It’s on my bucket list to travel to every country in the world, but boy, do those flight ticket costs start to add up fast! This is especially the case if you’re traveling from the US, Canada, Australia or other larger countries, where nearly every international flight is a long haul. But no matter who you are, from the poor student or digital nomad to the holidaymaker or city break lover, you’ll want to find the best deal you can on flights so that you can spend more money on the fun parts of your trip! Here are my top five tips to finding the best flight deal available:
Use Conglomerate Search Sites Such as Skyscanner, Kayak or Google Flights.
Not only will using conglomerate search sites allow you to search a broad range of airlines more easily (let’s face it, no one wants to go through and search each website individually), but they also might tip you off to airlines you’ve never even heard of. Many sites will even allow you to leave your destination open, enabling you to search for the cheapest flight to anywhere when you just need to get away. They also will often show you a range of prices over the course of the month, so you can fly on the cheapest day if your plans are flexible.
Explore Budget Carrier Options.
Although they’re notoriously lacking in comfort and services, companies such as Ryanair, Spirit and other budget airlines will still get you from Point A to Point B in the end. The main thing you’ll want to remember is that it’s in your best interest to limit how much luggage you’re carrying if you’ll be flying on a budget fare. The thing is, these airlines generally make their profits by charging you for extras like baggage, inflight entertainment and meals, access to the airport lounge and any other add-ons to your trip. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’ll know how much luggage you’ll be carrying and the associated fees for each airline before you jump on that “amazing” flight deal!
Use a VPN to Search from Different Locations.
You may not realize that airlines charge different fees based on where you’re located, but they often do! For example, I was recently planning a trip in Thailand with a friend. She was going to come meet me in Bangkok, where I’d already been staying for about a week, and then we were going to fly together to Chiang Mai. Even though we were inputting the same search criteria, I kept pulling up flights that were a lot cheaper than the ones she could find. Turns out, because I was already located in Thailand, I was offered a cheaper ticket to fly somewhere else in Thailand (you can think of it as a kind of locals discount). By using a Virtual Private Network to swap her true IP address for a Thai-based IP address (which is how your device is located), my friend was able to pull up the same fares as me.
Keep an Eye Out for Special Fares.
When I’m looking for a flight, I don’t book the first ticket I can find. Even though it makes a bit more work for myself, I check back over the course of a few days and see which airlines are the cheapest and roughly what the prices are. If those airlines have a mailing list, I’ll sign up for it so that I get deals sent to my email address—and I’ll also sign up for fare alerts so I know when the tickets get cheaper. You can generally count on there being some sort of sale on major holidays, but you’d be surprised how often tickets really go on sale. I follow a couple travel deals Twitter feeds too. Basically, I let everyone else do the work for me! And of course, you’ll also want to sign up for frequent flyer programs (many are free) so that you can rack up those miles and hopefully earn yourself a free flight at some point in the future.
Consider Using Hidden-city Ticketing.
Hidden-city ticketing is booking a flight from your city to a different destination than your actual destination, but with a layover in the place, you actually want to get to. Because airline ticket prices are all based on supply and demand, it may be cheaper to book a ticket from Boston to Seattle with a layover in Denver, for example, than to just book a ticket from Boston to Denver. If you have no checked baggage, there’s nothing stopping you from hopping off the plane in the through-city and skipping out on the continuation of the flight. There are even websites set up to help you search for these cheaper hidden-city tickets. It’s risen in popularity drastically recently, but if you hear someone talking about it, know that airlines don’t want you to do this, and it’s possible that you could get into serious trouble.
Cost is often the biggest hindrance to following through on travel plans, so the more you can save, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to get your trip off the ground. Even if budget isn’t an issue, well, who doesn’t like saving a little money on flights so that they can buy more souvenirs, splurge for that fancy meal or maybe just put a little toward the next trip?
Are you an airfare deals guru? What other advice do you have?
About the author: This article is by Jess Signet, an avid world traveler and frequent flyer.