding cheap flights.
Flexibility is your best friend
Earlier this year I shared my travel saving tips and it was featured in the newspaper too, one of my tips is to try and be flexible. Granted, it’s not always convenient but if you can be flexible with either your dates and/or your destinations it can be surprising what good deals you can get. Apps like Skyscanner allow you to type in your departure location and “everywhere” as your destination. It also has “this weekend”, “next weekend”, and “this month” deals on their homepage if you’re travelling at shorter notice. Equally, you can save searches in Kayak for specific locations and they’ll tell you whether the prices are going up or going down. If you can be flexible with the where and when you can definitely seek out cheap flights, the question is can you go with the flow?
Fly when no one else is
Easier said than done, as trying to determine when the cheapest day to fly is a bit like looking in a crystal ball. The trick is determining which day or month is the cheapest, which usually rules out school holidays I’m afraid. If you’re using Skyscanner on your phone, you can easily look at prices for the whole month (and even upcoming months) by clicking the “chart” option. The chart option will show you the cheapest days in a month (marked in green), mid-range prices (marked in yellow), and the most expensive days (marked in red). It’s also worth looking at the times as well. I’ve found that for some destinations flying back to the UK on an early morning flight is cheaper and less crowded as holidaymakers generally want to maximise their time at the destination.
Don’t be wedded to a particular airport
If you are prepared to fly to and from different airports, it can make a big difference. If for example, you’re using Kayak and looking to fly from London to New York you can select “Include Nearby Airports” and you can also select “New York All Airports”. I’ve just found a flight leaving from Gatwick going to New York JFK and returning to Heathrow from New York Newark for £285 in December. If you’re prepared to so a little ground travel it can get even better. This year I flew into Turin in Italy rather than Milan – even though I was going to Milan – as it was less than half the price. Searching flights from the nearest international airport might lock you into a ticket price that’s higher than it would be elsewhere. If you pick a city you can get to easily, you could possibly even stay a few nights, then fly from there. Flying out of a different city or country on your way home could also be cheaper.
My favourite top tips for finding cheap flights is knowing when tickets go on sale, it’s another important strategy. Flights go on sale throughout the year but knowing when to look for them can help you to bag a bargain. The general rule of thumb is that the earlier you book, the lower the price of the flight. For most big Airlines the seats are released 11 months before the date of departure – I used this strategy when I booked to New Zealand. However be aware that if you booking a round trip ticket you’ll need to book when the return date is announced! Low-cost airlines release flights at certain intervals throughout the year. For example on 15th November Easyjet are releasing their seats for travel between the 2nd September – 26th October 2019 which includes the half term holidays.
I hope you’ve found my top tips for finding cheap flights helpful if you’d like to see more of my travel posts take a look here.
Images all by Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen