You’ve decided where you want to go, or maybe just the dates you want to travel – the first thing you look for is the flights to get you there. Here are a collection of my top tips and sites to get the most out of your holiday budget.
1. Be Flexible
If you want to get the best deal available, you have to allow yourself to be flexible. For every flight, tickets begin at a “base rate” and then increase at regular intervals calculated by the number of tickets sold and the remaining availability.
By changing the time or day you choose to fly, there is the potential to make considerable savings. A flight attendant once told me that statistically Tuesday is the least popular day of the week to fly, which more often than not also makes it the cheapest!
2. Dates but no destination?
You’ve booked the time off work and want to know where you’re best enjoying your well deserved break. Time to load up SkyScanner.
Add your departure airport, and then be creative with your To destination. You can be as flexible as “Everywhere” or alternatively select a country of interest, say “Germany” or “Italy”. There is even an option for direct flights only.
3. Destination but no dates?
If you know where you want to go, but don’t know when – first do a little research. Would your holiday be ruined it if was cold? Or it was raining? Weather is a huge factor – use annual forecasts, sunshine hours and rainfall to choose when you would be happy to travel.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few months, it’s time to head back over to SkyScanner this time to use the diary function.
Choose your departure and arrival airports / cities, for the dates choose the month of interest. Alternatively you can opt for “Cheapest Month” if you are really feeling flexible!
4. Making the most of Weekend Away
When you have narrowed it down to a few weeks, and you want to make the most out of a weekend break. It is time to switch sites and utilise Holiday Pirates’ Flight Comparison Tool.
Choose the “Show Flexible Dates” function under the search bar, and select Weekends from the menu. You can be specific here such as fly Saturday AM – return Monday PM or allow the system to assume a Friday-Monday weekend.
Although the system allows you to search up-to 12 months ahead, it is unlikely that all airlines have released flights yet for their short-hauls. This is well suited for ~ 5 months ahead or less.
5. Learn to Live on Hand Luggage
You’ve found yourself a great deal – an absolute bargain getaway; but then you add on a checked case. Some airlines are charging £35 each way just for a bag. It would be cheaper to buy your case it’s own seat (not allowed unfortunately!).
Make the most of your hand-luggage to avoid the ridiculous costs. Each traveller can take a clear bag of liquids, which is likely to include make-up etc. But do you really need to take your full size shower gel and shampoo? Do you even need to take it at all? You could most likely buy another at your destination for cheaper.
Different airlines have different sizing allowances for their hand-luggage (RyanAir is typically the smallest – with 55cm x 40xm x 20cm). Remember each bag has a weight restriction of 10kg. If you purchase a suitable bag for the strictest provider you can’t go wrong.
If you do plan to travel using hand-luggage only semi-regularly with RyanAir, it may be worth while purchasing an official bag. These bags are 100% guaranteed by RyanAir to be accepted (within the weight limits) onto ANY of their flights.
- Pack for the weather. Avoid wasting space on outfits you will not wear by checking the weather before you leave.
- Choose multi-functional and complimentary outfits. This will allow you to mix and match easily.
- Get rolling! Living out of a backpack for a month taught me that rolling light-weight materials can be a great space saver. YouTube if filled with packing tips to try.
- Ditch the non-essentials. Do you really need to pack three moisturisers and your hair straighteners?
6. Upgrade using Air Miles
Buying a flight with Air Miles may take years to accrue, but you are likely to get a better deal for your efforts by purchasing a flight and using your Air Miles for a “free” upgrade.
7. Set up a Flight Release Alert
E-mail shots for the announcement of flights are issued several hours after they become available, meaning you could be £100+ worse off just for being ill-informed – especially in peak season.
If you know exactly when and where you want to travel, and the airline to take you – I whole heartily recommend using a Flight Alert. Those few hours can save you a small fortune and you can rest easy knowing you got the best deal for exactly what you wanted.