On a budget? Here’s how to book cheap flights to your dream destination.
So you already know where you want to go for your vacation this year. You’ve already filed your leave and informed family that “sadly” you won’t be able to join them for the big annual summer outing. You even bought a new luggage because you are expecting to be away longer than usual.
Then it dawned on you that you’ve forgotten the most important thing to do when travel planning: book a flight. Panic starts to creep in as you remember spending a huge chunk of your travel budget on that new Rimowa. Now you need to find the cheapest possible tickets to that dream destination of yours. Fortunately for you, there are proven ways on how to book cheap flights. You can find some of the best ones below.
Use a travel booking app
One-stop travel booking apps such as Skyscanner and Traveloka can help you search, compare, and book cheap flights. Thanks to these apps, you don’t need to visit the different airline websites one by one just to find the cheapest flight.
These apps are also very user-friendly. Just enter your destination, choose your desired dates, and click the search button then the app will give you a list of available flights with the cheapest one usually on top. Many of these apps even have promos that will allow you to save more money on airfare.
Book a red-eye flight
Red eye flights are generally cheaper than flights at more godly hours. You may have to give up a night of sleeping on your comfortable bed, but the savings in airfare that you will get is definitely worth it.
Another advantage of booking a red-eye flight: there’s less traffic going to the airport. And if your destination is just a few hours away, you’ll arrive there in the morning, just in time for breakfast. So just buy a good travel pillow and just get some shut-eye during the flight.
Clear your web browser
Do you know that you can book a cheap flight by clearing your browser of cookies and cached files? When you visit an airline website, it leaves cookies on your computer to track your recent activities. So let’s say you recently searched for a flight going to Sydney, the website most likely left cookies or traces of that search on your computer.
The airline website will take it that you really want or really need to go to Sydney and are therefore willing to pay extra for that ticket. So if you want the airlines to offer you cheap flights, you better clear that web browser.
Watch out for seat sales
It’s no secret that the best time to buy a plane ticket is when an airline is having a seat sale. Airlines hold seat sales for the flimsiest of reasons: Valentine’s, start of summer, Halloween, 20th anniversary, 21st anniversary, etc.
To be updated, make sure you follow your favorite airlines on social media or subscribe to their mailing lists. It is also a good strategy to book a flight on the very first hour of the first day of the sale period. So if an airline is having a sale on March 1, you better be logged on before the clock strikes midnight on February 28.
Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday
If you are flying to a popular business destination such as Hong Kong or Singapore, you can get cheaper flights if you will fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you are flying to a popular tourist destination though such Maldives or Bali, you will be able to get a cheaper flight if you will fly on a Saturday.
Tickets to the USA or Europe also tend to be cheaper for flights leaving on a weekday. And if you want to know what is the cheapest month to travel abroad, Skyscanner’s booking data analysis says it’s January.
Sign-up to an airline rewards program
In the age of budget airlines and frequent seat sales, is it still useful to sign up to an airline’s rewards program? The answer is yes, especially if you are a frequent flyer and loyal to a particular airline. Being a member of a rewards program will allow you to collect points or miles that you can exchange for free flights or upgrades.
Just think about it. If you’ve collected enough miles or points then you won’t even need to wait for a seat sale to get a discounted ticket, you can simply book anytime. Different airlines have different rewards programs though. Make sure you know what you are getting into. You can think of miles as currencies. Some miles simply have more value than others.
Be flexible with your travel plans
If you can’t find cheap flights on the dates that you want, are you willing to make some changes to your travel plans? The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the more chances that you will get a good deal on a plane ticket. Flexibility is probably the one quality that every budget traveler should have. If you are visiting multiple cities, then play with the order of the destinations to see which one will come out the cheapest. Keep in mind that the most logical route may not be the most affordable.
Be open to a long layover
If you are trying to book connecting flights or two separate flights, then being open to a long layover can get you cheap airfare. A long layover is not necessarily a bad thing. You can use the time to explore the city you are in. You can consider it as a trip within a tour trip. Many cities actually offer free tours for travelers on a long layover. In Singapore, for example, you can book a free city tour that will take you around Singapore and then back to the airport just in time for your flight.
If you try any of the tips above (or combine several of them), for sure you will never pay the full price of a plane ticket again.
Allen Dominic Quintos is a freelance writer who has written for TV, print, and various online publications. Apart from writing, he spends his time traveling, enjoying his wife’s vegan cooking, and looking for a new series to binge-watch on Netflix.
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