The Thrifty Traveller’s Guide to Cheap Flights

Because everybody deserves a break that doesn’t break the bank, right?

Finding flights is a little bit marmite – you either love doing it, or you hate doing it – it’s difficult to know whether you’re really getting a good deal on a flight, or if you’re simply settling for a price that you could get so much cheaper from a different site.

I’ve been there – in fact, I’ve been there so often that it was only until about two years ago, when I’d bought flights and then committed the cardinal sin of continuing to search the markets for flights after – and finding the same flight, same time, from the same location somewhere else for much, much cheaper.

This past year I’ve looked at so many flights and done so much flight research that friends of mine have actually started coming to me querying prices for certain places at certain times like I’ve got Thomas Cook on speed-dial (I wish).

The following tips are what I’ve learned from developing a serious crush on finding flights – or more accurately – cheap flights because I’m not a multimillionaire and I’m not paying extra for leg room. *Though I wish I could*

#1 Meet Your New Best Friends: Skyscanner & Kayak

This is usually the first port of call for me on my flight-search. It’s been over a year since I started using Skyscanner and I STILL don’t know whether it’s a coveted secret or something that everybody knows about! The same can be said for Kayak, which I’ve only just started using recently.

Both sites are like the Amazon of flights: you put in your dates, your flexibility and the magic does the rest. I always start a search with Skyscanner to get a general gist of prices, but more recently I’ve been using Kayak too and seeing even cheaper prices on there!

I don’t know if they competitively go lower than each other, but when used in conjunction you can definitely see that one is always cheaper than the other!

#2 The Magic of Apps

Firstly, Hopper. Does anybody know Hopper? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody else referencing this app online. I don’t know why though because I have about 4 flights stewing on there at any given time.

Hopper is a free app that gives you freakin’ good peace of mind over time. Like Skyscanner, you search and select your dates – but taking it to the next level, Hopper will predict whether the price is likely to go down or up depending on when you book.

Basically, the app will say when the best time for you to book would be based on the average fluctuation (fancy word) of this flight across various weeks leading up to the date. That make sense? Then you’ll receive a weekly notification like “hiya, this flight is currently £ but the price is likely to drop” or “hiya, this flight is currently £ and this ain’t goin’ nowhere but up so you better log on and book this sucker soon”.

*UPDATE: Kayak offers the same flight-prediction on their site & in the app, so if you search/purchase with them you get the same feature in there, too*

#3 Mailing Lists Don’t Have to Be Pests

Last week Easyjet offered me £30 return to Berlin off their mailing list and it was so delectable I had to put all my willpower into not buying two tickets pronto.

Then the next day it offered me a £30 return to Paris and sweat beaded so hard on my forehead that I had to resign myself to delete the e-mail without even looking. Damn for busy periods of work.

What this little experience has taught me, however, is that mailing lists are friends, not foes. These little dingbats, though evil, when coming from the wrong companies, can be the blessing in disguise you need when you want to book a trip somewhere but you don’t know where and then – Hey, Berlin for £30? Lemme be ri– alright it’s booked! What were you saying?

#4 Go Directly to Flight Company Websites

Another alternative to mailing lists and their inner beauty is going straight to the airline’s websites. Easyjet, in particular, has a load of cheap flights in brilliant locations. Ryanair is another fab site for great prices. This is less of a tip and probably more common knowledge so I’m not going to press too much on this topic. But yeah, check out those airline websites. Especially discount lines, they’re always a great place to start and discount doesn’t mean an uncomfortable or horrible ride at the end of the day. You can get some real gems of a trip – they’re a lot better than you might expect.

#5 Learn to Love the Unsociable Travel

When going in for the cheapest tickets – ALWAYS be liberal with your dates and times. I remember reading a post similar to this where somebody recommended making yourself available to fly unsociable hours and promised that it would save you heaps of cash.

And me, being trusting as ever, scoffed a “yeah whatever” scoff and moved on. Oh Michael of the past, how wrong you were. Now when I see a 7 a.m. flight I’m clicking faster than those brothers playing Pieface in that meme.

The one thing I’m not too sure on are layovers. Some people claim that layovers save you money but I’m yet to be like “OH! So if we fly into ____ and then wait for ______ and fly to _______ we’ll save £££!” (how imaginative was that?) – in fact, nearly every layover I’ve seen while flight hunting has been a lot more expensive than flying directly!

#6 Browse Privately

I never noticed how much different browsing privately makes to the price. If you don’t think that these sneaky airlines save your browsing details then browse privately and be satisfied at the fact that they’ll probably offer you a cheaper price than if you were re-checking a flight EVEN IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. Why you gotta do me like that, guys? I thought we were all friends here.

#7 Clear Your Cookies on the Regular

The same idea applies to your cookies. Basically, cookies is another word for the information saved from the websites you visit – so when you delete all your cookies, your previous browsing data is deleted along with them so airlines don’t know that you’ve been looking at that luxe flight to Prague every day this week, and instead offer you the price they would if you were checking for the first time (and odds are, it’ll be a lot cheaper. Js.)

I really hope this post has helped convince you to go and book those flights for that holiday you completely deserve. Because you do, and if there’s any time to get looking at treating yourself it’s right now. Because why not that’s why. So go do.

As always, thank-you so much for reading. I’d love to hear what your travel tips might be, or your thoughts on my travel tips if you want to comment below or tweet/Instagram me @mileinmyglasses!

Have a lovely day,

  • Oh, I never knew about websites looking at my history and increasing prices from them. How sneaky! Okay, going into incognito mode now when I look for flights :B

    • It is sneaky, isn’t it!? Ha! That’s definitely always safer! I hope you have a lovely week!

  • I’m currently planning a trip to south-east Asia and am loving Kayak, it’s seriously the best tool for comparing flights. And it’s great that you put in the bit about cookies, I always clear my cookies or use incognito mode. I’ve also noticed there’s a slight difference on travel sites when I’m using a Mac vs. a PC!

    Priya //

    • Thanks Priya! I love Kayak too, it’s so useful isn’t it!? Although I never find myself actually using their hotel finder – I usually stick to other search sites instead! I should probably migrate across, haha! I hope you have a lovely week!

  • Mademoiselle Coconath

    I will definetly going incognito next time I book a flight. Great post!
    Mademoiselle Coconath

    • Thank-you so much! I hope you have a lovely week!

  • Yarina Yao

    Love this post!


    • Thank-you so much Yarina! I hope you have a lovely week!

  • These are great tips – just to add one, sometimes a longer flight is worth it! Im flying from New York to Barcelona next month, but booked a flight that has a layover in Istanbul. Definitely out of the way, but it saved me 400 dollars! Worth it in my book

    • Oh wow, that’s a great saving! I’ve never been able to get a layover that would save me money (yet) but I’m always on the lookout! Thanks for the awesome tip!

  • Sophie Lee

    That cookie tips is amazing, first time heard of it <3

    xoxo, Cool style for men