Travel Insights

A tight-arse traveller’s best tips for finding the cheapest flights

So I suck at making decisions. Big time. Booking any flight causes me a fair amount of anxiety thinking that maybe a cheaper deal was just over the next page.

You’d think I’d be cool about it by now with the amount of travel I’ve organised. Nope. That feeling of excitement mingled with nausea remains long after I’ve hit the “Purchase” button.

Having said all that, I do have some pretty solid techniques that make me confident I’ve snatched up a good deal on my often impossibly-expensive flight routes.

planning an overseas trip

It doesn’t seem fair to keep them to myself, so here goes…

Experiment with multi city stops

When I was booking flights around Europe, I needed to find a way to get from Scandinavia to Spain. I was still pretty flexible with my itinerary, so I was looking up flights from either Oslo or Helsinki to Madrid.

I was getting pretty sick of the endless lists of potential travel days and prices with everything turning up super pricey … until I switched to the multi-city mode.

I actually couldn’t believe it when I discovered that buying flights from Oslo to Helsinki and then down to Madrid in one booking delivered cheaper results than just flying Oslo to Madrid.

Multi-city stops come in pretty handy if you’re booking multiple flights or around-the-world trips. But they’re also a fab way of breaking up those mind-numbing long haul flights. You could break up a Melbourne to LA flight with a stopover in Hawaii and actually save money.

multi city booking mode on webject

Of course, it gets more complicated if you’re choosing to stay in those cities a while – adding on extra transport costs to get to and from the city can quickly rack up the fares! (What is it with crazy expensive airport-city fares, BTW?!).

Search for the whole month

Are you totally flexible about your dates? First, count your luck. Then start looking for flights over an entire month.

You heard me. Many fare comparison websites offer some kind of functionality to let you view fares across an entire month, so you can see the cheapest travel days.

Webjet does this pretty well with its Deal Finder tool, which shows you the cheapest travel days for up to 6 months.

Skyscanner also offers you the option of selecting the whole month in its search bar, so you can then go through various options to find the cheapest return or one-way travel deals.

Go incognito

Notice how you find an awesome flight deal and bookmark it, only to find that the price has suddenly jumped up when you return to the page? Yeh, it sucks.

But a lot of the time, that’s got very little to do with the actual plane prices and more to do with these websites just fucking with you. Seriously. The more interest you pay to a certain flight, the higher the price gets. All just so you freak out and book before you change your mind.

So to one up the big man, convert your browser to the incognito mode. In Chrome, you just click on the three buttons in the upper right corner and select “New incognito window”.

incognito mode

It’s the freaking easiest thing you can do to find the cheapest flights so don’t be lazy. Incognito basically annihilates your identity and resets your cookies so you’re starting your search from scratch.

Be smart about travel times

Think about it. People are more likely to travel during holiday season (Easter, Christmas, school holidays). Then you got the business types swanning off for week-long work trips.

Off peak times and mid week flights are generally much cheaper than your Friday, Sunday or Monday fares.

And if you can handle your red-eye flights (*shudder*), they’re almost invariably your cheapest option.

Get those points!

Pretty much every airline out there is part of some kinda frequent flyer program. Several have paired together to create a sort of ultra-cool mega-group (One World Alliance – hells yes).

Whenever you book a flight, check which frequent flyer program you can get points for. Build up enough and you can get yourself not just a cheap flight, but a free one. Woop woop!

But hey, don’t just stop there. Get extra cheeky and make sure you’re booking all your big-ticket items with a credit card linked to your preferred FF program. Double points 😉

Sign up for I Know the Pilot emails

This one is exclusively for my Aussie buddies (hurrah!). If you haven’t yet discovered I Know the Pilot, get on it.

These guys constantly sweep the internet for some of the best flight deals out there. Sign up for their emails or follow them on good ol’ Facey and they’ll alert you when an airline has a sale on. They’ll also update you on the latest best deals for a range of popular destinations from Australia.

Search for 2 one-ways

It almost always seems to be cheaper to book return tickets, which really gets my goat (what does that even mean?!?!) because I almost always have to book one way flights.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I end up arriving and leaving from the same airport. Yet I still often shop online for one way flights to and from that destination. Why? Because it doesn’t lock me into the one airline.

Mixing and matching my airlines often means I can snap up a cheaper one-way deal with one airline and reduce my overall costs for a return journey.

Book a Package

Sometimes, you’ll actually get some awesome bargains if you book a holiday package. On these occasions, you can often bundle together accommodation, flights and transfers for a discounted deal.

Cheap holiday packages are pretty easy to find – the easiest way is to search comparison websites or sign up to emails to receive alerts when there’s a great new deal going around!

Pay attention to those damned fees

OK, so it happens a lot that I find an awesome deal for a budget airline and go to book it, only to discover that the price goes up by as much as $100 or even more just for the add-ons.

I’m a cheapskate, so I tend to travel sans check-in luggage, meals, or entertainment. But if it’s an overnight flight, I’ve gotta get me a window seat or I can write off any idea of sleeping (who am I kidding, sleep will be elusive anyway, but then at least I have pretty views to watch).

But do the sums. If you need your TV hit, a 20kg bag of bathers and books to check in, or some meals to stave off the hangriness, you’re probably looking at a tonne more money. Are you sure that premium airline doesn’t offer better value after all??

Compare, compare, compare

Calm down, I’m not suggesting you go as psycho-bargain hunting as I do. But it definitely pays to compare fares across a number of websites, including (among others):

  • Skyscanner
  • Webjet
  • Expedia
  • Lastminute.com
  • booking.com

Once I have a better idea of the airlines operating in the region I’m looking at, I often go directly to their websites to see how their fares match up.

Love these tips or got some more handy hacks of your own? Pretty please share them with us all in the Comments section down yonder. And if you’re looking for some more travel hacks, advice, tips, or more, check out my Travel Insights or sign up to receive emails from ARoamerTherapy today!

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It’s gotta be said: There aren’t too many ways that a blog like this can keep a gal like me running, but sponsored posts is one of them. Please be advised, this is a sponsored post from Webjet, but all opinions are my own and I recommend nothing I don’t use myself!

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