Something I often get asked at work is how I can afford to go away so often. The answer is that I am forever searching for the best deals and cheap flights. Here are my top tips for saving money and travelling on a budget. Spend less on the flights so you can spend more at the bar!
1. Shop around
Flight and hotel prices vary so much depending on which website you use to book them. A great way to minimise the time and effort of searching is to use a price comparison engine. My go-tos are Skyscanner for flights and Booking.com for accommodation. They both offer a great range of search functions and filters to help you find the best deals.
2. Be flexible
Flexibility is key to finding the cheap flights. If you know which dates you would like to go away, keep an open mind about destination. Keeping the destination box empty when you search will tell you all the cheapest places to go on those dates. There are some unbelievable bargains - I once booked a return flight to Germany for £3! This trick really does work and is great if you are limited on when you can fly, such as within the school holidays. You will often find great places which you may not have thought of visiting.
If you already have already decided on a destination, being flexible on dates can make a huge difference. Even flying a day earlier or later can dramatically alter the price. Using Skyscanner’s month view can give an overview of the cheapest days to fly, so you can find the best deals.
3. Keep an eye on flight prices
Flight prices are not static, they fluctuate often and the prices do go down as well as up. As a general rule, the earlier you book, the cheaper the flights will be. However, this is not always the case. AirHint offer a confidence tool which analyses the algorithms of each airline and works out the probability of your flight prices decreasing/increasing and helps you to judge whether to buy now or wait a little longer. This can be a gamble, but I have made some huge savings with this method, just by waiting a few days.
4. Get Rewarded
Many websites offer schemes which reward loyalty. I regularly use booking.com, and have received all kinds of rewards, for money off stays to free drinks and early checkin/ late checkout. Lots of websites also email various discount offers from time to time. It definitely pays to shop around, so join a few schemes and you will have more options.
5. Go off the beaten track
One of the best ways I have found to save money while travelling is to avoid the tourist traps. The most well-known restaurant won’t necessarily offer the best food and it is unlikely to be the cheapest. Do your research, try to find out where the locals go and check out reviews, menus, prices before you go. Taking a walking tour with a local guide is a great way to get some insider knowledge and have a cheaper, more authentic experience.