One of my favorite part of traveling is definitely those ‘behind the scene’ moments: plan, schedule, research! I can become quite obsessed while planning a trip but it is totally worth it. I love looking for insiders’ tips and ways to optimize my backpacking schedule (unless I have no time pressure then I’ll mostly research the things I should not miss) and most important finding the cheapest flights…
To be on a budget, even though I would not necessarily need to, is a choice my heart made a few years ago. It is a way for me to feel like a traveler versus a tourist. Does this make sense? For me, it surely does and this means that every time my main focus is to successfully get cheap (cheap, cheap, cheap) flights.
How do you secure the lowest possible fare, you are wondering?! Well let me share with you my tricks to find affordable tickets – this is not an exact science, only my guts and own experience talking:
1) You might want to join various frequent flyers programs such as miles & more, emirates skyward or oneworld. Once in a while you will score award flights and well what’s cheaper than a free ticket? (Let me think… Still thinking… Rethinking…)
2) Do. Not. Book. Your. Flights too early but neither too late… The perfect timing, according to some experts, is 3 to 6 months before you want to fly out. There is no written rule though, so may the force be with you!
3) Sign up to airlines’ newsletters. You get weekly / daily updates that could make you aware of special fares (those you might have missed otherwise). You might get lucky and see your wish ticket being discounted. Who doesn’t like to brag about a great bargain?! However please be aware that those tickets can be pretty restrictive but if you have the luxury to be flexible then jackpot!
4) Check ebookers flight+hotel – surprisingly (thanks Nani!) you might save a few bucks when you book those two together. That’s what we did for Malaysia and for a little over 600 dollars we flew to Kuala Lumpur and stayed two nights in a fantastic hotel. BARGAIN!
5) Use kayak to compare the available flights. Be ready to be flexible with your dates, you might save a few hundred dollars / francs by flying on a different day. Yes, it can be so simple!
6) Search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode as fares can increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched (this, based on the cookies in your browser!) – this one is a ‘I think this is plausible but I have no proof to support it so why not’. Urban legend or not, I am thankful for any tip that could spare me a few hundred bucks so my dear browser, it is time for you to become secretive!
7) Don’t go too cheap unless you are ready for delays, bad communication, lack of entertainment, rude staff – easier said than done I know! My main dilemma (probably yours too) is tough : I want to get the best prices! Sometimes (over)saving on flights can cause you stress and anger as service, entertainment and equipment can make you regret you chose the cheap option.
You need to ask yourself this: is it worth it? I remember for instance the hassle I had when I travelled with El Al from Milan to Hong Kong. A nightmare. They treated me like a criminal, detaining me until boarding was about to start. And very unfriendly (what would you expect from their secret services anyway?!). Bad memories! But hey, I flew for 300 dollars to Hongkong and back so can I really complaint, right?
I am now checking airlines and dates for a trip in the near future and I came across Condor. Has anyone flown with Condor? I have been reading so many reviews and they were either over enthusiastic (which makes me suspect that they were left by ‘fake’ reviewers) or really harsh.
This is true what they say that we get what we pay for and when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Point taken. I’m a pretty easy flyer. I can sleep easily, relax, listen to my music, read books. I usually have my own snacks and water so I’m not very demanding in term of entertainment and food.
I mostly need a plane that can bring me from place A to B and my main worry is always the same: will my luggages arrive on time? Should I trust Conor and pay 400 dollars to fly when his competitors offer 600 to 700 dollars?
If anyone has any further inputs to find cheap flights or had any experience with Condor, feel free to let me know!
Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!