Finding and booking cheap flights doesn’t have to be a dark art. We will share our top tools and tips to help you start finding and booking cheap flights to your chosen destination today.
Flights = big expense
Beyond being airlifted off the side of Mt Everest, flights are most likely the single biggest expense you will incur when travelling. This is why we have dedicated a whole section to finding and booking cheap flights.
We want you to get the best value whenever you spend anything from your hard earned travel fund so in this section we give you a few key pointers and considerations.
Before you start searching
Before you get stuck into searching for flights consider if there are other ways to travel on the route you’ve chosen. Obviously if you want to visit Thailand only and live in the UK a flight would be the easiest and cheapest way to go.
However don’t rule out taking overland transport or waterborne methods to travel around. In some areas of the world this could be cheaper and give you a memorable experience. You could even save money by substituting flights with overland travel.
An extreme example of this would be the superb Graham Hughes who became the first person to visit every country in the world without flying.
Assuming there will be at least 1 flight in your travels, what’s the best way to find and book cheap flights?
Our resources for finding and booking cheap flights
It’s important to weigh up the cost of the flight against the convenience when using the tools below as the cheapest flights may not be the best option for you.
As an example you could pick the lowest cost 2 leg flight but the layover could be 14 hours. That’s not really enough time to leave the airport and explore much and if you are looking to save costs you won’t want to book a hotel (ones near airports are usually rather expensive).
We would opt for a shorter layover and feel better when we finally arrive at our destination rather than spend 14 hours in an airport, even the nice ones.
It’s a fairly recent addition to the flight searching arena but backed up by their amazing knowledge of online search this tool works very well.
We like the ability to search an entire region as well as countries. Very handy if you know you want to visit South East Asia for example, you could pick the cheapest place to fly to and work your route around that city.
So it may be that flying to Singapore saves you $200 over flying to Bangkok on the same date but you wouldn’t know that if you are only searching for Bangkok.
This is another great online flight checker and has been around much longer than Google Flights. One of our favourite features is the ability to choose a ‘from’ airport and then select ‘everywhere’.
It’s a quick way to see which destinations there are some good deals on across the globe. It’s also great if you are not fixed on a specific area to fly into, it could be the start of something very exciting.
We also love the ‘whole month’ view, which allows you to quickly see which dates are cheaper to fly on between your selected places.
You might not expect to see this as people now always assume that the best deals are online. If only for the purposes of cross checking, go and see a flight specialist.
Be aware that they might try and up sell you stuff and might even attempt and change your choice of destination if they have healthy incentives to get you to fly elsewhere.
Ask them where they have travelled, try and gauge their travelling experience. It’s best to speak to someone familiar with the cities or regions you want to visit for some insider knowledge at the very least.
We suggest using all 3 resources above and then comparing the prices, timings and and airlines that you come up with.
The final choice is of course yours but we always look for a balance of price and convenience.
Round the World ticket?
It might be that you want to combine several cites, countries or continents with a Round the Word (RTW) ticket. This can be a cost effective way to travel if you are flying on well flown routes. However if you start customising it too much the costs can quickly spiral.
The way to go may be using a flight specialist (mentioned above) as they can often cut a better deal directly with the airlines. Many airlines ‘partner’ each other to make combined tickets cheaper and easier to book.
Again have a look if overland or sea is a better way than flying short distances, it can often be much cheaper and you’ll see more of the places you are visiting.
Airline points, schemes and hacks
A final point to consider before parting with your hard saved travel fund for flights is airline points.
There are tons of loyalty schemes out there run by the various airlines that allow you to accrue some ‘points’ each time you fly that can be used against future flights.
This also extends to credit cards, retailers and other places where you can get extra points for spending money. The upshot is you could earn points for doing your regular spending via a special credit card.
Some travellers have managed to effectively fly around the world for free using various loyalty schemes. Check out Brian Kelly’s website, he’s one of the experts at travel hacking his way around the world with airline points.
- Flights are a big expense, take your time in finding and booking cheap flights
- Can you save by going overland or sea some of the way?
- Check online and with an agent to asses the best deals
- Be flexible on an exact flight date when booking cheap flights
- Check RTW tickets if you have several destinations
- Be smart to earn some points or rewards for future flights
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