Travel broadens the mind. When you travel to different parts of the world you start to realize that the world is a big, big place. You start to realize that you and where your from is quite different from other people and places (yet kinda the same). Since the dawn of globalization, travel costs have been steadily declining with technology making it easier to find cheaper alternatives to travel.
A lot of people are always amazed when I tell them how cheap it is to travel in Europe(I am currently situated in Vancouver). When I tell them how much I pay for flights, they always drop their jaws in amazement and say “Whaaat?”. Even some of my own European counterparts are shocked(although this is becoming rarer with dawn of the recession). This person usually goes on to say how they spend hundreds or thousands on flights for holidays. I don’t understand it but maybe people just don’t know. Regardless I am going to share my experiences with you on how I get cheap flights and cheap holidays. Now the first thing you have to do is remove any preconceived notions you have about certain airlines or airports. Unfortunately, busy airports and terrible airlines have always existed (and always will).
This one seems obvious but I have to stress the point to you. This literally could mean $$$. Book online. It saves you so much trouble. The first thing you have to do in order to get cheap travel is to remove the notion in your head that the airline should fit around your schedule. There are millions of potential customers that book their holidays off work first then try to get the flight for those same weeks. Instead, book the flights first then book your holidays off work. Doing it this way means you are not restricting your flexibility and you have the option of scrolling through different dates and selecting the cheapest one. The majority of airlines now offer booking online and I have had amazing success with this in the last few years. I have been from Dublin to Leeds for under €10(for four days return), to Barcelona for €40(five days return) and from Dublin to Vancouver for €701 (three month return but stayed longer). Simply because I did not restrict myself to a schedule. I booked the flight regardless of any schedule(because if I didn’t snap up these opportunities than I am sure someone else would have).
I am not even a good example. I have talked to people who have travelled around places for half of what I paid. I praise such innovation in people. Such competition between people creates a great rapport. It adds fun to booking holidays and better options for your wallet. Some people are deluded into thinking that paying more means getting more. Well why would you want to fly with a private airline when you can get a budget airline like Ryanair or Easyjet that usually gets you on time for a fraction of the cost.
2: Supply and Demand
Yes there is economics involved in booking cheap flights. Let’s say there are 50 seats on a plane. It is quite logical to assume that they are all the same price. Now when someone buys a seat, there is only 49 left. Since there are fewer seats left that means there is going to be more demand for the remaining seats as well as a higher price. That is simply to do with the economic laws of supply and demand. Always keep this in mind when booking flights that the price you see today will be different tomorrow.
It’s always good to assume the attitude of a businessman(or woman) when flying. Businesses are always trying to cut costs, save time and boost profits(as I am sure anyone who was laid off will tell you). Well why can’t we as individuals be the same. We should always be striving to take advantage of efficiency.
3: Terms and Conditions
The first time you fly with a new airline, it is important to read the terms and conditions with particular attention to the extra charges or fines. Ryanair(the best airline ever) have a reputation for this. All these charges are actually designed to make the airline more efficient and profitable. So yes they overcharge for luggage but that means the plane carries less luggage and there is less security delays and the plane almost always takes off in time. Just because the Terms and Conditions are there to encourage efficiency it does not mean they are not going to be enforced. Nowadays all one has to do is open the terms and conditions in a new window/tab(or download the document) and hit ctrl and F(cmd and F in a mac), type in a keyword or letter and read the context of the keyword. So now computers have given you the an easy way to be familiar with a very laborious document. Use it wisely.
4: Be your own travel agent
I remember once Michael O’Leary said jokingly “All travel agents should be lined up against a wall and shot”. He is a particularly outspoken individual but many felt this was too far(even though it was just regular Irish humor). What O’Leary was suggesting was that many of the individuals are exploited by the middleman. I can tell you that if you book the flights yourself, book the accommodation yourself and everything else, you will save a ton of money and time. The internet has allowed us to cut out the middlemen but many people still turn to them as if they have some inspirational short-cut through the system. Somehow, I doubt it. Save yourself the money and just do everything yourself. There is only three things you need to figure out, getting there, staying there and getting around while you’re there (maybe travel insurance also).
5: Don’t just think airlines
There is also cars, inter-continental trains, boats, cruise ships and if you’re lucky submarines and rockets. Hopefully soon we will have teleportation or at least travel at light speed.
6: Take what you need not what you want
Take the bare minimum when travelling. Nothing worse than dragging a suitcase full to the brim with clothes and trinkets only to be going on holiday for 3 days. Instead of thinking what you need to bring, think exactly what you can cut out! I used to fall into this trap a lot. I would want to pack my bag with books, handheld console(as well as games), dozens of socks, underwear, swimming trunks and many changes of clothes. I only noticed after many years that this was pointless as half this stuff was never used. So I was carrying around baggage for no reason whatsoever. The power of hindsight never ceases to amaze me. Carrying less means less cost. It also has the added ability of more mobility and a lighter load while walking around the airport..
“Instead of thinking what you need to bring, think exactly what you can cut out”
7: Making the most of it
Remember how I told you that I would bring a lot of luggage while travelling. Well I used to never want to explore either. I would grab a book or grab Game boy and sit in a corner. I regret those actions now but I wish I never had to regret them in the first place. When I come home from holiday, I want to be able to tell people about everything I did(it’s the vanity in me). Nothing sounds worse when your friends come back from holiday and all they have to say is “laid on beach to get a tan”. Although I have no problem with this, I just couldn’t imagine myself doing it. Remember this is your holiday not someone else’s. Do it whatever you(and your family) want and not on someone else’s timetable. Be ready to grab a good opportunity when you see it. Don’t miss a wonderful opportunity to explore a new part of the world simply because you had made an excuse.