Hey guys. I hope you are all having a great summer! This is a post I’ve been asked to do even before I started this blog. Those of you that know me will know about my passion for travelling. I’ve travelled to almost 20 countries, most of which have been multiple times. I’ve taken solo trips, couple getaways and group holidays. I wanted to dispell the myth that frequent holidays have to break the bank so I’m super excited to share some of my tips and tricks for booking great holidays at a low cost. Part one will cover flights and the booking process. I will cover accommodation, spending money, excursions, freebies and money management in later posts. Finally I will also be documenting some of my recent travels, a cost breakdown and the best things to do! I hope this helps and feel free to ask me any questions on twitter or in the comments section.
One: Skyscanner.net and Google Compare. Through my experience, I have found these two sites (especially skyscanner) to be the best for initially searching prices. They update immediately and take into account most airlines; offering you the best possible prices. My suggestion would be to search flights through http://www.skyscanner.net and then open the airline’s website independently. Its easy and simple lay out also makes the search process smooth and stress free. They also give you multi-airport options and show you direct and stop over options!
Two: Do NOT keep searching flights over and over again! Flight prices operate on supply and demand. Airlines have a set number of seats and the more people that present their interest in that flight, the higher that price will go. All sites log this interest through cookies and caches so if five of your friends all search the same flight, you are literally shooting yourselves in your big toe with a nine as you will rocket the flight price. This is because it appears that many people may want that flight’s seat. Prices are unlikely to drop so trust that the price you see is the lowest it may go. Screen shot it to avoid constant searching. You can also search on private browsing although I’m not 100% that this prevents logging a visit. Finally, nominate one person to search for flights if you are travelling as a group.
Three: Be flexible. Being flexible in both destination and date will allow you the best holiday price possible. If you have your heart set on a particular date, then by all means, book that specific date. Keep in mind however, that willingness to travel up to three days either side of your inbound or outbound could drop your flight price significantly. Toggle around with alternative lengths too as it may work our cheaper overall to stay for an extra day. (For example, it was cheaper for me to stay for 7 days as opposed to 4 days in Morocco including accommodation!) Moreover, if like I, you are full of wanderlust and don’t mind where you travel; this flexibility will save you tons of money. Type ‘everywhere’ into destination in skyscanner and it will show you the lowest prices for all destinations. A return flight to Germany for £18 is fantastic and allows you more money to up the luxury level on your accommodation!
Four: Book early, prices rarely drop. There is a myth that prices drop closer to the time of departure to get rid of unsold seats. This is very untrue and can cost you hundreds. Book as early as possible. For long haul flights, book five months in advance minimum. For example, flights to Miami for 2016 Memorial Day Weekend from London are around £450 at the moment and this is unlikely to go lower. Waiting till February will see you pay £800-900 plus.
Five: Check small travel agents for last minute flights. In the event that you have to fly out last minute, check small travel agents who often book seats months in advance. Sometimes they may offer a package that works out cheaper than any current flight price. You can try to negotiate a price without the accommodation or just simply not stay in the accommodation.
Six: Consider booking in another currency. If your bank offers a low currency commission rate, it can pay off to check the cost in another currency as it can often work out significantly cheaper. Simply change the currency in options when you click on the airline’s website.
\Seven: Look beyond surface price. The lowest isn’t always the cheapest. A little bit of an oxymoron but quite simply, the lowest price may not be final. Take into consideration airlines like Ryan Air who add VAT last and low cost airlines who charge a lot for baggage. KLM for example, on the surface are pricier than Easy Jet to fly to the Netherlands but if you join their free frequent flyer club, your baggage is free, overall trumping the easy jet price should you require hand luggage. You should also take into account how much baggage you need. For example, some low cost airlines allow an extra carry on bag whilst others are very strict on hand luggage weight. Checking this before can save you tons later.
Eight: Take into account travel cost to airport, location and time. Low cost airports like Stanstead and Luton can be a pain to get to, especially when some airlines only fly from these locations. Keep in mind that it can cost around £15-£30 to travel return to the airport if you are in the U.K. It may be cheaper to drive if you own a car as you can park for as cheap as £3 a day. Keep an eye on Wowcher and Groupon who offer discounted airport parking regularly. For example, I paid £1 to save 40%. If you are flying to Gatwick, the Gatwick express works out cheaper than the standard rail if you are in a group as you are eligible for a large discount. Furthermore, if there is a slight difference in price between different airports or day time flights, choosing the easiest route and easiest flight time will save you money. For me, flying from Heathrow during the day works out cheaper as I can hop on the tube and get there and back for £6, rather than Gatwick which would cost me £40 overall or Stanstead at 6am which would mean a definite drive. Finally, on the subject of flight time, when booking, you should also know that days such as Sundays tend to cost more as they are favoured for return from full time workers. Annoyingly too, midday flights often cost more as they are more in demand and some airlines like Ryan Air or Easy Jet fly at set times such as 7 am. (It also doesn’t hurt to just ask someone to drop you to the airport!) I hope these help you with the booking process of the holiday. In my next post I will cover the other areas of a great holiday and add any further tips I think of on the flight process. If you have any questions or even if you want my direct help or advice on holiday booking, you can tweet me @monrowe or comment below if you don’t have twitter and I will happily assist. Happy flying! Monique Monrowe.