When you travel as much as we do, the cost of flights can soon add up.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be spending more money on tours, activities and adventures than on getting to the countries we’re going to!
Throughout our travels I’ve managed to get some cracking deals on flights. I think my personal best was 38 Euros (£33/$45) to fly our whole family of four from Pula, Croatia to London. That’s 38 Euros in total! Not each.
In this blog post I’m going to share with you the Top 10 Flight Hacks we use to make sure we get an awesome deal every time and don’t get stung by the airline price hikes!
Let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to share them with your friends and family!
Flight Hack No 1: Use Skyscanner To Compare Flights
Using a travel comparison site can have loads of advantages. You can compare the prices from different airlines and also see all the flight times available too. I personally like www.skyscanner.com the best for two simple reasons:
1: They let you search for flights to “Everywhere” so you can set your departure airport and they’ll show you all the flights heading out on the dates you select. This means you can see what locations are available and which is the cheapest destination on the date you want to go.
2: They let you search for prices for a departure month, not just one date so you can easily see which dates are more affordable than others.
3: When you choose to book a flight skyscanner just sends you direct to the airlines website, so you’re not booking through a third party and there’s no added risk for you.
Flight Hack No 2: Be Flexible On Dates
So this tip alone can save you a HUGE amount of money on your flights. The cost of a flight can vary by hundreds of pounds depending on the date you want to travel. If you’re travelling in school holidays then you’re pretty stuck, but if you can be flexible on your dates then even just shifting by a day or two can save you loads.
Here is a couple of examples from trips I am currently planning:
London to Bangkok in December – Fly on Saturday 8th and it will cost you £573. Go a day earlier and you’ll only pay £427. Go the week before and you’ll only pay £372! That’s a potential saving of £201 per person, each way, just by shifting the dates! That’s an £800 difference for my family of 4.
London to Marrakech in March – To fly on Thursday 7th March will cost you £142, but go 1 day earlier and it’s only £50! That’s a saving of £92 per person, each way. Add that up over a family of 4 and you’re saving £368 on just one short flight.
As I mentioned in the section above www.skyscanner.com will let you search for a whole month, not just a single date, so you can see which your cheapest options are in the month you want to travel. We’ve literally saved thousand’s just doing this.
Flight Hack No 3: Use An Incognito Window
Whilst the comparison sites are REALLY helpful, they are a little sneaky too. When you visit their site they drop a cookie (a little bit of code) onto your device. This cookie stays on your pc or phone and tells the website that you’ve been there before.
If you search for flights multiple times or over several weeks you’ll notice that the prices seem to increase every time. This is an attempt to make you “panic buy” and book your flights today.
But there is a way around it. When searching for flights be sure to use an incognito window. This will block any cookies that you’ve picked up from previous visits to the site from working, and make sure you get the best prices for your flights.
One more thing. The incognito browser only stops previous cookies from being recognised. So you will pick up new cookies within the browsing session. The best way to combat this is to close your incognito browser every few searches, then open up a new one to continue searching. This will help keep you pretty much cookie free while you look for your flights.
Flight Hack No 4: Don’t Search At Peak Times
This is something I learned whilst booking our last trip to Montenegro. I couldn’t quite decide on a route which meant I was considering several different arrival airports. When it was finally time to book I looked on Skyscanner (using incognito as above) but the prices had leapt up by nearly 40%!
I was a bit cross with myself because I had spent too long planning and changing my mind. But even then, I couldn’t understand the price hike in just a few days?
So I did a bit of research and I found out that the cost of flights can increase depending not only the day you wish to travel, but also the day you are making the booking!
I was searching on a Bank Holiday Sunday, which had hiked the prices right up! I decided to hold off a few days and see what happened. There were a few people suggesting that Tuesday night was the best time, so I thought I’d give it a try.
A bit of a gamble but it was correct!
Flight Hack No 5: Travel Hand Luggage Only
Sometimes the cost of a checked bag is more than the flight itself! Most European airlines charge between £20/£30 each way per bag. Multiply that by a family of 4 and you’re looking at nearly £200 return on just luggage!
Now I know hand luggage only may seem like a challenge, but actually it’s easier than you think! I’m going to write a full post about it later and I’ll post the link here.
Flight Hack No 6: Go One Way & Check Out Multi City Options
Return flights aren’t always the best option. Be sure to check out the price for booking each way individually, even with different airlines, and if you’re planning to visit multiple locations then try a multi-city search too. Skyscanner will let you do this.
It can get a little complicated when you’re doing so many searches so be sure to keep track of your results in a speadsheet or word doc for easy reference!
Flight Hack No 7: Be Flexible On Destination
Being flexible on your dates isn’t the only way to save money on your flights. If your destination isn’t set in stone, then you can find some amazing deals and end up having adventures you’d never have expected!
Our trip to Portugal came about just like this. We’d spent January in the Canary islands but our friends were all moving so we decided to explore somewhere new. We didn’t know where to go but cheap flights came up for Portugal.
We did a bit of research and gave it the go ahead! Portugal had NEVER been on my bucket list but actually I really loved it and it would have been a shame to miss out! We explored the hidden tunnels of Quinta Da Regaleira, stood on the most Westerly point of all of Europe and sunbathed on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Now, I’m not suggesting you book your location based solely on the cost of your flight, but that being flexible in your destination can lead to unexpected and affordable destinations that have a lot to offer you.
Flight Hack No 8: Be Flexible On Departure Airport
You don’t always have a choice on this, but it’s something to consider if you do. If you’ve got a selection of airports within an easy distance be sure to check flights out of all of them. It’s not always the obvious choice that gives the best results.
For example when we travel from England our closest airport is Bournemouth. It’s super small, super convenient…and super expensive. London is often our cheapest option but even then we have 3 London airports to choose from. Sometimes Gatwick is cheaper, sometimes it’s Stansted. It’s pretty much never Heathrow which is a shame because that’s the most convenient. We also have three more airport options available within a 2 hours drive – Bristol, Southampton and Exeter. So as you can see there’s a lot of choice!
Checking out all your options will make sure you get the best price available to you.
Flight Hack No 9: Don’t Be Tricked By False Economy
So following on from the last section – Just because the actual flight is cheaper, doesn’t mean it’s your cheapest option. Be sure to add up all the costs involved with the specific flight you are choosing.
For example, a flight from an airport further away from home will mean you’ll need a train or taxi to the airport. If you’re driving, add up your fuel costs and the price of parking.
An early morning flight may be cheaper to book but then will you need an airport hotel? I’ve made this mistake myself a couple of times. Then there’s breakfast to add on to it and any other costs involved in an extra day’s stay.
By adding up all the costs involved in getting to the airport, eating, parking and flying, you’ll be able to see which is cheapest flight option overall for you.
Flight Hack No 10: Don’t Waste Money On Pre-Booked Seats
For some people, pre-booked seats are probably worth the investment. If you’re travelling as a single adult with young kids I wouldn’t recommend this hack, because it may be more stress for you than it’s worth.
Or if you’ve got especially long legs then it’s probably a cost worth shelling out for, but being 5ft 2 that’s not something I have to worry about!
But for many people paying to pre-book a seat is just an unnecessary waste of cash.
If you don’t pre-book then you run the risk of being separated from the rest of your party. But with most budget airlines charging you between £6-8 per person each way there’s a potential saving of £60 return for a family of 4 up for grabs.
Personally we take the risk.
We check in online as early as we can which reduces the possibility of rubbish seats. They don’t seat you separately as a punishment – Only if there are no groups of seats left available. With two adults, a teen and a 7 year old we figure we’d be ok even if we got separated.
As long as Jake (7) could be next to one of us then we’d be happy enough and on the off chance that we got saddled with 4 individual seats (unlikely but possible), I would have no problem in asking people to switch with us until I found someone who was willing. This has never happened yet though.
So, not for everyone, but a hack worth baring in mind if you’re happy to take the risk of sitting alone.
These flight hacks are real, tried and tested techniques that I use everytime we book a flight. They’ve served us well and I’m sure you’ll love them too.
If you like these flight hacks be sure to share them with your friends and family!