It’s not a secret – the biggest part of an international travel budget usually goes for transportation. Maybe a 4-star hotel in Bangkok does cost 20 euro for two, and we could probably afford to stay there for ages eating their tasty street food, but what about getting there?
Maybe Mombasa is quite affordable to live in, but flights to Kenya exceed a budget of many. Just like your mommy probably kept on telling you when you were a kid – there’s nothing for free in life. But sometimes you can get things at a very good price – especially if you know where and how to search.
I will share my best practices in looking for the greatest airfare deals.
How to book a cheap flight?
In most cases, I don’t really know where I’d like to travel to. Maybe I’m thinking about a certain region – like for instance, I like traveling in Africa and Middle East, so I have some countries in mind and they always come first – but it’s never one place.
Being spontaneous makes me happy, but apparently, it doesn’t always make my credit card happy 😉 That’s the reason why, before I book, I implement a special “tactics” which has been working for me for two years already. It also applies if you’ve already decided on a destination and you’re only hunting for the best deal.
7 golden rules of booking a cheap flight I follow
1. Subscribe to newsletters of all trustworthy airlines. Personally, I simply have a folder on my e-mail where I store them all. I check them briefly every day in case something interesting pops up.
2. Subscribe to websites aggregating special deals (for instance: Fly4Free.com, HolidayGuru, Urlaubspiraten etc). Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to get all the updates. Some of their updates are really attractive. Who wouldn’t like to fly to Laos from Europe for as little as 280 euro?
If there’s no offer which satisfies you, try searching manually:
3. Check Skyscanner for the cheapest destinations and travel dates. They have this cool calendar showing you how much does it cost to fly on a certain day. They also give an option to choose “everywhere” as your destination (I love it!). Using those both functions enables you to find the cheapest destination in a certain period of time. Once you choose the place, find the cheapest date and know the price…
4. … check Momondo. Every time I book with them, they turn out to be one of the two websites with the lowest airfares – right next to Skyscanner. Both of them are search engines – they compare prices from various booking sites and give you the best overview on what’s out there. For instance, I flew from Budapest to Tel Aviv for 130 Euro and from Dusseldorf to Nairobi for 460 Euro (round trip) when I booked via Momondo. But the connection from the example below costs less when booked via Skyscanner. Why? One day I will write another post on how price comparison websites/search engines work 🙂
A regular price to Tanzania (Kilimanjaro) reaches 550 Euro. Using a calendar, within 5 minutes I found it for 322 Euro, which means I saved circa 50% that could be later used on hotel stays, food and local tours (like the one I took in Marangu).
5. If you plan a multi-city trip, go to Google Flights. In my opinion, they have the best tool for checking prices and planning a trip including multiple places. They show you how much each flight will cost you, what’s the provider and the total amount. Once you know this you can check the same connections on Momondo. Don’t forget, you will need things such as travel insurance, so click here to find out more.
6. For some European destinations, I recommend you Germanwings and try their blind booking. This solution works really well especially during holidays or last minute trips. Prices are always fixed (66 Euro for a round trip), so regardless of the date, you’ll pay one price. You can also exclude certain locations – it costs 5 euro extra per destination – but in many cases it’s still going to be cheaper than a last minute booking. I already described this option in my post: Blind Booking With Germanwings: Fly To Unknown For 33 EUR Only.
7. Always be prepared and ready to buy. Sometimes deals are really “hot” and if you don’t make up your mind quickly and make a booking right away, you’ll miss your chance.