Travel may be touted as one of the most rewarding things that you can do with your time, but let’s face it; exploring a new part of the world may be a whole lot of fun, but getting there often isn’t. Some people may love the whole process of booking flights, going to the airport, and physically being on the plane, but for most of us, that’s just the stuff we have to wade through to get to the good bits… and that wading can be expensive and uncomfortable!
Booking flights can be a minefield by itself, as travelers struggle to be sure that they are getting the best possible deal in an industry where prices seem to change with the direction of the wind. Then there’s the frustration of being stuck in a plane for hours on end when you just can’t get comfortable… but thankfully, there are things that you can do to avoid spending more than you have to, or getting off your flight grumpy and miserable. These tips and tricks will help you find the cheapest flight available, and stay comfy throughout, so that you can get to your destination with a full wallet and a smile on your face.
20 Search In Incognito (Cheaper)
Have you ever experienced that situation where you find a flight at once price, but then when you search for it again, it’s disappeared? You’re not alone (and not going crazy, either). Your browser history will actually lead to increased fares if you are repeatedly searching the same route - a clever tactic by the airlines to scare passengers into buying quickly. Avoid this particular annoyance by using your browser’s incognito or private browsing mode, which resets cookies whenever you open a new window. If you are already browsing in incognito, close your windows and open a new one to make sure this happens between searches.
19 Set Up Flight Alerts (Cheaper)
If you know where you want to go, but not when, or you often fly to the same place, consider setting up a flight alert with an airfare comparison site. Sites like Skyscanner and AirFareWatchdog allow you to set alerts for specific routes, and will then e-mail you when tickets for that route go on sale. If you aren’t picky about exactly when you will travel, this can be a great way to take advantage of deals as they come up. It can be especially helpful for booking last-minute trips, as airlines often drop the price nearer to the flight date in order to fill up a plane that isn’t fully booked.
18 Find The Cheapest Day Of The Month (Cheaper)
Another great option for people who can be a little bit flexible with their travel dates is to search an entire month of fares for a specific route. While most websites will require you to search by date, or occasionally to search within a ‘date range’ of a few days at most, some sites (like SkyScanner) will allow you to search the prices for a route across an entire month. This means that you can easily see which days of the month may be the most expensive, and which will save you money - as long as you don’t mind exactly when you leave.
17 Take Advantage of Budget Airlines (Cheaper)
As well as the bigger airlines, don’t forget to check with smaller (often national-only) budget airlines like Swoop, JetBlue or EasyJet. These are airlines that specifically cater to the budget traveler, and can often save you quite a bit of money. However - be aware of extra fees before you book! Budget airlines offer low prices by charging for everything from checked baggage to food and drink to entertainment.
Make sure that the money you save won’t be eaten up by baggage fees, taxes, or other costs before you book the flight.
16 Don’t Forget About Airmiles And Credit Cards (Cheaper)
If you have an AirMiles card, or a credit card that offers points redeemable toward airfare, don’t forget to use them when it comes time to actually book your flight! Take advantage of the points that you’ve been racking up, and check to see if your credit card or health insurance includes travel insurance to save you money on booking that separately. And of course, if you fly the same route or airline on a regular basis, get that rewards card!
Most airlines offer rewards programs for free, and you can build up points to earn free flights if you are a frequent traveler.
15 Book On A Monday… (Cheaper)
There are plenty of theories on when the best time is to book your flight - too far in advance will cost you, but so will last minute (unless you find a flight deal)… however, research has shown that the best day of the week to make your flight plans is a Monday - and the worst is a Saturday.
Skyscanner also has a ‘best time to book’ tool, which will show you how far in advance and at what time of year you should book a route to get the best deal. While that may not help for travel based around specific events, it’s incredibly helpful for booking bucket list trips that don’t need to happen at any particular time.
14 …And Fly On A Friday (Cheaper)
Many people believe that the cheapest time to fly is mid-week, theoretically avoiding all those weekend break or week-long commuter types and getting a better deal. However, data from both Skyscanner and Kayak suggests that Friday is actually the best day to fly if you are looking for a cheap ticket. That said, there’s no one clear winner, and other research has found that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are best… meaning that it may pay off to leave the work week early for a weekend getaway, but it makes sense to double check with some of the other budget hacks on this list.
13 Consider A Package Deal (Cheaper)
If you need to book a whole vacation, and not just a flight, you can save money by booking the hotel, flight, and car rental together. Make sure to check sites like Expedia, that offer options to book all three, as they will often give travelers a discount for the package deal. This may take a little more research to make sure that the combo is a better deal, but for the money it can save, that’s definitely worth the time and effort. Package deals are especially helpful for last minute travel, where they can save a bundle.
12 Book Different Legs Separately (Cheaper)
It’s tempting to just search prices for your final destination, and that’s certainly the fastest way to do it… but the fastest isn’t always the cheapest. It may pay off to book the legs of your journey separately, especially if you know that the majority of flights from A to B stop off at airport C.
Individual flights can be cheaper than booking them together - just don’t try this with tight layovers and connections, as booking separately means that the airline has no responsibility to make sure you get to your destination if the first flight is delayed.
11 Consider Other Airports (Cheaper)
Rather than just looking at flights to the most central airport at your destination, check to see if there are any other airports nearby that might get you a better deal. Many major cities (like New York) have multiple airports, while others may have one major airport and a smaller airport further out of the city, and most websites have an option to ‘include nearby airports’, just in case.
For longer (and more flexible) trips, you can even use Google Flights to search out flights to nearby cities (or countries) to find the cheapest way to a general area of the world - and combining a flight and a bus or train ride may save you a lot of money (if not time).
10 Pick Comfort Over Style (More comfortable)
It may be tempting to try and look as stylish as possible at the airport (for those all-important going-on-vacation selfies), but think about whether that’s going to be worth it when you are sitting still for hours on end. Avoid tight jeans that can cut into your mid section, stiff clothing or high heels (especially as feet swell while in the air). Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to bust out the sweatpants! Just choose softer clothing and lots of layers so that you can stay comfy and warm on the plane.
9 Sleep Masks And Ear Plugs (More comfortable)
These two items should be at the top of every traveler’s list - and they can make a huge difference to the quality of your flight. A sleep mask is essential on any flight where you intend to get some shut-eye, as it will prevent your sleep being disturbed by cabin lights and tv screens, but can also be helpful if you just want to rest your eyes (especially as they can get dehydrated in the cabin).
Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones are also hugely helpful for sleep, but also for shutting out the noise of the other passengers, even if you intend to stay awake the whole flight.
8 Picky Eaters Should Sit Up Front (More comfortable)
Travelers with specific dietary requirements should always contact the airline in advance if there is a meal offered, as many will provide vegetarian, vegan, kosher or gluten-free meals given enough notice. However, if you don’t have any dietary requirements, but just like to have the choice of what to eat (whether the meal is included or at an extra cost), try and get a seat at the front of the plane.
Food is served front to back, so the further forward you are, the less likely it is that the airline will have run out of the option you want.
7 Never Sit In The Last Row (More comfortable)
Even if you aren’t a picky eater, stay away from seats toward the far rear of the plane, especially the final row. Turbulence and travel sickness are worst at the back of the aircraft, for one thing, but more than that, the final row of seats often doesn’t recline. This can mean being jammed behind someone who has reclined their seat, with no option to recline your own seat to get a little more space. Add in the noise of cabin crew in the galley, and the noise and smell of people going to the bathroom, and there is little doubt that this is the worst row to be in.
6 Pay Attention To The Aircraft (More comfortable)
You may have noticed that your ticket or route/airline information will often include the type of aircraft used - a Boeing 747, an Airbus A320, etc etc. While useful for airplane lovers, most travelers will ignore this info… but it can make a huge difference to the flight. Different aircraft will often have different amenities (like entertainment systems), or more or less space between seats, but the biggest impact is in the cabin pressure.
If you can, book a flight on a Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) or an Airbus A350, both of which have a cabin pressure equivalent to about 2,000 feet lower than a standard aircraft. And that means less dehydration, better sleep, and fewer issues with sinuses.
5 Invest In A Good Travel Pillow… (More comfortable)
Travel pillows are a common accessory for anyone who spends a lot of time trying to get some sleep on a plane, but don’t be tempted to skimp on a cheap one. A great travel pillow will support your neck and keep you comfortable, while cheaper ones are often too soft and simply take up space. And don’t forget that many headrests have wings that fold forward so that you can lean your head on them more comfortably - combined with a supportive neck pillow, it practically guarantees landing without any annoying neck pain from the flight.
4 …And A Travel FootRest (More comfortable)
Travel pillows may be common, but travel footrests certainly are not. However, these can really help when it comes to getting a good rest or taking some pressure off sore legs, knees and joints. There are multiple options available, from inflatable footrests that fit in front of your seat to footrest hammocks that hang from the seat back in front of you. These footrests are especially useful for helping kids sleep, by giving them a way to lie flat. Whichever one you pick, these make the flight significantly more comfortable, without taking up much of that precious carry-on space.
3 Bring Your Own Blanket (More comfortable)
We’ve already mentioned dressing in layers and comfy clothes, but make sure that you are wearing enough of them to keep warm. Even flying from one hot place to another, the actual cabin of an aircraft is generally kept around 22-24 degrees C (70 - 75F), which can get chilly, especially when sitting still. If you are going to be sleeping, bring a thin blanket - it will keep you warm and snuggly, and you don’t have to worry about being too cold to sleep, or being stuck with an airline issue scratchy blanket (assuming they even offer you one).
2 Consider Natural Remedies (More comfortable)
If you find flying slightly uncomfortable and stressful no matter what else you do, consider trying out some natural remedies for calming yourself on board. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is an extremely popular tincture (in a bottle small enough to take through security) that promises relief from minor anxiety and stress - perfect to get you calm, but not too spaced out, while in transit. Tossing some remedies for nausea, motion sickness, and headache in your carry on (as well as a few over the counter medications, just in case) will ensure that you have something to deal with any issue you encounter while in the air.
1 Arrive Feeling Refreshed (More comfortable)
Finally, take the opportunity to do a little pampering - after all, there’s not much else to do at 35,000 feet! The cabin of a plane can be extremely drying on your skin, so bring some wipes to clean your face and some rich moisturizer. Drink lots of water, slap on some moisturizer, put your hair up with a little oil, and don some fuzzy socks to keep your feet warm before you get to sleep - ready to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go adventuring.
It may look a little silly, but it beats landing with dry skin, caked makeup, and bleary eyes!