You can travel a million ways but regardless if you love luxurious vacations or you try to find a way to your budget-efficient trips, finance management is an art on its own. Everyone who travels a lot would tell you that he or she keeps a close eye on the budget, because if you can save some bucks and spend it later (another trip?), why not to do it? The biggest entrepreneurs in the world are known to count every cent they spend, always negotiating prices and they always know when and what they paid for (so they don’t spend money like water). As for travelling, it’s the same – there are countless expenses and it’s really easy to overestimate something and quickly have your cash run away from you like the best receiver in NFL.
My grandpa always said that “better to have few coins more in your wallet than not to have them” and in accordance with this principal I plan my expenses during every trip carefully, regardless of my chosen travelling style.
Flight tickets are usually the most expensive part of the journey. However, there are lots of tips that let you buy them cheaper and in case of many flights, especially intercontinental ones, these tricks can translate to savings of even few hundreds USD.
Today I prepared for you 10 tips I always use while booking my flight tickets. They are a kind of mantra of mine – hard, proved and tested. When I apply these rules I always end in plus in my travel budget.
And I am writing this for you from Miami, to which I escaped from the winter for the second time (do you remember the post from the last year? HERE). And even though I planned this trip at the last moment, unexpectedly you can say (I don’t recommend that), using the few tips I know, I managed not to exceed my budget.
1. Buying flight ticket off-season
Let’s begin with one thing: while choosing your destination you should think twice, if you want to go there in the height of the season (in Europe it’s usually the vacation months, from May to end of September, in other parts of the world it usually depends on climate, like for instance dry or wet season). Usually avoiding the most popular months lets you buy tickets much cheaper and it doesn’t have to mean that the weather would be disastrous. I am a huge supporter of the idea of not going to hot touristic places in the height of the season, because not only flight tickets would be more expensive then but also local prices would be higher. Not even to mention crowds of tourists surrounding you everywhere. Who needs that?
2. Buying flight ticket on particular weekends
Another important thing to remember is that the flight ticket prices vary very much not only depending on the season but also on the weekday. Usually Tuesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest. So, while planning your trip it is worth to work departure and return fights into these days. And avoid booking Fridays and weekends. I usually do it like this: I open a search engine, like Skyscanner and check the departure on Monday in the week I want to travel and then I check other weekdays, looking for the cheapest flight. These 2-3 days make a huge difference. Here is an anti-example from my trip to Mexico. It was a spontaneous trip in December (height of the season) and moreover I decided to fly back home before Christmas, just before Christmas Eve to be specific (I had no other option). What was the result? The return ticket, bought in hot season, Friday before Christmas Eve = budget disaster. I paid for it through the nose (knowing what I was doing) but a flight literally 3 days before or 3 days after would cost me 50% less (but then I would not see a few caves in Mexico or miss the Christmas dumplings). I already did it, so learn on my example, what should not be done ;)
3. Buying flight ticker in advance
If you plan to buy flight tickets, especially to distant places and in hot dates (like Thailand during winter) you should definitely consider booking them earlier. If you are 100% sure that you are going to fly, you have your holiday leave approved by your boss etc., nothing stops you from buying the ticket even a few months earlier. Usually it is said that you should do it 50 to 100 days before the departure – it should guarantee you the best price. But it’s not always the case, especially when it comes to very popular routes, which are fully packed or to places with regular fights. Then the difference in price between shorter and longer advance is not that much visible. Let’s take my Miami flight as the example. Seemingly the height of the season, intercontinental flight but a very popular one. I bought it a week before the departure and round flight price was PLN 1900. I checked this date 3 months earlier and the price was almost the same. So, this recipe is not always a hit but generally you don’t lose your money – the price is more or less similar regardless of the calendar.
4. Buying return ticket immediately
This recipe works out every time. If you buy so-called round ticket, there and return, in the same transaction, the price will always be lower than if you bought two separate tickets. Again, the already known example of my flight to Miami. Even though I don’t know yet for sure, when I will go back to Poland, I decided to buy a return ticket for a likely date. The calculation was really simple. One-way Warsaw-Miami ticket would have cost me PLN 2500 and the round flight ticket was only PLN 1900. Even if I won’t use the return flight ticket, the round flight was cheaper than two flights bought separately. So plan your return trip wisely!
5. Using the browser incognito mode
Carriers are really crafty buggers and they have their ways to make the flights you really want much more expensive. Based on your browser history they can get all kinds of data about you and evaluate, which flight has been searched for the most. That’s why, especially for us (aren’t they just adorable?) they bid up the price! Of course no airline would officially admit that but we, travelers, know that prices can change drastically in a matter of minutes. Currency, in which the prices are shown, also matters (try changing it to USD for flights to USA) and the country in geolocation too. Incognito (or private) mode becomes your friend then. Using it in your browser lets you avoid abrupt increases of the prices, which are result of tracking your searches. Like it is said in Poland – if they won’t hit us, we will hit them! :D
6. Travelling with hand luggage only
One of the biggest parts of a flight ticket (apart from the taxes) is the registered luggage. And the easiest way to eliminate this cost is learning the ancient ways of minimalism. The more I travel, the often I realize how little stuff I use at the end. Back in the days I was not able to choose clothes and my suitcases were full to the brim with stuff I never even had a chance to use during my trip. Now I am a huge supporter of basic set of clothes I can easily combine into many various outfits, while the additions change the character of the final choice. For week-long or weekend trips I always travel with hand luggage only, so-called cabin suitcase. I put on the heavier boots, warmer jacket or sweater on and I always choose miniature cosmetics. Simple tricks but thanks to them small suitcase will be more than enough. Bonuses: you don’t have to check your luggage in or wait for it after arrival. In spite of appearances it can speed up your journey and makes it a lot easier to organize.
7. Loyalty programs and collecting miles
Every airline has its own loyalty programs and offers various discounts for regular customers. Registration is usually free and then you only have to patiently (reaaaaally patiently) collect points or miles. Miles are simply “loyalty points”, with which the airline rewards you for flying their plane. In the simplest converters covered distance = number of miles. I, for example, gather miles in Miles&More program. I have my loyalty card and loyalty ID number, so with every flight with airlines taking part in this program, I put it in during booking process. Miles are counted automatically. The longer or further the flight is, the bigger the discount. Recently I lowered the cost of the flight to Greece with the collected miles.
8. Subscription to airline newsletters
It is also worth to subscribe to airline newsletters, because they send you info about special offers or discounts for flights. It’s always good to know what’s going on. Besides, it’s also another source of travel inspirations (the argument “I’ll fly there, ‘cause the ticket was half the price” is not as dumb as it might seem at first ;) ).
9. Paying attention to currency conversion
If you buy flight tickets in another currency than your national one, so for example for Poland it would be an American carrier (United Airlines), this carrier shows prices in its local currency and the portal you use, converts it into your currency. You lose money that way. In order to avoid such situation, you should go to the website settings and check if there is an option to display prices in the carrier’s currency. If you don’t have account in this currency (usually it is EUR or USD), I recommend you to create an account in Revolut, which lets you exchange money at conversion rate the most profitable you can get.
10. Booking flights with no meals served
I recommend this option for several reasons. First of all the health reasons. If you take care about your body and shape, food served on board is the worst you can gift to your own organism. It’s mass-produced, usually not from the best ingredients, stored very long and then microwaved – it can’t be healthy. I used to eat all the meals served on board, until I read more about the production process and talked with few friends who work in several airlines. And until the moment my stomach hurt regardless of airlines I was flying with. It was the nail in the coffin. Now I take my own food and light snacks. I feel much healthier and better. So, why should I pay for meals I would not even open? You can combine business with pleasure. Some airlines, like Norwegian, have an option to buy a flight with no meals served, what always means a few bucks saved and an additional benefit to your health.
And to let you save a little more during your travels, here is a discount for my candy (but not only) WITTCHEN suitcases, which perfectly fit in my Miami trip and local street art. There is a special offer now for them and on the top of that with code TKF_WITTCHEN3 you’d get additional 5% discount for them and all the other suitcases. This code is valid in period of 22.02–01.03.2019.
So, what you saved during booking your flight could be spend on suitcases :) You know, your account should be balanced! ;)
P.S. The photos for this post were done in one of my favorites, colorful districts of Miami – Wynwood, which is famous of its street art and murals of the greatest artists in the world. It’s an awesome place, I wrote about it HERE.
Till next time, travelers![:]