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This is the number one question I get asked by family, friends, colleagues and friends online. I take a lot of weekend flights which traditionally are quite expensive so people always ask how I can afford to travel so much and keep those flight costs down.
Flights are always my biggest expenditure on a trip but I still like to keep the cost of them as low as possible, especially as I often go to places in Europe for a weekend and there's no way I'm spending £200 on a flight for two days in a place. I got to Florida in January 2019 for less than that for crying out loud (£165).
So, here are my top tips and tricks I used for booking all my flights:
Booking early is often beneficial but not always a guarantee of cheaper so don't assume you're out of luck for last minute trips. A study by Kayak found that booking for summer destinations in Europe should be booked 7 months in advance, whereas the same places in autumn or winter are cheaper only 2 months in advance. International flights from the UK to well-travelled places such as New York or Dubai are often cheaper 4 months out as opposed to 7 months.
Leading on from the point above - I always aim to travel in the off-season, during shoulder season or at antisocial times of the day. Off-season or even shoulder season will ALWAYS be cheaper than travelling to a place in peak season. Yes it might be risky with the weather but I bagged £65 return flights to the Algarve the first week of June last year (2018), in July or August those flights are usually north of £200. I also got £33 return flights to Stockholm because I flew at 5am on a Saturday morning and returned at 10pm Sunday night. Yes you'll be exhausted, yes no one likes getting up at 1am to go to the airport but if I'd have travelled on the Friday night rather than the Saturday morning, the price was £100 more and I'd have been paying for an extra night of accommodation too, so really you’re saving on all fronts!
Sign up to airline newsletters or apps so you get their notifications - in Europe the Ryanair app and the Wizzair app are very good for user offers and notifying you of any sales.
Use Google Flights price tracker. I don’t know why people don’t use Google’s native flight comparison tool, Google Flights is my NUMBER 1 go-to for flights. It checks prices across the internet and puts them in one place, you can save and track the price of any number of flights or flight routes, they're all saved on your Google account and I get daily notifications of price changes. Google flights also shows you the prices for travelling on different days around when you're travelling so this is great if you've got some flexibility.
5. If you’ve got time and don't mind stopovers Monmondo and Skyscanner are great for cheap alternatives which aren't direct. Or to build long trips with multiple stops Kiwi has an awesome Nomad feature to help you build the cheapest route for your trip.
6. Use the Google flights explore option if you know your dates but don't mind where you go, use the explore mode on desktop version and drag the map around to see the price of flights to various places on your selected dates.
7. Use private browsing/incognito mode. This stops sites knowing you are repeatedly looking at the same flight and therefore reduces the risk of the price going up. (This also applies to searching for trains and buses).
8. Don't buy the extras!! I always travel carry-on unless I get a free checked bag included in my ticket, so I never pay to check a bag, I never buy the meal option unless my flight is over 7 hours, I never pay to select my seat. You’ll be amazed how much this can save you.
9. Sign up to free newsletters like Jack's Flight Club which finds amazing flight offers, error fares and great sale deals for flights from the UK to anywhere in the world. The US equivalent is called Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Do you have any tips or tricks you like to use to find the best flight deals?
Flights: I use Expedia to find great flights and the best deals all over the world, they have regular sales and offers so I always check their website. I also check CheapOair to find cheap deals on round trip flights.
Car Rental: I love the customer service I've always gotten and the variety of options with Rental Cars. But for short notice rentals, I've been using Expedia for the last year, they always seem to have great one-day rates or last-minute rates from the main rental companies.
Accommodation: I prefer the flexibility of booking accommodation with Booking.com so I can cancel or change my reservation without a fee or only pay on arrival for most properties. For longer or more unique stays I prefer AirBnB because you can get the long stay discount, you can also find more unique properties and book experiences with talented locals and businesses. For my budget trips, I always stay in hostels and book through Hostelworld because they have great guarantees if anything does go wrong. If you arrive and your booking is not at the property, they refund the full deposit AND give you $50 extra credit.
Tours and organised trips Although I don’t use tours that often, I do like to book local experiences or day trips once I reach my destination. For that I use GetYourGuide because it has the biggest selection and variety of tour and experience options.
Travel Insurance: For all my longer trips and for the entire year I’ve spent in Australia, my partner and I have always used World Nomads. They cover everything I need and I can buy coverage for a year at a time, they also allow you to purchase cover when you’re already outside your home country. Plus my camera gear and equipment is covered and they also have special cover for when I’m scuba diving too.
My camera gear and equipment: I use a Canon 77D with an 18-135mm lens or a 50mm lens. And a DJI Mavic Mini Drone. For all my gear including laptops, tripods and more camera accessories read my travel photography gear guide.