This is where you can make a big difference between ending up being broke or explore more destinations. Choose between insanely expensive direct flights or see a few countries for free, with long layovers and for less money! I’ll teach you to fly like a genius: how to plan, where to get cheap flights and how to avoid getting screwed.
As per my current road trip, flights alone represent between 37% of my total expenses (3657 USD for 31 flights). So flights are important since they take up a huge chunk of money. Better booking them wisely.
By doing so, I managed to save at least 1500usd, and get to see 8 countries virtually for free. Long layovers (between 10 and 72 hours) were (much) cheaper than a direct flight. This is worth spending a few hours to spot the best deals!
Check out how to use layover when you travel.
Planning Is Caring
This is the first step for a long trip; you will often have to fly. With long-term travel, it’s not easy to travel stick to a specific airline to collect miles as it can get really expensive.
Start by using flights comparators. From my experience, the three most efficient ones on the market are Google Flight, Skyscanner & Kayak. I mostly use the first two ones, because they compensate for each other’s weaknesses:
- Skyscanner allows you to look for flights anywhere, anytime. Let’s say you’re in Sydney and you consider having two weeks off to go “somewhere” “sometimes” between June and August. There we go, Skyscanner will browse all airlines websites for you, and find deals you don’t think about! You cannot do that with Google Flight.
- Google Flight has a very efficient recommendation engine. For example, you want to fly from Lima Peru to Miami USA which is about 250usd, Google Flight will be the only one suggest you fly to Fort Lauderlade instead, about 30km north of Miami, for 150 USD. Same goes for the layover, you want to fly from Milan Italy to Singapore one-way, best price you have is like 350usd with Alitalia or Malaysian Airlines, but google flight will suggest you instead to fly to Athens Greece with Ryanair for 30usd and then fly to Singapore with Scoot for 190usd the day after. It’s longer, you don’t get to eat or drink during the flights, you will pay about 50 USD more for checked-in luggage if you have some but if you’re travelling light and you don’t care, you end up saving almost 150 USD! You cannot do that with Skyscanner.
Trevellers Tips: Frequent Flyer Program
Each time you book with a different airline, always enrol in the loyalty program, its free and takes 2min. Then, use your credential when you book the flight. You will start from the lowest level but eventually, after years, you will have a decent number of miles and will be rewarded! Maybe it will just be a free checked-in luggage, but it’s better than nothing.
Lisa’s 2 cents: when collecting points, stick to specific FFP. E.g. if you are flying with OneWorld, pump your points in British Airways. They have the best return per points in the entire OneWorld Alliance FFP.
“Don’t fly when it’s cheap, fly where it’s cheap”
Become Addicted To It
You will end up saving hundreds of dollars (even thousands if you’re travelling a lot), and will get to see new countries for free! Isn’t it fantastic?
It goes without saying, the more you do it, the better you become. Some people play Candycrush when they’re bored, I search random flights to random places on Google Flight! I have reached a point where I take the problem upside-down: I don’t find cheap flights to go where I want but I rather fly where it is cheap.
For example, I planned a trip to New Zealand from Australia last year, but I found a cheaper flight to go to Hawaii instead, so I went to Hawaii!
Most important, will come a moment when you become smarter than the flight comparators. You will understand the that international airlines work with hubs. There is little correlation between distance flown & price, but rather between supply & demand.
How To Screw Low-Cost Airlines That Screw You
That something I very much appreciate doing! And I am pretty sure you will too.
Low-cost airlines cut here and then on their expenses and their service become an A La Carte menu. Pay for food, pay for checked in luggage, pay for airport check-in, pay to print the boarding pass, and even sometimes pay for water and carry-on luggage.
They will even deny you to board with some outside food or snack so that they can charge you 3 times more on board (hide your sandwiches, it’s not illegal!). Of course, this is always mentioned when you book, but it is never made obvious so many people miss it.
Here are some tips to avoid being ripped off:
- Clear the customs with an empty bottle and fill it in the bathroom after the screening, you will save 5usd for a fucking bottle of water
- Make sandwiches at home and take apples, so that you don’t pay 10usd for a microwave meal set
- For long-haul flights, take with you your sleeping bag and a sweater you can fold into a pillow, as you won’t have any blanket or pillow on board. If they try to screw you saying that your sleeping bag is a carry-on item, just unfold it in front of them, put it around your neck and just say “it’s a scarf.”
- Wear what’s heavy and put heavy things in your pockets: VivaAir only allows 6kg on board, and they check it. Wear your trekking shoes, winter jacket, and put your camera, power pack, water bottle and whatever you can in your pockets!
- Travel with your tape to tape things together. Vanilla Air allows you to have 8kg on board but must be only one item. I had two items weighing 8kg all together, and they wanted to charge me for a second one. So, I used 2m of industrial tape to tape my two bags together into one!
Travelling expensively has changed me, even shaped me in a way. Today, I am very keen to share this experience with people, from all backgrounds: people willing to start travelling, or doing it even more often, wiser or in a more sustainable way. I have received more help, friendships and kindness that I would have expected. For me, this series is a way for me to give back, to help people in return, to inspire beginners.