It is that time of the year again, where thousands of you are going off for the best 6 months of your lives; to experience different cultures and travel carefree (with a frozen CAP)! At this point, I am sure you have all experienced the laborious process of repeatedly trying to book the cheapest possible flight to your exchange destination. Yes, it is overwhelming! So let us help you start your adventure on the right note, here are some key tips that will save you time, frustration and most importantly- MONEY!! Here we go!
- Be on stealth mode
Flight prices will increase when a particular route is searched repeatedly! You are not overthinking at all, this happens! Based on the cookies in your browser, you are going to see the price hike every other time you search for tickets to your exchange destination because sites want to scare you into booking your flights immediately! How unscrupulous!
So, always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to navigate for the cheapest available flights!
Also, your cookies will reset each time you re-open a new incognito window so remember to always close all your incognito windows and open a new one before starting to search again! Don’t let the cookies take those extra bucks even before you fly for your exchange! Use those pennies to munch on them real cookies abroad!
To activate incognito for Google Chrome or Safari, hit:
- Command (or ‘Control’ if using PC), Shift. “N”.
To activate incognito for Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit:
- Command (or ‘Control’ if using PC), Shift, “P”.
If you are using an old version of OS X:
- Open Safari, then click on ‘Safari’ in the menu bar and then select “Private Browsing”
- Use Exchangebuddy certified flight search engines
Just as any other business, search engines inflate prices so as to get a small cut from the airlines. We realised that some search engines such as Expedia frequently inflate higher than others! So our team here at Exchangebuddy did our research and came up with a list of flight search engines that will save you some money!
- Skyscanner (Our Founder- Eugene’s number 1 choice; insider info says that he uses this to book his flights for business trips)
- AirFare Watchdog
- As their name suggest, these watchdogs are man’s best friend
- They are great when it comes to stalking for mistakes and sale pricing. Airlines sometimes make mistakes when they post their fares, this could be due to currency conversion mishaps etc. So, take full advantage and book them at super duper low prices! You never know!!
- This could be better if searching for budget airlines
- STA Travel
- The Blue Ticket will get students and those under 31 years of age exclusive airfares! With this, you will be able to enjoy cheaper flights and they are flexible with you changing dates! However, the benefits are only valid for in-store booking.
But of course, there is no best search engine that consistently give you the cheapest flights every single time! So do use a combination of a few!
- Find out when is the cheapest day to fly
Many travel blogs or influencers may say that booking a flight in a Tuesday would be the best to save money, but there isn’t a real proven theory on this! Most of the time though, according to the analytics team at Exchangebuddy, it is cheaper to fly out on a weekday. Hence, we suggest that you get a quick idea of the prices for the entire month! Try this:
Step 1: Go onto the Skyscanner website
Step 2: Enter your possible departure and arrival city
Step 3: Select “one-way” (just to check the cheapest day to fly out; we know that students usually book for round-trip)
Step 4: Go to ‘depart’, BUT, instead of entering the specific date, select the “Whole Month” and then hit “Cheapest Month”. Lastly, hit “Search flights” and you can now see which date is the cheapest to get you butt out of here!
Repeat these steps for your potential return dates! You could definitely still book round tickets! These steps will just give you a good sense of which dates are relatively cheaper to fly out.
- Splitting your flights may save you a bunch of money, and give you a lifetime of memories
If you are flying somewhere that involves a transfer, for example flying to Singapore to LA- which typically involves stopping over at Hong Kong or Japan; consider booking this 2 legs separately! We suggest however, not to book tight layovers! A slight delay may make you miss your next flight entirely!
This method however, are for those who aren’t exactly in a rush and might want to create an additional destination of a few days, before catching their next flight!
So first, look to take budget airlines to the country you are first headed to. For instance, a budget plane to Hong Kong (before headed to LA for your exchange). You could fly Scoot, Jetstar etc. Do your research! Then, book your flight from Hong Kong to LA. (Will not suggest taking budget airlines for the longer flight, perhaps a flight with food on-board may be a good idea!)
Hence, rather than spending hours in the airport waiting for the connecting flight, spend a couple of days exploring another country before flying off for your exchange! In this case, AirWander.com specialises in this, giving you a list of places you could explore for your stopover and even suggesting a cheaper flight to your final destination!
Alternatively, use Kiwi.com. You may not want to layover a few days and still want the cheapest option! This site mixes and matches airlines in order to find the cheapest prices, and this includes budget airlines! Hence, they will provide you the cheapest route to your destination. For long flights especially, this could save you big bucks! Of course, you may be afraid that a delay to your first flight may cause you to miss the next one, but Kiwi.com offers their own guarantee. This covers schedule change, flight delays and even cancellations. All you have to do, is to contact Kiwi.com as soon as you know about the delay. Their team will provide an alternative connecting flight, or a full refund- depending on what you want! Our team hasn’t tried this guarantee yet, so do let us know if you have tried this before!!
- Buy flights in bulk
Buy more and get them cheaper! Of course, this only works if they are with the same airlines or in the same alliance (eg: Star Alliance). So, find out who is going to the same country for exchange as you and book together!! You can do so by joining this exclusive group on Facebook!
- Be smart with the payment
Sometimes, it is cheaper to pay in other currencies. So before booking a flight, do consider paying in another currency. Another important thing to take note is to make sure you are paying with a credit card that is free of foreign- transaction fees! After going through so many steps to ensure you get the cheapest rates, we must not make a mistake at the very last stage! Remember, finish strong!
Also, don’t forget the flight points or Air Miles that you have accumulated from the past! Use them now and save more!
- Don’t wait, book now!
If you already got your offer and know exactly where you are going and know when exactly school starts, BOOK YOUR TICKETS ALREADY! It is rare that airline tickets get cheaper as your departure date nears so do plan to book them early. If you already have the right details, don’t wait on an unknown sale because more often than not, your biggest savings come from booking way ahead of your departure date!
With this guide, our team at Exchangebuddy wishes everyone going on exchange the best of luck! Cherish your time overseas and step out of your comfort zone. It is going to be amazing! Do find more useful articles that will help you with your exchange on our website, or ask your question on our QnA section and we will definitely be there to help, because we are your, exchangebuddy.