For the past year, I have had 27 flights all around Europe. I have visited seven countries and had flown from 10 different airports. For 365 days, I almost got kidnapped, almost missed 3 of my flights because of my distraction and almost got arrested. Despite all those stories that now I can tell to my grandchildren, I have learned how to get the cheapest possible flights in Europe.
Originally I’m from Bulgaria. I was studying in Eindhoven – the Netherlands, and I wanted to be with my family for Christmas. Most of my fellow Bulgarian college friends bought tickets back home with the lowest price starting at €250. Being a student in a foreign country and having to pay such a huge price for a flight might easily break the bank and leave you only on rice and water for the rest of the month. However, I was following my three steps and I got my two-way ticket for only €87.
Those are the three steps that I helped me save €160 for one flight:
1. Find when the flight tickets will be at their cheapest price.
One of the most common rules is to NOT buy the ticket at the very last moment. The problem here is that it is almost unpredictable when the prices are going to be at their lowest point to buy the boarding pass. Depending on the time of the year, the best possible moment could be between 30 to 90 days before the departure.
How can we know when to buy the ticket?
Here comes Hopper. Hopper is an app that extracts the data from the airlines for the previous years, analyses it and makes an assumption on when will be the best possible time to get the cheapest flight ticket for your desire destination. You can set a tracker, so the application starts sending you notifications once the time for purchase comes. It is very intuitive and user friendly.
2. Find the cheapest possible airline and course.
Once the perfect time for buying the boarding pass comes, it is time to find the cheapest possible airline and route. For this purpose, I’m using Kiwi.com. Kiwi is a website that goes through all possible flights, combines them, structures them and gives you all the results.
One of the times that I wanted to travel back home. I found a way to connect 2 flights for €62 total. First was from Brussels to Milan with Wizair and from Milan to Sofia with Raynair. The second cheapest flight was direct to Sofia for €150. The difference is not small. Yes, there is indeed a risk to miss the second flight and to become homeless in Milan for the rest of your life. But still… Imagine the amount of money that I have saved only by using those two steps.
3. DON’T use airlines’ currency exchange!
The most recent hack that I found is that all the airlines are using their currency exchange rate. For example, 1 flight in Bulgarian lev in Wizzair might be 249.99BGN which is €127.81. All good for now. The problem comes once we change the currency on the website. Once it gets changed in the Euro, the price becomes €141.87. Cases like this might give you a difference in the price of up to 70 Euros per flight. I believe that you would not want to pay €70 extra, just for currency exchange, would you?
To save that € 70m, I’m using iCard. iCard is a financial institution that is very similar to your normal physical bank. One of the main difference is that it is only on your phone and most of the taxes for maintaining your accounts are missing. By using them for a year and a half, I have not paid a single euro for airline currency exchange fees. I have two accounts in different currencies, two virtual cards for online payments and many many more extras. I’m using my Euro account when I make purchases so I can avoid problems like the given above.
Once we do the math, it appears that for 27 flights I have saved a bit more than €4 300. Amount that could have easily dissuade me from travelling.
Now that I have shared my tree step guide on saving money while travelling, I would be interested in knowing if this was helpful and whether you have anything else that I should know to help me save money even further in my future trips.!0