Depending on how long you’ve been planning on a trip, you may or may not be financially ready to purchase your flights. If you have been saving up – congratulations, that’s fantastic! If you haven’t yet, that’s totally okay – either way, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand just to have an idea of how much money you’ll need for your flights. You may also be interested in part I & part II of how to save up for an upcoming trip.
1. INCOGNITO OR PRIVATE BROWSING
If you’re using a Mac: Command + Shift + N
If you’re using a PC: Ctrl + Shift + N
2. START WITH GOOGLE FLIGHTS
If you’re flexible on the date or the destination of your travels Google Flights is the best place to start your search as it has access to all major airlines as well as many budget airlines all around the world. There are two ways to search for cheap airfare on Google Flights:
- IF YOU ARE FLEXIBLE WITH THE DATE OF YOUR TRAVELS – enter your preferred airport to fly out of, to get even more rates, you can add other airports by clicking the add button (see photo below) and choosing nearby airports. Do the same for your destination. From here, you have three viewing options: “Calendar”, “Flexible dates”, and “Price graph”, which are all incredibly helpful tools when it comes to choosing the cheapest flights. Play around with each option and see which one you prefer.
- IF YOU ARE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR DESTINATION – enter your preferred airport to fly out of, using the steps mentioned above. Choose “one way” flight even if you are looking for a return ticket, this is just so you can see the cheapest days to fly (that’s if you have some flexibility with your departure or return date). Leave the “where to?” or your destination empty, and click on the map to “Explore destinations” and voila! The world’s your oyster! The picture below shows flights from Vancouver to all major cities in Australia – Sydney being the cheapest one.
3. COMPARE BOOKING OPTIONS
Now that you’ve found a specific flight you’re interested in, you can compare your booking options.
- SKYSCANNER – skyscanner is my top pick for flights as it always offers lower rates than Google Flights. It also has the “Explore Map” and “Calendar” option to an extend + a bonus option which shows you the “Cheapest Month” to fly to your destination.
- TRAVEL AGENCIES – another way to purchase a flight you have already found is to take all the information to a travel agency – they can book the same flight at a discounted price.
- AIRWANDER – if you are flexible with your dates then why not extend your layover and tick off another destination on your list, all while saving money! I know, it’s hard to believe that you could have a stopover somewhere and end up paying less for your flight but AirWander does just that! You can choose the length of your stopover and the website gives you a list of all the different destinations you could visit. And that’s not all – AirWander allows you to choose as many stopovers as you like, making it the easiest way to book multiple flights!
4. KNOW YOUR PRICE BRACKET
Before searching for a flight, have a reasonable price bracket in mind that you’re comfortable with. If you have no idea, do a quick Google search to see what the average flight goes for during the time of the year you’re planning on traveling. If you find a flight within your price bracket I’d suggest you book it right away. Although a lot of companies like to advertise “savings on last minute flights”, the reality is that you save so much more by planning ahead and booking your flights in advance.
5. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL POINTS!!!
Using cash has been a foreign concept to me ever since I turned 19 and was able to have a credit card. I’ve used my visa and AMEX for every big or small purchase that I possibly can. I even asked to pay my student loan back using my credit cards – turns out you can’t pay a loan back with another loan. 😀 It’s the BEST feeling to use all those points you’ve been collecting towards free flights! Just make sure you’re paying your monthly statements in full because the points are definitely not worth it if you’re paying 20% interest on loans you owe the bank. Get in touch with your bank today to ask about how many points you’ve collected over the years!
THINGS TO REMEMBER…
CAREFULLY READ THE LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS, paying close attention to size and weight. Most budget airlines only allow one piece of carry-on and that includes your camera bag, laptop bag, or even a small purse. Most budget airlines will get you to pay an extra fee for your checked-in luggage(s).
CHECK THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE AIRPORT AND YOUR ACCOMMODATION. Make sure to check both your departure and arrival distances before booking your flights. Sometimes it’s not worth it to book with a budget airline that flies from further out the city centre, if you have to pay more for a taxi, bus, or train to get to the airport.
Last but not least, make sure to ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINTS! Some budget airlines require you to print your boarding pass while others are okay with an electronic copy. Some ask you to have the same credit card which you purchased your flight with, etc. etc. All these rules and regulations are clearly stated on your booking confirmation – take the extra few minutes to carefully read through the entire thing and it’ll keep you from paying any extra fees on the day of your travels.