Anyone can book a flight and hotel but not everyone knows how to save big while doing it. As an avid traveler I’ve figured out a lot of hacks along the way – here’s how I’ve been tricking the system and saving money when booking my vacations. Cut costs and travel like a winner!
Who doesn’t want to explore what the world has to offer, take a chilled break and maybe even step out of your comfort zone? Embracing our travel desires is in our genes – at least that’s how I feel. Curiosity is something that makes us more human, after all, it was our ancestors that colonized the world as they branched out from Africa – and on foot! Once you have that passion to explore, one look at your bank account can make it all come crashing down. But there are many clever ways to make traveling affordable and cheaper, making your dreams a reality – it all comes down to the way in which you book your trip.
So how do you go about getting the best possible price when booking a flight or hotel? As an experienced (and slightly keen) traveler, who constantly has her eye on her next trip, I’ll let you in on a few of my best-kept secrets that allows me to book cheaper travel deals and fund my passion.
1. Use Search Engines
No, I’m not talking about the obvious Google but more specifically a mix of flight engines to scour the best deals and let the engines do the hard work, comparing flight prices for you. You can try Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Adioso (to name a few). Once you’ve found a good deal you can either book it there and then, or what I sometimes find useful is going directly to the airline’s website to see if you can get a better deal there. But if you really want to save big bucks, there are a few other things you’ll need to do.
2. Clear Your Cache
Airlines are pretty sneaky and are known to track your browsing behavior via cookies. This basically means they’ll snoop around your browsing actions on their site and maybe even your past searches. If you search for flights to Rome on Sunday on Expedia, for example, and then come back at a later date, say Thursday, Expedia now knows you are highly interested in flights to Rome, and so this time upon return, will up the price for your flight on their site. Now that’s cheeky.
How do you get around this you ask? You can save a wad of cash at the touch of a button – clear your cache, it’s that simple! Clearing your cache and disabling cookies will mean that the company can no longer track your actions, so you can load a page without the fear of prices jumping up each time you come back to it. Or you could take it one step further and enable private browsing, which leads us to…
3. Use a VPN to Hide Your Location
Did you know that the very same flight can be priced differently depending on what country or specific area you are browsing from? Sites often state higher prices to more affluent areas as they know that these areas won’t be as bothered by higher fees. This is why you must use a VPN! A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that can be used to spoof your location, helping you find the best possible price. This golden hack is one of my personal favorites, often saving me the most money not only on flights and hotels, but shopping online in general. I personally use Nord VPN to change my location to other areas and sometimes even other countries, to avoid the area bias and find the best deal possible.
Below is just an example of how prices can fluctuate depending on which server location you use. I used SkyScanner to try and book a flight for March 2018, from New York to London Heathrow. First I tried selecting two different servers from within the US and as you can see there are differences between the same dates!
For example, the leaving flight on the 1st March is £13 ($18) cheaper in the first server option, and if you were to return on the 11th March, for example, you’d be saving £46 ($64) by booking on the first server option – meaning in total you’d be saving $82 total on this round trip. Don’t forget, there are many servers to choose from, this is just an example of two random US servers! Meaning with a bit of hunting, you could easily save even more!
Comparing two different US servers:
You could also try selecting other countries and play about with the servers to try and find further discounts. Here is just an example of two other country server selections for the very same flights.
Flight prices when searching from Turkey and Indonesia:
4. Set up Flight Alerts
If you have your heart set on a certain location and know exactly where you want to go and around when, today – may not be the best time to buy. The age-old trick of booking far in advance isn’t always the best way to go about things. You can download apps such as Hopper or use Google Flights to double check the price, and if it seems unreasonably high, simply set a fare alert and that way you can keep an eye on the price as it changes. Other websites such as Airfarewatchdog are great when on the hunt for cheap deals, and will alert you when a price drops.
When you do find the price range you are happy with, be sure to book on a Tuesday or Wednesday. It may sound strange, but these are the days when flight prices are typically lower. Mondays see airline officials checking how seats sold over the weekend. Tuesdays are when they compare themselves to other competitors and adjust their fares providing a time with the most competitive prices. Prices tend to rise around Friday before the weekend making between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday the best time to book away.
5. Subscribe to Airline Emails
This one’s a no-brainer – the more intel you have, the better! Airlines often send out flash sale emails to grab your attention, so you can snatch up good deals, especially those last minute ones for the spontaneous trip goers among you. Following your favorite airlines on social media can also prove worthwhile, providing you a means of staying in the loop so that you never miss a good deal when they pop-up.
Think Smarter Not Harder!
And there you have it. My top five tips guaranteed to help you save at least $100 – so you can have more spending money on your trip! I’ve tried and tested all of these methods, and found it’s usually best to mix a few – that way, you’ll be sure to get the best deal out there.
Happy (cheap) travels!