How To Plan Your Europe/Round-The-World Trip On A Budget – Part 1: The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Flying

So you’ve decided to take the plunge after months of dreaming/consideration/pondering – You’re going to embark on the trip of a lifetime. Great! Now that you’ve taken the first step, let’s move on to the next – Planning. The first step is the hardest but planning your trip is no piece of cake either. Here’s a guide to help you plan for your next trip at the lowest prices available.

*The following guide isn’t solely specific to Europe but pretty much anywhere you intend to travel actually*

This how-to guide is going to be pretty lengthy so for easy reading, I’ll be segregating it into multiple parts; each focusing on a specific aspect of planning.  Let’s kick things off with the first part of planning: Flights!


FLIGHTS

First up is the essential plane ticket. You should book this first before making plans for the rest of the trip. Take note of the following tips to get the cheapest flight available:

  1. Book your plane tickets at least a month in advance. Ideally start checking ticket prices 2 months beforehand.
  2. Be flexible with dates & times
  3. Weekday flights at odd timings (Late evenings/night & morning departures) are generally the cheapest. Tuesday is a good bet for cheap flights.
  4. For longer haul flights, indirect routes with stopovers are cheaper. The longer the journey, the cheaper the flight. Take this opportunity to visit more countries!
  5. Remember to clear your cache/history/cookies when revisiting an airline website. Airlines are known to jack up the price if you visit multiple times to pressure you into purchasing the ticket.

For Point to Point Tickets

Skyscanner

Skyscanner

My go-to website for booking flights. Skyscanner lists flights from most airlines including budget airlines. A user-friendly interface makes searching for flights much easier.

The engine allows you to search with a variety of filters such as Departure/Arrival Times, Price, Airline, class, direct/indirect etc. Don’t know when you want to travel just yet? Would you like to see the cheapest fare within a certain time frame? Search according to month,week or even the year! You can even sign up for a price alert to keep you informed of changes in prices for a particular itinerary.

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Once you’ve selected a particular flight, proceed to one of the numerous travel agents listed or the airline’s website to complete your booking. Personally, I’d recommend booking on the airline’s website itself. It’s less complicated when something goes wrong with your booking/travel plans.

Besides flights, Skyscanner also allows you to search for hotels and car rentals. Best part about Skyscanner is – IT’S COMPLETELY FREE!

Cons: Multi-City flight itineraries are not supported

 STA Travel

STA

I usually stay away from travel agencies but STA Travel is one of the few exceptions. They offer flights at discounted student/youth fares from selected airlines. If you’re a student or Under 31, booking your flight through STA Travel will save you a decent amount of cash!

Cons: Booking isn’t instantaneous. You’ll have to go through an agent or email the agency for a finalized quote. Also, the range of airlines on  offer for discounted flights is pretty limited. But Beggars can’t be choosers right ?!


Which airline?

With the multitude of airlines in the market, which airline should you fly with?

Choice Airline: Emirates

Read my post on why you should Fly Emirates


For Multi-Stop Tickets

Travelling across more than one continent? The following websites will ensure your Round-The-World Trip flights are hassle free!

Indie

Indie

A real time airfare search engine which accommodates multi-stop itineraries. You’ll be able to get a price on your itinerary instantly.

Cons: Creating an account is necessary to use Indie

Airtreks

Airtreks

Your personalized flight specialist.  Airtreks isn’t a search engine but an actual flight agency specializing in Round-The-World Tickets.  Airtreks will customize a flight itinerary which accommodates your preferences down to the finest details at the cheapest price available. More legroom? Window Seat? Stopovers? Meal Preferences? All not a problem! Most of the time these preferences are accommodated  at no/minimal added cost.

What separates Airtreks from the rest is its top-notch customer service. Once you’ve submitted an itinerary, an airfare specialist will contact you within a day. After taking into account your preferences, a quote will be ready within 24 hours!

Unlike other companies where customer service is non-existent after purchase, Airtreks is there for you throughout your trip.  Change your flight dates? Refunds for a cancelled flight? Flight schedule changes? Reconfirming your flight schedule? Routing changes? Airtreks handles all the above at no/minimal cost, keeping you informed every step of the way.  Did I mention bookings from the U.S  receive free travel insurance when booking with Airtreks?

Cons: Budget airlines are seldom included in the customized itineraries. You could try requesting including it through your airfare specialist though.


Budget Airlines

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The budget aviation industry has exploded in recent years. Good news for budget travellers! More routes and airlines at cheaper prices!

Europe & Middle East:

Ryanair

EasyJet

Pegasus

Wizzair

Vueling

Smartwings

Transavia

Asia:

Airasia

Tigerair

Jetstar

Scoot

Americas:

JetBlue

*There are many other budget airlines not listed above. These airlines were selected based on consistently cheap fares & the number of routes offered. Compare with Skyscanner for the cheapest fares from all airlines*


Region-Specific Flights

Travelling to Scandinavia?

Visit the Fjords in Norway
Visit the Fjords in Norway

Norwegian Air

Consistent low fares from Bangkok to Scandinavia  starting from $424 return!

Travelling across the Atlantic?

RouteMap_LHR-JFK_468x163

WOW Air

Flights from Europe to USA vice versa from as little as $128 one-way

Norwegian Air

Flights from Europe to USA vice versa return under $600


Always remember to compare prices displayed on Skyscanner/Indie/Airtreks with individual airline’s websites. Promotions and sale fares are generally not displayed or taken into account by 3rd party flight resources.  Sometimes buying direct from the airline may be the cheapest option! Subscribe to newsletters from various airlines so that you’ll be informed of the latest deals and promotions.

That’s about all  you need to plan the flight portion of your trip! If anyone thinks a particular website/company/airline should be added to the list, please let me know by dropping a comment and I’ll update it.

Next up in Part II of How To Plan Your Europe/Round-The-World-Trip On A Budget Guide we examine another key aspect of travel planning – Accommodation. Stay tuned!

*All Prices are in SGD*

Solo Traveller


Photo Credits:

All pictures relating to websites linked in the blog belong to Indie, STA Travel, Airtreks & Skyscanner respectively

Featured Image taken from http://suzyguese.com/avoiding-bankruptcy-when-shopping-for-a-summer-flight-to-europe/

“Cheap Flights Ahead” taken from http://www.eturbonews.com/40789/taiwan-launch-two-new-budget-airlines-2014

“Norwegian Fjord” taken from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924080511.htm

“New York to Heathrow” taken from http://www.heathrowairport.com/plan-and-book-your-trip/latest-destinations/heathrow-to-the-usa/flights-to-new-york/ba117

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