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HOW TO BOOK FLIGHTS CHEAPLY AND GET BETTER TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

Sometimes booking a flight can be daunting. Longer haul flights are particularly expensive, so for most people it is fairly important to get a good deal, less the headache.

Booking flights for your adventure is going to be an extremely thrilling and exciting time in and of itself. But there are so many different sites, airlines and ways to book, that it’s important to have a go-to process which you can start off from. You can expand on your original search, once you get into the swing of things.
 
This guide is designed to help you get the most for your money, and help you have better travel experiences.
I plan to be as thorough as possible, as finding cheap flights is the number one thing I regularly get asked for help on.

So let’s get started.
 
Firstly, the flight search engine that I almost always use, and start my search with, is SkyscannerI honestly can’t recommend this site enough. So-

'How does Skyscanner work and how can I make the most of this site?'
 
Skyscanner compares flights from major airlines, budget airlines, and deals listed on sites like Expedia, all at once to give you the lowest possible price available (including taxes).
Skyscanner is very user-friendly and the search and booking process is smooth. But -

'Lots of sites do this, how is Skyscanner different?'
 
Well, it’s different for a number of reasons. For example, you can search for flights within a whole month or even the whole year. My favorite feature is that you can create a search to anywhere. This ‘everywhere’ feature allows you to find the cheapest flight to ‘anywhere’ from your city of departure. This opens up the door for new and unusual travel experiences.
 
Below, I am going to take you through a step-by-step guide on how I search for flights using Skyscanner.
 
How to search with Skyscanner
Firstly, before you even open up Skyscanner, hit Ctrl+Shift+N to open up a new incognito window. Many ‘flight’ search engines, will slowly increase the prices it lists in attempt to get you to panic buy. It uses your browsing data history to do this and it usually succeeds in getting you to book. I bet everyone has thought this at least once -
 
'The fares I saw yesterday are no longer there today and the price has gone up by $50! I better hurry up and book!'
 
Don’t worry, it’s probably still there, you just were searching out of incognito mode, or you didn't clear your browsing data history (Which you can clear in your browser settings, under privacy). Once you have gone incognito your browser should look like this: 

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Next, you need to open up Skyscanner on a new tab. Once Skyscanner is open on your browser, you should see a page that looks like the image below.

In this example, I will be making my departure city Tel Aviv in Israel.
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You will notice that the tab, on skyscanner, is opened on flights. On the right-hand sidebar, there is a list of cheap flights and deals currently available from Tel Aviv. The currency is set to Canadian dollars, and I can change this later if I want to.
 
I never search [roundtrip] first, I always start my search [oneway]; just to leave it a little open-ended. For example, if I want to add another destination to my journey, I am not locked into leaving from a specific place. It also allows me to potentially self-plan an alternative route. This flexibility leaves me the option to see if I should depart/arrive or go to and from a different city/country etc, than I had originally planned. The reason I do this is to see if I can get a cheaper overall fare. Or for the same price, opens up an opportunity to see more places during my travels.
 
Now, for the most part, I like to book flights using my destinations currency, as sometimes fares will work out cheaper in a different currency. But for now, I will be searching for flights using my current currency CND and we can change that later should we need to.
 
Lastly, a neat feature Skyscanner has is a [cheap flights] menu on the sidebar. It lists the cheapest prices from you departure city to a range of different destinations. When you select one of the deals, it will indicate when and how long that deal/fare is valid for. You could get lucky and have those deals land on similar dates as the ones you were planning.
 
So in my example, I have made my departure city Tel Aviv, Israel. I want to go visit family in the United Kingdom, sometime during November. In my search criteria, I set my departure city as Tel Aviv and my arrival city as London. I have checked off one way and I have made my departure date set for the whole month of November. It looks just like below:
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I hit [search], and the cheapest flight I can find has a stop-over in Ukraine and costs $219.00. I’ll be honest; I was looking for something a little cheaper. So I am going to allow myself a little bit of flexibility. Instead of searching from Tel Aviv to London, I am going to change my destination city to [Everywhere]. I hit search, and the cheapest flight to Europe is $54 from Tel-Aviv to Bucharest in Romania.
 
  • Now this is a very important tip. Flights throughout Europe are very cheap. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they should only go straight to their destination (and this doesn’t just apply to Europe either, it applies to everywhere). Searching outside of the usual parameters will help you find cheaper flights. So for this example, as long as I can get to Europe, I will almost definitely be able to find a cheap flight, from my alternative route, to my planned destination.
 
So once again I open my Skyscanner search, but this time, I entered my departure country as Romania and searched to [Everywhere]. Turns out you can fly from Bucharest in Romania to London for $65. My flight now decreased from $219 to $119. I just saved $100 on my flight.
 
However, if I need to return to Tel Aviv I will begin another search. I now want to see if it is cheaper to return via Romania, by buying 2 one-way tickets, or if Tel Aviv/London return would work out cheaper.
Let’s find out-
 
The cheapest price from Tel-Aviv to London return was $452. That’s pretty expensive, so let’s try to find the cheapest possible return route. We already have a cost for our flights to London and now we want to get back to Tel Aviv just as cheaply.
 
So I start a new search, this time from London to [Everywhere]. The cheapest flight is, once again, from London to Bucharest in Romania for $33. I have checked the dates and times of those flights and they work out well with my overall itinerary.
 
​ Now I need to search for a flight from Bucharest, Romania to Tel Aviv, Israel - and the result returned a fare for $64. 
So my return flight from London has only cost me $97. So if this was going to be a return trip, I would only pay $216 instead of $452 (inc. tax)That is a savings of $236, which is pretty sweet if you ask me. You can even get the price down cheaper by departing and returning to different cities in Romania. I only decided on Bucharest here, as it was the place I was most familiar with.
Bare in mind, using this method, you will need to ensure you can negotiate times/dates whilst at the airport.
But if you are like me, I would be thinking - 

'I wonder what I can do for a few days in Romania? I can use the $236 I saved on flights to have a mini holiday here!'
 
My husband and I have always been the kind of people that are up for new and interesting adventures, and Romania, isn’t the kind of place we would normally consider adventuring too. Researching about a particular country you hadn't planned on visiting, is always so enlightening and exciting. 
 
This is exactly the kind of opportunity I mean; when I say - 

how to book cheaper flights and get better travel experiences.
 
 

Other things you should consider when booking your flight or flights: 
 
Now that I have covered one of the best ways to secure a cheaper flight, I am going to list some other things that could come in handy, whilst looking to secure a deal. 
 
  • There are a lot of airlines out there, and you should keep an eye out for new ones. In 2014 we took a flight from LA to Copenhagen with Norwegian Air for $150 NZ. It was one of the best flights we had ever been on. Who couldn’t be comfortable in the new Dreamliner jets? Newer airlines need your business, and to get it, they reduce their fares.
 
  • When in Asia, look up flights from budget airlines, in the native language, and use Google translate (rather than the sites translation), to read through their fares. Also, make sure you search using domestic currency from where the airline is based. When we booked a flight with Vietjet Air from Da Nang to Hanoi, the price of the flight listed in Vietnamese was almost half the price of the fare listed in English. I am sure this applies to a lot of different budget airlines across the world, so keep this in mind.
 
  • Don’t check in baggage, if you can avoid it. Most of the cheaper flights, other than long-haul, are not going to have checked-baggage included and you pay dearly to have it. For example, with AirAsia, if your flight costs $100, the price to check a 20kg bag is half the price of the total airfare ($50). If you want to learn more about this check out my blog post [How to pack lightly..] under travel tips and advice.
 
  • Following on from 3, make sure you deselect all the extras that budget airlines will add-on automatically during the booking process – like baggage, meals, insurance etc.
 
  • Research budget airlines that might not be listed on flight search engines, especially in the country/countries you will be travelling through.
  
  • It is important to have in mind that some budget airlines, like RyanAir, will usually only fly to smaller airports. These budget airports can sometimes be 1hr or more away from the city. Be airport aware, and find out how much it will cost to get into the city, via public transport. I have rarely had a problem with this as it is usually very cheap, but it is still important to plan ahead. 
 
  • There are also some unique flight passes you can get from certain Airlines, that allow you stop and stay in multiple countries. When travelling through south-east Asia, my husband and I used the AirAsia ASEAN pass (10 flights for $160 CAD). For more information about ASEAN pass, check out my blog.
 
  • Sometimes the place you want to visit; is expensive to get to via air. The cheapest way to get to these countries (usually the ones with high airport taxes etc) is to fly cheaply to a nearby country or city and catch an overnight bus. When my husband and I wanted to get to Belize, the flight cost around $700 return from Toronto. But to Cozumel in Mexico, the flight was only $200 return. So we caught the bus down to Belize from the airport in Cozumel. The bus cost us $15 each, one-way. Doing it this way, we were able to get to the place we wanted to go, for $230 return, which saved us $470.
 
  • I hate credit cards, but they do give you air miles if you sign up for the right ones. For those of you in Canada and the US, where the credit system is important (and you would do this anyway), it becomes a great way for you to earn miles.

  • Sign up for an airline's rewards or membership program. 
 
  • Local fare scouts are small companies specialising in finding low ticket prices from near-by/local airports, they advertise fare airlines are keeping on the down low and fare mistakes (which causes the flight to be at a price it shouldn’t be). Keep a look-out for these types of business near your major airport.
 
  • Airfare Watchdog is a website, that will send you an email notification when ticket prices have dropped or fares go on sale. It's pretty handy to have a constant stream of deals arriving in your inbox if you travel regularly.
 
This is as far as I can take you here, and I will go into more detail on some of these things later on, as they do deserve their own post. But this will help you get started at least.
 
Happy Adventures!