Booking your flights is simultaneously the most exciting and stressful part of planning a trip. More often than not it marks the moment that you truly decide you’re going to go; once you click confirm there’s no going back on your adventure, not unless you want to waste a lot of money! We have all encountered the stressful side of it too though, when you have multiple tabs open in your browser and you’re hesitating to choose an airline. You walk away to make a cup of tea or tell yourself you’ll sleep on it, unsure of your own decision and desperate not to pay more than you have to.
Deciding you’re going to take any trip should be nothing but exciting I say, so here are a few golden rules to live by in order to ensure you get a good deal but also stay sane in the process.
- Where to start – Use Skyscanner
Many people will tell you they swear by a certain flight-comparison site for the formula they use or the deals they offer. All agents will take some kind of cut from the airline and this often leads to much increased prices (Expedia being one of the worst!). From personal experience and online consensus, Skyscanner is the one site that offers consistently low fares and takes into consideration the most routes. It also has a really useful interface that allows you to be incredibly broad in your searches; from allowing you to search whole months at a time or simply clicking ‘explore’ to see the prices of various countries at a time – which brings me onto the next rule…
- Be Flexible – When you can
It’s true that we don’t always have the privilege of flexibility when booking flights; work, friends and other time factors often come into play. However, the secret of cheap flights is to travel when others are not – because tickets go up with demand. Therefore, if you can widen your search date by a week, a month or even a whole year you can simply decide to fly when it’s cheapest. You can also be flexible about airports! The best flight-comparison sites will allow you to leave the ‘destination’ field blank so you can see which airports in the area are cheapest to fly to. Remember that in many parts of the world, local public transport will be extremely cheap, so it might work out better for you to fly in somewhere further from your destination and hop on a bus the rest of the way.
- Book now – Seriously
Flights rarely get cheaper the closer you get to the departure date. They will usually just go up and you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t bite the bullet last week when you were looking. Seriously, just do it.
- Be Realistic – The internet is not magic
It is true that these days you can find mind-blowing deals on flights if you’re lucky. Search engines now offer us the pick of the best offers, but it doesn’t change the fact that flying is the most expensive way to travel. If you’re flying to a different continent or the other side of the world, don’t beat yourself up if your flight is over $400. You’re going to be covering a huge distance in a short space of time in relative comfort, and you’re going to have a holiday at the end of it – that in itself is bound to cost a little more than getting the bus into town. So don’t stress out thinking you could have saved a few bucks here or there if you’d used a different airline or website. You’re about to have the trip of a lifetime so remember Rule #3 and just book it! Book it now!