Travel hacks - cheap flights
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What is up my lovely peeps! I’m feeling pretty darn great today with the sun out and the temperatures being a comfortable low 20’s C degrees.

Today I thought I’ll write up some travel hacks of mine that’s saved me a sh*t ton of

money. All these travel hacks are used and tested by me. They work like a charm and are based on my own travel experience.

Hope you enjoy them!

1. Book at the right time

This one depends on whether you have complete control over your time. But if you do then this is a simple and effective way to lower travel costs. Almost every place has a distinct high season and low season, and the prices between these times can be HUGE.

Do a little research on your destination and find out when flights are the most expensive. You can do this easily with by using their search tools. You can keep your dates flexible and look at entire months or even just tell Skyscanner to find flights during the cheapest months.

Travel hacks cheap flights
Here’s an example on how to find cheap flights for Tokyo from HK. The return prices will change a bit a you choose your departure date.

Though it’s wise to know there’s a reason it’s called low season. The weather might not be the best or you’ll miss key festivals, so if these factors mean a lot to you then you may want to reconsider.

Another trick is to book in advance. Flight prices fluctuate all the time in ways that don’t make much sense to the average traveller, but there is a pattern to it.

It’s not completely erratic.

In fact, it’s not erratic at all, it’s just so sophisticated it seems erratic to casual onlookers. But if you start thinking in the shoes of airline companies and do a little research; then the following rules all makes sense:

  • The best time to book long haul flights is 3-4 months in advance
  • The best time to book short haul flights are 1-2 months in advance
  • Short haul flights have the best last minute deals
  • Short haul flights are the most expensive when booked far in advance
  • Long haul flights start to increase in price once it gets to 1 month before the departure date
  • Flights of all lengths are cheaper with odd departure times and or arrival times
  • Flights tend to be cheaper during midweek

2. Use air miles

Air miles are a great way in getting free tickets, free upgrades or deep discounts. The most common way to get air miles is with a credit card that has an air mile rewards program. It’s a great way to passively earn yourself free travel when you use your credit card wisely. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who use an air miles credit card for all their business expenses. Needless to say, miles add up fast. (Another perk of entrepreneurship)

travel hacks air miles
The best air miles credit card in Hong Kong. I’m sure there’s better ones in USA, but I don’t know any of those.

There’s a lot of different credit cards on the market with different terms and conditions. They all get you air miles, but air miles aren’t created equally and the terms and conditions on credit cards can vary a lot. 

Just to elaborate further, some credit cards will only earn air miles for specific airlines, while others only work with specific airline groups. Take note of this when you apply to a credit card. You don’t want to get air miles for an airline you don’t use or even for an airline that doesn’t fly your routes.

The most important part about this tip is to collect miles intelligently. A lot of people don’t know how to do this properly and end up spending more, rather than saving! They get so caught up in collecting air miles with their credit card that they end up using their credit card frivolously. And if you don’t pay your credit card bill in full at the end of the month, then your air miles just end up being less worth it.

3. Join loyalty programs

This tip is like air miles, but more airline specific. Almost all airlines have their own loyalty program that helps you get perks when flying with them. The biggest airline in HK is Cathay Pacific and their Marco Polo club has great perks for loyal customers. Cathay Pacific also happens to be part of the One World alliance group and Asia Miles. So the points you get from the Marco Polo club can be used with other One World alliance airlines as well.

marco polo club travel hacks air miles
There’s more perks, but I couldn’t get it all in one screen shot…

This tip works best for long haul flights and I try my best to travel with Cathay Pacific or another One World airline for long haul flights. The reason for this is because long haul flights are usually more expensive than short haul flights no matter the deal. So the extra perks and discounts can mean a lot after a few flights under a single loyalty program, but short haul flights with large airlines are always overpriced compared to smaller airlines that specialise in short routes.

4. Use smaller airports

This only works with places that have more than one airport. Normally there’s a primary airport that most tourists fly in and out of and then there’s a smaller, older one. That’s the one with lower airport taxes and fees to run; making flight prices lower. That’s the one you want to use.

Every airport charge airlines various fees to operate their plans at the airport and these fees aren’t standardised. Fees to get a good checking in desk position, fees for the catering services, fees to operate the luggage logistics, the list goes on. The fees are typically more expensive in newer, bigger and fancier airports.

By using the secondary airports in a city, you can find cheaper flights. But there is a catch to this. Big airlines don’t tend to fly into these airports unless the travel destination is massive. We’re talking about the likes of London and New York, otherwise the only airlines that use these smaller airlines are lesser known ones or budget airlines. Which means flights are EVEN cheaper. However, you’re not going to be able to use this tip with number 3 and 2. Since most smaller or budget airline don’t join big air mile programs.

5. Take a short trip in between

Everyone knows you can get cheaper flights if you’re willing to fly indirect routes, but the disadvantages outweigh the money saved most of the time. There’s only two situations where I’m willing to fly indirect.

One: The layover is no more than 2 hours and the total hours travelled isn’t longer than 24 hours. This way, the layover isn’t even a layover. It’s more like a great opportunity to stretch your legs out and breath air that hasn’t been circulated for the 1000th time.

Two: The layover if more than 24 hours long. So again, it’s not a layover. It’s an opportunity to have a mini trip. You can find these super long layovers online and just apply for any visas needed to leave the airport, but you could also find these routes by calling up travel agents directly. The latter is the easiest way to find them, but the former will find you the best prices.

It’s a great way to go somewhere new and make the most of your time. Some cities with big local airlines that are good for this strategy are:

  • Amsterdam
  • Taipei
  • Dubai
  • Abu dhabi
  • Tokyo
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • London

I hope you found these travel hacks useful and try them out on your next trip. If you know anyone who travels often but doesn’t use these tips already, then share this travel hack post with them.

Other resources you should check out:

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