On A Budget: How I Choose My Airfares

If you’ve ever tried to book a flight last minute or during peak season, you would be aware of how expensive they can get. I once saw the forty minute flight from Sydney to my home town listed as $695 – absolutely insane!

If you’re trying to travel on a budget, getting a cheap flight is the first step to success. Sometimes you’ll have to suck it up and pay more than you would want to, but there are definite ways to try and ensure you get the best possible price for your flight. Here are my top three tips to help you get the best possible deal on your airfares:

  • Use multiple tracking sites. My basic routine includes regular checks of SkyScanner, the Flight Search Matrix and Google Flights, as well as the apps Hopper and Kayak. It’s important to check all of these as prices can vary drastically between them. For example, this morning Google Flights told me that my trip to LA was on sale for $1000 RT on Delta, whereas Hopper told me the cheapest flight was $1200 RT with United, SkyScanner was telling me $1100 RT on Air New Zealand, and Kayak was going with $1100 on Air Canada! It may not seem like much, but to ensure you really are getting the best deal, check multiple sources.
  • Find the cheapest way to book. Booking directly through the airline website is usually not the cheapest way to book your  flight (there are exceptions, of course. The $1000 RT on Delta was via their website). Tracking sites will usually tell you the cheapest site to purchase your tickets, but I always make sure I check out both Student Flights and STA Travel (although I generally have more luck with STA Travel) as they have cheap deals for students and those aged under 26. Always check out codeshare airlines as well – for example, the $1000 flight on Delta can be booked on Virgin Australia planes, even though on the Virgin website the flight is listed as $600 extra. I don’t recommend going in to see a travel agent (although many disagree with me!) unless you have a complicated itinerary or need special assistance. All of the best deals and prices can (usually) be found from the comfort of your own home.
  • Know your ideal price. It’s no use waiting around for sales or prices to change if you’re not aware of what your ideal price is, or what range would make you happy. For my upcoming trip to the states, I know that ideally I want to pay as close to $1000 RT as possible, and don’t want to pay more than $1300 if possible. I currently have a lot of options in that range, so I’m waiting for days like today when a deal drops the price down to my ideal minimum. I know flying to the states in July is not going to drop below the $1000 range (flights to the USA very, very rarely drop below that point at any time in the year anyway), so I’m not going to get a better deal. Do a bit of research and see what historical prices are out there, and what the best deal will ideally be for you.

Happy travels!


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