The Ultimate Guide to Snagging the Cheapest Flights

If the thought of sky-high airfares makes your heart sink, you’ve landed in the right spot. I’m a travel enthusiast who’s always on the hunt for the best deals!

I’ve spent countless hours scouring the web, experimenting with booking strategies, and chatting with fellow travellers to uncover the secrets of snagging those elusive cheap flights. And trust me, it’s an art!

This ultimate guide is jam-packed with my tried-and-tested tips, tricks, and hacks, specifically tailored for exploring Europe on a budget. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a solo female adventurer, get ready to unlock a world of affordable travel possibilities. Let’s dive in!

Timing is everything: the best days and times to book

As a seasoned traveller, I’ve learned that timing is crucial when booking flights. It’s not just about when you book, but also the day of the week and time of day. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, I’ve gathered insights and patterns that can help you score the best deals for your European adventures.

  • The Sweet Spot: When to Start Your Search Based on my experience and research, the sweet spot for booking European flights seems to be around 6-8 weeks before your intended travel date. This is when airlines often release unsold seats at lower prices, hoping to fill those empty seats. However, it’s important to note that this can vary depending on the airline, route, and season. For popular routes during peak season, you might want to start your search even earlier.
  • The Best Days to Book: Tuesdays and Wednesdays While some experts claim that there’s no significant difference between days of the week, I’ve consistently found that Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the best days to book. Airlines often launch sales and promotions during these midweek days, making it the perfect time to snag a deal.
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  • Early Bird Gets the Worm: The Best Time of Day Early mornings, particularly around 6 am, can also be a good time to book. This is when airlines sometimes adjust their prices, and you might find lower fares that haven’t yet been discovered by other travellers. Plus, booking early in the day gives you more time to research and compare different options before making a decision.
  • Flexibility is Key: Embrace the Unexpected While these tips can increase your chances of finding a great deal, it’s important to remember that there are always exceptions. Sometimes, you might find the best price on a weekend or at a different time of day. The key is to be flexible and open to the unexpected.
  • Use Fare Comparison Tools: Your Best Friend in the Search To help you find the best deals, I highly recommend using fare comparison tools like Google Flights and Skyscanner. These platforms allow you to search for flights across a range of dates and airlines, making it easy to compare prices and find the most affordable option.
  • Set Fare Alerts: Let the Deals Come to You Another helpful tool is setting fare alerts. Many airlines and travel websites allow you to set alerts for specific routes and dates. You’ll receive a notification when the price drops, giving you a chance to book at the optimal time. This takes the stress out of constantly checking for deals, and you can relax knowing that you’ll be notified when a good offer becomes available.

Remember, patience and persistence are key when it comes to finding the best flight deals. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect price right away. Keep searching, experimenting with different dates and times, and utilise the tools available to you. With a little effort, you’ll be well on your way to scoring those cheap flights and embarking on your next European adventure.

Hack the system: insider tips for scoring deals

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Now, let’s dive into some insider tips that I’ve gathered over the years to help you hack the system and find those hidden gems:

  • Be Flexible: If your travel dates are flexible, consider using fare comparison websites like Google Flights or Skyscanner, which allow you to search for the cheapest flights across a range of dates. You might be surprised at how much you can save by simply adjusting your travel dates by a few days.
  • Consider Alternative Airports: Sometimes, flying into a smaller airport near your destination can be significantly cheaper. Check out nearby options and factor in transportation costs to see if it’s a worthwhile trade-off. For example, flying into London Luton or Stansted instead of Heathrow can often save you a considerable amount.
  • Clear Your Cookies: Airlines and travel websites often track your browsing history and may increase prices if they notice you’ve searched for a particular flight multiple times. Clear your cookies or use incognito mode to avoid this and ensure you’re seeing the most accurate prices.
  • Sign Up for Airline Newsletters and Fare Alerts: This is an easy way to stay informed about sales, promotions, and last-minute deals. Many airlines offer exclusive discounts to their subscribers. It’s a simple step that can lead to significant savings.
  • Consider Budget Airlines: Budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet often have incredibly low fares, especially for shorter flights within Europe. Be aware of their baggage restrictions and additional fees, but if you pack light, they can be a fantastic option for budget-conscious travellers.
  • Look for Error Fares: While rare, airlines occasionally make mistakes when posting fares, resulting in incredibly cheap flights. Websites like Secret Flying and Airfarewatchdog specialise in tracking down these error fares. Keep an eye on these sites, and you might just stumble upon an unbelievable deal.

Oneflyaway: your secret weapon for spontaneous adventures

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For those who crave spontaneity, OneFlyAway is a game-changer. This innovative platform curates a selection of last-minute flight deals to exciting destinations, often at a fraction of the regular price. I’ve used OneFlyAway for several impromptu getaways, and it’s always a thrill to see where it takes me next.

The platform is particularly useful for solo travellers and backpackers who are open to new experiences and don’t mind being a bit flexible with their plans. You might end up discovering a hidden gem you never knew existed!

  • The Thrill of the Unknown: Embrace Spontaneity OneFlyAway is not your typical booking platform. It’s designed for travellers who are open to the thrill of the unknown and don’t mind being a bit flexible with their plans. Instead of searching for specific dates and destinations, you simply browse through the available deals and see where your wanderlust takes you. It’s a fantastic way to discover hidden gems you might not have considered otherwise.
  • How It Works: Simplicity at Its Best Using OneFlyAway is incredibly easy. Simply visit their website or app, browse the current deals, and select the one that sparks your interest. You’ll then be redirected to the airline’s website to complete your booking. The entire process is streamlined and user-friendly, making it perfect for those last-minute decisions.

Faredrop: the app that does the deal-hunting for you

If you’re short on time or simply prefer a more automated approach, FareDrop is your new best friend. This clever app monitors flight prices for you and sends notifications when fares drop on your chosen routes. I love how it takes the hassle out of deal-hunting, allowing me to focus on planning the fun parts of my trip.

FareDrop is available for both iOS and Android devices, and it’s incredibly easy to use. Simply enter your desired routes, and the app will do the rest.

Additional tricks: beyond the basics

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Now, let’s explore some additional tricks that go beyond the basics:

  • Consider a Stopover: Sometimes, booking a flight with a stopover in another city can be cheaper than a direct flight. This can also be a great opportunity to explore a new destination for a day or two. For example, if you’re flying from London to Athens, consider a stopover in Istanbul or Rome to add a bit of extra adventure to your trip.
  • Join Frequent Flyer Programmes: Even if you don’t fly often, joining frequent flyer programmes can be beneficial. You’ll earn points or miles on each flight, which can be redeemed for future flights, upgrades, or other perks. It’s a way to get a little something extra out of each trip.
  • Use a VPN: Some airlines and travel websites display different prices based on your location. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to change your virtual location and potentially access lower fares. This is especially useful when booking flights from countries with higher average incomes.
  • Consider Package Deals: Sometimes, booking a flight and hotel together as a package deal can be cheaper than booking them separately. Many travel agencies and websites offer these bundled options. This can be a convenient way to save time and money, especially if you’re not picky about your accommodation.
  • Haggle: Believe it or not, you can sometimes haggle with airlines to get a better price, especially if you’re booking a group trip or if you spot a lower fare on another website. It never hurts to ask! Be polite but persistent, and you might be surprised at what you can achieve.

Real-life examples: success stories from savvy travelers

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To show you that these tips truly work, here are a few real-life examples of how I and other savvy travellers have scored amazing deals:

  • I once booked a round-trip flight from London to Rome for just £20 by using a combination of fare alerts, budget airlines, and flexible travel dates. It required some patience and persistence, but the savings were well worth it!
  • A friend of mine snagged a last-minute flight to Paris for a romantic weekend getaway using OneFlyAway. The fare was less than half the usual price, and she had an unforgettable time exploring the city of love.
  • A fellow travel blogger I follow saved hundreds of pounds on a multi-city trip through Europe by booking individual flights with different budget airlines instead of a single, more expensive ticket. This allowed her to visit multiple destinations without breaking the bank.

These are just a few examples of the many success stories out there. With a little patience, research, and the right tools, you too can discover incredible flight deals and embark on unforgettable adventures.

Bonus tips for solo female travellers and backpackers 

As a solo female traveller and backpacker myself, I understand the unique challenges and concerns that come with this type of travel. Here are a few additional tips tailored specifically for you:

  • Prioritise Safety: Choose airlines with good safety records and research the safety of your destination before booking your flight. Consider booking flights that arrive during the day and arrange transportation in advance to avoid arriving alone at night. Trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Pack Light: Travelling light is essential for backpackers and solo female travellers. It makes it easier to navigate airports, public transportation, and crowded streets. Stick to carry-on luggage whenever possible to avoid checked baggage fees and the risk of lost luggage.
  • Connect with Other Travellers: Joining online forums and social media groups for solo female travellers and backpackers can be a great way to connect with others, share tips, and find travel companions if you prefer. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re not alone in your adventures.

Finding cheap flights to Europe doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By utilising these strategies and embracing a bit of flexibility, you can unlock a world of affordable travel opportunities. Remember, the journey begins with a single step (or in this case, a single click!). So, start planning your next adventure today, and may your travels be filled with joy, discovery, and unforgettable memories!

Make Your Trip Easier

I’m all about planning trips on your own and figuring your way around the local scene. But still, I don’t want to leave you like a fish out of water!

Here are some resources I regularly use whenever I travel (on my own or with other people):

xo, Alice


Alice

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