So… you want to fly somewhere on a budget… Even if you don’t, keep reading. You’ll learn things in this article that your travel concierge doesn’t know to do.
Research is imperative. The more research you do, the cheaper you can travel and the more you can get out of your travel.
First, you’ll need to pick a destination. To pick my destination, I like Google.com/flights.
It allows you to plug in your departure city and desired dates of travel. Once plugged in, a world map becomes covered in small red markers, city names and flight prices that you can travel to from your selected departure city. Clicking on one of the destinations, you’re provided a graph of flight prices for days before and after your selected date, allowing you strategize which day would be cheapest for you to leave.
Once you choose your flights, you’ll be able to book the flight through the list of travels sites, with your selected itinerary already plugged in, check it over and pay.
Also, look up discount airlines in the region you’ll be traveling to. For instance: Air Asia is incredibly cheap and it doesn’t show up on Google flights. Air Asia, Ryan, Tiger and Dragon airways are some good examples of reliable discount carriers. I’m sure there are more out there, these are just a few.
NOTE: If you find an airline that is local to a country or one you have not heard about, for safety purposes be sure to do some research on them too.
Another factor to consider; and this is one that could save you hundreds of dollars, is what airport to fly through or out of. For instance, If you want to get to Perth, booking the whole thing through a travel website will cost you $1250. But if you fly to Kuala Lumpur and transfer to an Air Asia flight for the final leg of the journey, you’ll save $250. And $250 can be weeks’ worth of hostel stay and food!
Also consider the airport you fly through. Not for how nice it is or if it has wifi, but the amount of taxes pay for flying out of it (these taxes would be included in your ticket price). For instance, flying out of Bangkok instead of Hong Kong could save you up to $100. In fact, if you want to use any airport in Southeast Asia as your “hub”, I highly recommend Bangkok be that airport, some round-trip international flights cost less than $50. Yes, fifty.
Lastly, sometimes the currency you pay your ticket in can help as well. This is a hit or miss strategy but; as an example, booking in Ukrainian Rubles instead of US Dollars might save you a cool $20. This is because not all website update currency rates in real time, but of course using a credit/debit card is real time and locks in that savings. Along the same lines as this, you might try booking through a foreign website using a non-native currency. I’ve never seen this work, but it usually won’t save you more than $30. But hell, if you’re going to Asia, that can be a week’s worth of food and hostels.
Be sure to check out our future ‘Layovers for backpacking beginners’ article. It can help make those stopovers into something you’ll look forward to.