How to find cheap flights and get the most from your travel budget

how to save on flights

Are you looking for a way to travel without breaking the bank? You’re not alone. With the cost of flights going up, more and more people are looking for ways to save money on their travel.

Here, we’ve collected our top tips for finding cheap flights no matter when you’re planning your trip or how last minute the decision is.

Nothing stated in this blog is to be taken as a direction or recommendation; it is simply an exploration of strategies you can use to find cheaper flights.

Plan ahead!

Despite the fact that plenty of people are flying, flight prices aren’t dropping. In fact, broadly speaking, they are on the rise. As such, you need to know the right places to look. The major airlines are still setting high prices and typically raise them ahead of large events. You should always remember the more lead time, the cheaper the flight.

Compare prices on flight search engines

When planning flights, it can be a great idea to think of yourself as your own travel agent. Take advantage of all the resources available to compare flight prices between different airlines, including airline websites and flight search engines.

For example, taking a look at the Jetstar website, searching for a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane the day after writing this blog, we found the prices varied from $329 to $646. And before you ask, both were economy flights containing a connecting flight in Sydney. The only difference was an extra 75 minutes of waiting time.

With Virgin Australia, we found searching for last minute flights yielded even more varying results. Flights from Melbourne to Sydney for the day after writing this blog varied from $189 to $799. A significant lesson here is how expensive flights can be at the last minute.

It can be worth taking a look at the Flight Deals section on the Qantas website. They keep a running list of deals they are offering, which can be extremely helpful if you’ve made a sudden decision to go on holiday but don’t know where to go.

There are a number of websites out there dedicated to comparing cheap flights from different airlines. These include:

Whilst these can be handy tools, using only one of them can mean you miss a better deal on another site. So always be willing to look in as many places as possible and give yourself the best chance of finding the best deal.

Compare destinations

It’s also a good idea to directly compare the cost of flying to particular destinations. This can be for a place you already have in mind, or who knows, maybe you’ll even go somewhere you hadn’t considered! is a very handy tool for using this technique. You may find that flying into a neighbouring city and then taking ground travel to your final destination saves money and offers even more opportunities for adventure.

Don’t forget the budget airlines

There are a number of budget airlines you can use, including:

But always remember to be vigilant. Read the fine print, ensure you know their cancellation procedures, and research all terms and conditions.

Keep your travel days flexible

Part of uncovering that great deal – especially when it’s last minute – is to be as flexible as possible. Try entering different days when choosing flights to see what happens to the price.

And don’t forget to factor in accommodation! If, for example, there is a particularly good deal on a hotel if you go a day earlier, it is worth taking a look at different flight times. If going a day earlier will save you on accommodation, but makes no difference in flight prices, it might be worth going a day earlier. If you can travel mid-week, rather than on a weekend, for example, you might save lots of money.

Another daring strategy is to simply not lock in your dates and look for last minute deals. There’s no guarantee that better ones will appear, but you may save hundreds if you’re willing to take the chance. As always, when reviewing these deals, consider your options from a realistic perspective with regard to your budget. If that great affordable deal never pops up, you should be okay with postponing your travel.

Consider extra connecting flights

Allowing for extra connections can also significantly lower the overall cost of a flight.  And, if the layovers are longer, you’ve just added another destination to your itinerary! Who knows, you might have some time to explore the local scenery.

Shop for travel packages

Plenty of agencies offer deals, inclusive of not only flights, but also things like accommodation, car hire, and even provide information about the best (and cheapest) things you can do while away.

As much as this technique takes away some of the magic of finding that last minute deal, there’s a good chance it will save you overall, as it provides the opportunity to balance all expense considerations at the same time.

There are also a number of websites where you can find packages that often provide extras. A great website for this is Last Minute.

Collect travel points

Veteran travellers are great at this. People who fly often enough can add up how many flights it takes to gain enough travel points to get a free flight.

If you get a travel rewards card, you can also get rewards for certain types of travel purchases. You will get a certain number of points for every dollar you spend on your travel rewards card, and these add up over time. When you eventually have enough of these points, you can use them to get discounts on flights.

But as mentioned above, you should always read the fine print. Sometimes you may be asked to spend a lot upfront or carry a balance, which may not help you save in the long run. It may also require an unrealistic amount of travel to actually get that “free” flight, so always take time to do the math and consider your budget.

Consider adding insurance

Sometimes we can’t avoid cancellations and sudden changes of plans. Travel insurance can save you money at the back end. While very much a case-by-case consideration, many unforeseen circumstances can lead to necessary changes in your trip, and it is worthwhile giving it some thought.

Still saving for that big trip?

If you need to talk to someone about your financial situation, you can speak to Debt Negotiators today by calling 1300 351 008, or filling out our Contact Form.


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