Before the age of 19, the furthest I'd travelled too was to Spain for a couple of family holidays. I'd never really given much thought to the idea of travelling... that was until a friend approached me in second year of university with the opportunity of going to Malawi for 6-weeks in the summer to teach and travel with a charity organisation. This first trip was incredibly eye-opening, I'd never experienced anything like it. I have so many memories (some good, some bad) from this trip and I still recall them to this day, but what I had discovered was a true and unwavering passion for travel.

Since this trip to Malawi, I have now visited a total of 28 countries and been to 4 continents. The more I travelled, the more I started to gain more confidence with planning trips and navigating countries, especially on a shoe-string budget. I started to book a different country to travel too for 6 weeks during the summer holidays at university, then this increased to a couple of new countries each year and now, it's so engrained in my life, that I can't imagine not travelling.

Whilst at university, I worked in a part-time minimum wage customer service job and I meticulously saved and budgeted to be able to afford to travel. I then scoured the internet to find cheap flights and travelled on a budget. I believe that travelling is accessible to anyone but the key to this is to be flexible, don't pick one particular destination or set dates and create a savings tracker/plan to help you achieve your goal.

Here's how you can find cheap flights and go on your own adventure!...

Here's my 5 top tips to finding and booking cheap flights:

1. Use a flight comparison website

I swear by a flight comparison website and my go-to is and always will be Skyscanner. I will do an in-depth blog post soon about my exact strategy on how I find cheap flights on Skyscanner.

Skyscanner basically does all the hard work for you. They search through all the Online Travel Agents (OTAs) for their best prices for the flight(s) you've just searched for and then, give that information back to you. I've found Skyscanner to be much cheaper than going direct to the airline, 99.9% of the time. Skyscanner isn't just for finding cheap flights, you can also use it for finding car rentals and hotels. However, I have only used it for finding flights.

Another flight comparison website you can use is Google Flights. However, I've not personally found much success with it in comparison to Skyscanner. It's useful for being able to search an entire continent e.g. Europe and search for 2-week return trip in a whole month rather than specific dates. It definitely allows you to be more flexible with your travel destinations and dates, which is what I'm just able to go onto in this blog post and are both very important points for finding cheap flights.

2. Be flexible with your travel destinations

Don't settle on one specific location that you want to go too. Try and be flexible with your travel destinations. Even if it's writing a list of 5 countries you would like to visit and then, narrowing it down once you've looked on the flight comparison websites.

So how can you be flexible with your travel destinations on flight comparison websites?... On Skyscanner, you can actually choose to search for flights to "everywhere". Instead of them giving you results for flights to a specific destination, they will instead give you a list of possible countries that you could travel too. This allows you to see where would be cheaper to go. You can also do the same on Google Flights and search for flights to an entire continent.

3. Be flexible with your travel dates

Try to be flexible with your travel dates and avoid peak times. Airlines aren’t stupid and they know exactly when festivals and events are in your chosen travel destination, they also know when school holidays are or when the peak season is, so it makes sense that around these periods, airlines drastically put up their prices. If at all possible, try and travel out with these times. You're much more likely to find cheap flights in November than in the height of summer.

So how can you be flexible with your travel dates on flight comparison websites?... On Skyscanner, you can actually choose to search for flights over a whole month. Instead of putting in specific dates e.g. 2nd July and returning on the 18th July, you can search flights for the whole month of July to find cheaper times to travel. Skyscanner used to have a really handy feature in which you could search the whole year for the cheapest flights. They have removed this feature, but I have read that they are intending to bring it back at some point in the future. Fingers crossed! You can also be flexible with your travel dates on Google Flights, it's not as good as Skyscanner as the maximum you can search for is for 2-weeks in a month rather than a whole month.

4. Consider a stop-over

Flying direct to your destination can be very expensive. If this is the case, you might want to consider a stop-over. In fact, some of the cheapest flights I’ve found include a stop-over in another destination. Also, if it’s a long stop-over, you can leave the airport and use your time to explore this new destination too. I recently booked a £47 flight from Edinburgh to Jordan and it included a 20 hour stop-over in Warsaw, I’ve never been there so I left the airport, went into the city centre and managed to join a free walking tour, allowing me to see a bit of this city.

5. Fly with a budget airline

Fly with budget airlines like Ryanair or EasyJet. You can avoid their additional charges too by packing light and checking-in before you get to the airport, keeping your flight nice and cheap! I fly with Ryanair quite often. It was actually Ryanair that I flew with from Edinburgh to Jordan (with a stop-over in Warsaw) and I took a small backpack with me, keeping the cost at a total of £47. I've also used Ryanair to fly from Edinburgh to Brussels and the return flight ticket cost me £31. You can find some great deals!

Sometimes if you’re lucky, you’ll find flights at an extremely low price due to an error/fluke. I’ve only managed this a couple of times (including a flight from Edinburgh to Quito in Ecuador and return flight from Lima in Peru back to Edinburgh for £488), but if you do find them it’s a good idea to book them quickly.
Arrivals and departures
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM / Unsplash

FREE savings tracker/plan to help you meet your savings goal

A major part of travelling on a budget is making sure that you have a savings goal and have planned how to achieve this goal. Work out how much you need to save for the trip (do research for this, look at how much the flights cost, watch YouTube videos or read other peoples posts who have travelled to that country), then work out how much you'll need to save per month to meet this goal and what your deadline is.

To get access to the FREE savings tracker, you'll need to subscribe to my blog. Then just sign in and you should be able to see the savings tracker, just past this point in the blog.

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