How to save money on air fares abroad
At this time of year, with cold and dreary weather behind us, people begin to think ahead to their annual summer holiday. However, with household budgets still under pressure, securing a vacation that is affordable remains a challenge for many families. According to global accommodation provider Travelodge, 74% of Britons holidayed in the UK last year with the numbers opting for a ‘staycation’ doubling since 2011. But if you crave a holiday abroad this year, our top money saving tips could make the airline fares less prohibitive.
A common misconception is that the earlier you purchase your flights, the cheaper it will be, but it’s not actually that simple. Airlines tend to ‘block price’ seats, offering a set number for a certain price, much like you’d find in a theatre (except there’s little difference where you sit on a plane). In 2014, web booker CheapAir published research showing that, in the early days, air fares tend to be at their steepest. If you can hold your nerve, the best offers are most common in the last three months before departure, with optimum prices 54 days before. You do, of course, run the risk of your chosen flight being sold out, so proceed with caution.
Okay, so this one is a bit controversial, but everyone knows that in school terms flights are universally cheaper. Recent legislation dictates that parents who withdraw their children from school for holidays face fines of £150 per child per parent (one occasion when it’s better to be a single parent maybe). But even taking fines into account, the savings can still be worth having. Also, it’s worth knowing that fines can only be issued for an absence of five days or more, so some clever timing – flying out up to four days before the end of a term – will secure cheaper prices and avoid those pesky fines in the process.
To obscurity and beyond…
No, not your destination, but your departure airport. Tempting though it may be to fly from the huge hubs in London or Manchester, flights from smaller regional airports – Norwich, Bournemouth and Cornwall among others – are often cheaper (but you’ll need to factor in the cost of travel to the airport). What’s more, you save more by choosing unsexy flight times, such as after 9pm; just plan to spend your first day dozing by the pool to recover.
Finally, it may sound impossible, but only travelling on hand luggage is doable (even with children). Simply book somewhere hot, only pack light clothes and leave ALL non-essentials at home. Remember, kids get a hand luggage allowance too – and each case is entirely free in the cabin.
Flights need not cost the earth this summer, so long as you think laterally and plan where you can cut costs, meaning that dream overseas destination might just become reality.