HOW TO TRAVEL CHEAP :
IN THESE POSTS I WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO SAVE FOR TRAVELS, HOW TO SNAG AWESOME FLIGHT DEALS, HOW TO BUDGET YOUR DAILY SPENDING, AND MORE. MANY ASSUME I’VE BEEN BLESSED WITH SOME IMAGINARY BANKROLL, OR HOW ELSE COULD I HAVE TRAVELED OVER 20 COUNTRIES IN THREE YEARS? “OH, YOUR PARENTS MUST SUPPORT YOU,” I’VE HEARD. WRONG AGAIN. I TRAVEL WITH MY OWN, HARD-EARNED CASH BY BUDGETING AND SEARCHING FOR THE BEST DEALS. TRAVELING OR BACKPACKING ISN’T AS EXPENSIVE AS YOU THINK AND I’M SHARING MY TIPS TO PROVE IT.
First lesson, Airfare
Most hate it. I f*cking love it. When I find a good deal, I get a high like a shopaholic just snagging a designer label bag on clearance. When a friend or family member tells me they’re heading somewhere, I immediately hop online to search deals. Purchasing flights can be frustrating, time-consuming, and annoying, but I promise if you follow just a few of my suggestions, money will be saved.
#1: BEST DAYS TO SEARCH
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are known for the cheapest days to buy airfare. The rates increase on the weekend and don’t drop again until Tuesday morning. I often check on certain flights during the week to test this theory and it is almost always true. Fridays and Sundays tend to be the most expensive days. Holiday time = prices skyrocket. Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, etc. can be much cheaper days to fly on when booking around the holidays. Play around with dates and see for yourself.
#2: WHEN TO BOOK
Many believe booking 5 to 7 weeks prior for the flight will snag you the best price. I’ve found this to work sometimes, but I have found better deals booking months in advance. My suggestion is to look up flights as soon as you’re thinking about planning a trip. Do this to get an idea of how much the flight is and make a point to find a better deal. For example, I recently booked a roundtrip flight from New Zealand to the States. In August I began initial research to test the waters on prices and I found flights around NZ$1100-2000 [US$700-1300]. Auckland to Los Angeles would be my best option for a cheap deal and with that, I set a goal of NZ$800 [US$520]. For the next five months, I checked up on the prices to see if they budged at all knowing I wanted to book for the end of Jan/early Feb. Patience is the key for these pricer flights and I promise it’s worth the wait when you have a few extra hundos in your wallet. If you found an incredible price, but the trip isn’t for months away, purchase it. Most likely it won’t drop much lower and you won’t have to spend more time searching.
#3: CLEAR YOUR COOKIES! [THE INTERNET KIND, NOT THE SNACKS IN YOUR PANTRY]
Another MASSIVE TIP when flight researching. Clear your browsing history, download history, plugin date, cookies, cached images, all of it! Airlines and booking engines are using this to show similar or higher airfares, never cheaper. It “knows” you’ve been looking at a flight from London to NYC and therefore won’t give you a better price. My suggestion is to clear it all and try from different computers, phones, tablets, etc. It sounds crazy, but I promise it’s true. Just before I booked the flight I mentioned before, I grabbed my iPhone and searched the flight again. It gave me a better deal!! Instead of flying out of Auckland [meaning I’d have to sort out another flight] it found a flight $10 cheaper from Wellington. This saved me additional time I’d have to spend traveling to Auckland and the extra expenses of getting there and possibly paying for accommodations [my inner nerd was ecstatic].
#4: BEST SITES TO FIND DEALS
When it comes to researching or booking my number one, go-to flight site is skyscanner.net. The global travel site searches every flight offer available on the web, finding the best deals around. It’s free and it’s available in over 30 languages and 70 currencies. And don’t forget it’s efficient app for those on the go.
This easy-to-use site allows you to select entire countries, not just cities, to find the cheapest options. My favorite feature is the “everywhere” destination selection. This tool finds the cheapest cities to fly to according to your “from” input and list of countries is endless [sometimes I select the current day going “everywhere” and daydream over the places I could escape to].
Another wonderful feature is the choice to select an entire month or even the cheapest month. It allows you to look at every day to find the best deal possible. Once you click on your preferences, it searches all airlines and booking engines available on the web to find you the best prices.
Once you’ve found a decent deal, follow it through to the connecting site to look at the details. Some prices will have increased during this time, Skyscanner prices are constantly changing. If the one you chose is through an outside booking agent for example: expedia, travelgenio, eDreams, I always check out the actual airline website to compare. In most cases it will be more expensive on the airline site, but it’s not always the case. I always recommend booking with the airlines over alternate sites if the price is the same. Budget airlines do not include luggage, sometimes even carry-on luggage, with the ticket price. Make sure you check this before booking because these additional costs can add up quick.
Don’t have enough cash to book your flight? Check out my article on How to Travel Cheap: Saving for the Big Trip.
Other sites to recommend:
statravel – I have found steals on their site [through Skyscanner] and if you’re a teacher, student, or under 26 you can save even more.
Some airlines don’t use Skyscanner therefore I recommend checking out these airline sites for cheap flights in certain regions:
Spirit/Frontier: budget airlines that are manageable for flights up to 5 hours. Be weary they are known for delays and baggage fees, but I flew to South America and back for around US$300 each way with little difficulty. The seats are the greatest and leg room is lacking, but when the price is right, I don’t mind.
Southwest: Always offering deals and bags fly free! The service is usually great and the flights tend to be cheaper than most.
Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific
Watch out for seasonal deals like Aer Lingus, who offer great deals in autumn. I flew roundtrip including multi-cities for just over $700. From Chicago to Dublin for the day to Manchester then on the way home from Amsterdam to Chicago via Dublin. If you have a layover it’s worth checking out if you could stay a few hours longer if you are interested in seeing the city. Before I flew to Lima, Peru I spent the day at the beaches in Ft. Lauderdale soaking up the sun before hopping on my night flight. If you have hours on a layover and the city is accessible, GO! Explore new places, eat cheaper and better food than the airport, and stretch your legs before your next flight.
Follow these tips and I promise you’ll thank me. Heck, if you hate searching for flights shoot me an email [email@example.com] and I’ll help you find the best price! In the end I hope these tips help and influence your wanderlust spirit to explore this magnificent world we are so lucky to call home.