Travel Advice: 7 Tips for Buying Cheap Plane Tickets

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People have been asking me for travel planning advice and I figured it would be easier to write it down here.

Thus, I decided to create a new category in my blog for all sorts of travel advice – from transportation and ethical travelling to cheap accommodation and packing tips. This is the first advice post of many – one about booking plane tickets. Last year alone I bought 30 plane tickets so I have had my fare share of experience. Contrary to what many people think, I am not super loaded, so I am always looking out for best deals and many times choose my destination based on the budget not vice versa. And believe it or not, I have bought tickets for as little as 15€. It can sometimes be cheaper to fly to another country than to take a bus inside your own country.

Here are my top 7 tips:

1. GO ‘UNDERGROUND’ WHEN SEARCHING FOR PLANE TICKETS

I have seen it happen myself. I have googled some location so many times and finally been ready to buy them, only to find out that the ticket prices have gone up and I cannot afford it anymore. Sometimes it’s chance but sometimes it’s because they do it on purpose. The cookies leave a trace and the site tries to scare you into buying the more expensive tickets. It’s better to buy tickets using the incognito browsing mode to see the lowest prices.

On Safari and Google Chrome just press Command + Shift + “N” on Macbooks or Control + Shift + “N” on other computers. When you use Firefox then hit Command + Shift + “P” on Macbooks or Control + Shift + “P” on other types of computers. And there you have it! You’ve removed the possibility that your previous searches have inflated the flight prices.

2. USE SPECIAL WEBSITES TO SEARCH FOR TICKETS

There are many of these sites such as Momondo or Drungli but my favourite is definitely Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, the design is fresh and easily understandable and I like the search system well. It allows to both search for a specific place and time OR to search all places in the world by choosing “Everywhere”. The latter is good when you are not sure about your destination yet and you are rather flexible regarding the flight dates. Many times I have planned by trip based on the cheap tickets I have found on Skyscanner. I usually like to click on “Whole month” so I can choose the cheapest destination and dates in the month I want to go.

3. PURCHASE FROM AIRLINE’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE

When you’ve found the best dates and airline that you will be flying with then simply go to the airline’s website to buy the tickets. If you buy them through some other sites you risk of paying for extra charges and I generally also feel that it’s safer to buy it directly from the airline. Why should you use Skyscanner or other stuff at all then? Because it’s much easier. You couldn’t possibly want to sort through all the airline websites to find the cheapest tickets. Locate cheap tickets AND THEN go to airline’s website to buy them.

4. FOLLOW TRAVEL SITES THAT POST ABOUT EXCEPTIONAL AND/OR ERROR FARES 

Sometimes you don’t have time to do all the work yourself so simply follow some cool pages that do the work for you. One of the best ones for travel deals is Holidaypirates (for flights from the UK) or Voyages Pirates for flights from France and Belgium. The best site for Estonians is Reisidiilid, however sometimes it’s actually cheaper to buy a deal from London and simply buy transfer to and from London.

Sometimes airlines accidentally publish error fares that can be ridiculously low. To find deals like this a good site is Airfare Watchdog that also lets you set up alerts so you would not miss any of the good deals.

5. TRY TO NOT PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE AND RETURN FOR THE WEEKEND

When you have relatively flexible vacation time, try to plan your trip so you could depart and return on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. That’s when the prices are generally the cheapest. For obvious reasons, Fridays and Sundays are the worst. Even if you can’t do it for both arrival and return, try to do it on one of the days and you’ll already save lots.

6. BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK

There have been some studies on it and it turns out that Tuesday evenings (for Europeans) are the best time to buy airline tickets because many companies release their leftover tickets back into the system around that time. However, there are so many different factors that determine a ticket price so it’s not always 100% efficient. When it comes to the question of how much in advance should you buy the ticket, then for international flights it’s generally cheapest 5 months in advance and for European flights 2 months in advance. Of course there are exceptions and I’m painting it here with a broad brush, but buying tickets both too early in advance and really last minute can drastically change the prices.

7. DON’T WAIT FOR THE PRICE TO DROP

Airline tickets get rarely cheaper. It can happen, but you can’t count on it. Especially when you need to buy on a specific date. So when you see a good price, take it and don’t wait because often you end up buying more than you would have initially. I have had to change my destination country multiple because I waited for the ticket prices to go down and instead they kept going up. Learn from my mistakes.

I hope these helped!

K.

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