Travel tips Photo courtesy of Paul John Nelson

Published on March 10th, 2014 | by Tayla Gentle


9 foolproof tips for getting cheap flights

Read time: a bit over 3 minutes

For most people, travel can be an expensive hobby. The lead up to securing one of those ever elusive sale-fare economy seats generally involves a lot of penny pinching, sobriety and instant noodles.  But there are ways of getting yourself around the world on the cheap. This here is a tight-arse guide for all you travellers with big dreams and small bank accounts:

1. Embrace spam

Hands down, the best thing for your adventure budget is to ditch any form of inbox filtering. Instead, tick ‘yes’ to receiving every airline newsletter and welcome the e-flood. Hidden somewhere among the plethora of competition entry forms and two-for-one deals is bound to be a little travel treasure.

2.  Fly Christmas Day

If you aren’t a traditionalist, or just can’t be bothered dealing with your second cousins this festive season, beat the Boxing Day rush and avoid the Christmas Eve price hikes by jetting off on Christmas day. Eat your pudding on the plane, settle in for a little Home Alone on the small screen and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve worked a Christmas miracle – a cheap airfare during the holiday period.

 3. Leave your seat to chance

Never fall for the old ‘allocate your seat on booking’ trick. It may be tempting to nab yourself a window seat while online, but its common practice for airlines to charge for that little convenience. Run the risk of a middle seat and save yourself the precious dollars. You never know, the check-in attendant may take a liking to your face and pass an upgrade your way.

4.  Don’t eat (unless free)

This applies to everything both in-flight and in terminals. Food, when it’s in any way associated with flying, is a total rip-off. For that one cappuccino they’ll likely ask for $5.50 and your first-born child. So don’t splash cash on that dry ham sandwich, just hang on till touchdown.

5. Fare over destination

So you never imagined heading to Moldova, but the return flights are ridiculously cheap? Wanted to do Paris but Barcelona is a better deal? Just do it, like a Nike commercial. Adventure can be had anywhere in the world, so run with the sale fare and see where it takes you.

 6. Buy insurance

Spend money to save money, you say? It may sound all lame and responsible, but if you miss your flight, lose your baggage or are turned around mid-air, a little thing called insurance will save you from dishing out those extra pennies at the last moment.

7. Don’t celebrate the holidays

Unless you’re a teacher, there’s no excuse for booking flights that coincide with any school/uni/public holiday periods. Not only will fares be considerably lower if you avoid these congested times, but you won’t have to deal with lusty teenagers crowding the beach or tired babies screaming on your stopover.

8. Leave the car at home

Seriously, if you can get yourself across Europe hitchhiking on the back of a local’s donkey, then you can leave the car in the garage and catch a taxi to the airport. Even call in those last-minute family favours and get your younger sister to drop you at the international terminal. Do you know how much long-term parking is? Do you?!

9. Mix and Match

Don’t feel locked in to flying return with the same airline. Flexibility is the key to discount flying, so scour the interwebz for all possible options and go with whatever’s the cheapest. A layover in LA is definitely worth saving $250, as is departing with Qantas and returning with Jetstar.

So, next time you’re despairing at the sight of your dwindling bank account, don’t give up. With a little know-how and a whole heap of wanderlust, you too can nab yourself a seat en route to adventure.

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About the Author

A sucker for air fare sales to Asia and a good story, I've eaten my body weight in Philippine chicken, trekked the highlands of Myanmar and practiced with a very legit yogi in India. He could stand on his head for three hours. I once got lost in a rainforest in El Salvador and found myself eating burritos with a corn farmer. To me, travel means bantering with tuk tuk/moto/jeepeney drivers, mosquito bites and coconuts. But never socks and sandals, not when travelling, not ever.

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