comparison travel sites
I’ve left this to last, as I think most of you already will know this information. But just in case you don’t, here it is:
Finding the best value flights
Aggregate sites search across hundreds of flight companies and booking sites (such as Expedia and Travelocity) to help you find the best deal. They are good to use as a starting point, or as confirmation that the flight you are about to books is the best deal available.
The sites I use are Kayak.co.uk, Google flights and Skyscanner.net
I find them particularly useful for long haul flights – especially if you have flexibility and time to go via other cities.
If you are open to returning from different airports, then use the multi-city function by putting a comma between each airport code, like this on Kayak.co.uk for Charles De Gaulle (Paris) and Amsterdam.
You could also put in multiple home based airports if you can leave and return to different locations (easiest for London residents).
Google Flights can also work out the difference between a cheap flight and a bad flight by letting you select 'best' flight. This helps you avoid a red-eye journey or a crazy long layover.
Google Flights is particularly useful if you are open with dates or unsure of destinations. By using the 'explore' tool you can search for an entire month, as well as a broad region, such as 'Europe'.
Long Haul flights made less painful
Being an Australian living in the UK, I make the long journey between my two homes frequently.
If I have time, I break the trip up into sectors, and always check the business class price for different segments.
For instance, business flights between European (not often UK) and Asian cities can sometimes be really good value. I then use a budget airline from Asia to Australia return to keep costs down - which is tolerable as it's the shorter leg.
This strategy is only useful if you love business class (oh I do!), have the time (and energy and tolerance) to overnight in different cities (usually fine with me but sometimes I just want to get to my final destination).
Finally, all of these sites allow you to track your search results using email alerts that will let you know when the prices have changed. I've saved thousands of pounds over the years using this system.
Final tip: Avoid website cookies.
Travel sites use algorithms to calculate costs. If you have a specific date and destination in mind, cookies may track your behaviour, and this can lead to price increases when you return and search the same route again. You're best to clear your cookies, use a browser that prohibits cookies, or when you are about to book, check it using a different IP address (maybe your mobile phone using data).
Well, that's the end of my five-part UK travel hacking series. I hope you found at least one tip to make your next trip fantastic value.
If you've got any ideas you'd like to share, or areas you'd like me to cover, please comment below.
Enjoy the journey.