Fly like a superhero
Step 3 – Flight hacking
Excellent progress my friend.
Now that you know where you want to go, what type of trip you want to do, how long you want to travel for and when your adventure will start, you need to get your tickets.
I usually book a one way ticket and then work my way around once I reach my destination.
Most of the time, I am not sure how many days I want to stay in a specific place, so I plan the first few days, up to a week or so, and then go with the flow. This allows me to have a taste of what the place feels like without restrictions.
If I want to stay more, I simply stay longer. If an opportunity comes and I want to reach the next destination earlier, I just go.
So I would say that my schedules are quite flexible.
Booking a cheap flight
Booking a flight is a science on its own, and it is not only about the price, and the dates, it is about the psychology of the booking system and knowing what you want. I’ll show you what I mean below.
Flights can be some of the most expensive costs of your journey. Especially if you are going overseas. Unless you know how to sail and don’t mind spending the next 40 days in the ocean on a boat, you need to book at least a flight to get to your designated place.
There is so much information out there and everyone I talk to as a different method.
I do things my way, it works for me, and I’ll share it with you. Feel free to follow or skip these tips.
I approach booking a flight like a chess game. I am a player and the airline is the opponent.
Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win, and it is fun for me to “guess” and anticipate the airline’s next move and get around the system, trying to get good prices for my flights.
There is a level of insanity in what I do, but I enjoy it.
It is like a little challenge and it is gratifying to get better at it.
Basic flight booking techniques
Book in advance
The earlier you start shopping around for flights, the better it is.
I don’t believe in last minute deals, because if it is a last minute deal, it is definitely for the airline and not for the passenger.
Like most other things, the price gets higher in times of scarcity.
If there are only a couple of seats on the next flight to Miami leaving tomorrow, guess what? Those tickets are hot.
Stay away from those.
Pretend you are a group
Some airline websites are designed to create a false sense of urgency by making statements such as: “one ticket left”, “45 people are watching the same route”.
In other words, they are tricking you into making an emotional choice rather than a logical one. “Buy now or you will miss out.”
That’s exactly what they are saying and it is a clever marketing and psychological tactic designed to hit the core of your human nature.
You don’t want to miss out, you don’t want to lose, so you buy it, and when you buy it, they’ve won, and you’ve lost.
So, stop getting paranoid and stressed that there are “only 2 tickets left”, and book 10-15 tickets instead.
Pretend you are a group and see if there are REALLY “2 tickets left”. Or if they are just messing with your brain.
If you are right then you’ve won this time; relax a little and make a more informed decision before jumping into an emotional paranoia.
Sign up for airline newsletters to receive deals, special offers, and discounts. You never know when it is the right time to go, so use those little news as a reminder for your next adventure.
Go to the website of the airport of your intended destination and check out the airline companies that fly there. You might find a company that offers better prices for a part of your journey.
Never follow the herd, if everybody goes to Paris for New Year’s eve, wait and go on February when the prices are lower.
Avoid flying during holiday times, it’s never a good deal.
Plus, if the herd books a flight to a famous summer beach destination, you hit the mountain instead. If the herd goes to the mountain, you go to the beach.
Find the road less traveled, it is cheaper and not as busy either.
Check with the airline
If you are using a flight comparison site and you found a good ticket, check the airline website as well and see if you can book the flight directly from them.
Aggregator sites usually add a markup to the price that makes it higher than the price shown on the airline’s website.
Advanced flight booking techniques
Stopovers can save you a lot of money without turning into a nightmare. Sometimes you can’t avoid stopovers unless you’re willing to pay thousands in airfare. Therefore, you may have no interest in, or need for, flight hacking.
Knowing nearby airports that offer cheaper fares is critical.
If you’re using a flight hacking service provider, make sure they know how to factor your transportation costs to the airport in order to ensure you save on all legs of your trip.
Another perk of stopovers is that if the stop is long enough, you can enjoy taking a sneak peak at an extra city.
Go incognito :)
Some airline websites and aggregators can track if you have already been on the site before, and can increase the prices after your first visit.
This is a little clever tactic they use to make you feel like you have already missed out on a great deal and if you keep waiting the price will go even higher.
So you buy it and you lose, again!
Browsing in incognito mode will fix this problem. Take that, airline!
If you are flying to a foreign country, check the difference in price if you’re booking in euros or in dollars for example.
Sometimes it is better to book using your own currency. Other times you can take advantage of the exchange rate and save money by paying in a foreign currency.
Use multiple sites and aggregators to find the best price. Don’t just book the first flight you find. Dig in and look for patterns, for example:
If you are going from Berlin to New York and the flight you found has a stopover in Madrid, can you fly directly from Madrid to New York and find a cheaper ticket from Berlin to Madrid using another airline?
Be smart and don’t settle for what a site offers you.
Once I got a ticket from Sicily (Italy) to New York for 270€!
I had to fly from Italy to Istanbul first.
Even if the journey was a little longer, it was still worth it.
Full month/year schedule
I rarely book a ticket from a website that only shows the price on a specific day.
Since I am not going to a funeral, I don’t need to arrive at my destination on a specific date, so being flexible can be a huge advantage.
Some sites display a one month or even a one year schedule on certain flights. This is where the real fun begins.
Create price alerts so when prices drop to a certain point or if a discounted fare appears for your route, you get an email in your inbox.
Also the full month overview allows you to pick a date that is cheaper.
Usually, weekends and Mondays are the worst time to fly because everybody flies during the weekends and flies back on Mondays/Tuesdays, so your best bet is to fly mid-week.
Smaller is better
Avoid flying to big airports, they are busier and more expensive in terms of fuel and tax charges which are included as an extra on your lovely ticket.
They are also slower when it comes to check ins and security checks because there are way too many people.
Find flights to smaller airports, they are quicker to go through, have less airport taxes, and therefore your ticket price is cheaper and they are as well-connected as the bigger airports.
Just because your final destination is, let’s say, London, it doesn’t mean that you should fly directly there. Can you find a flight to Birmingham and then get a domestic flight from Birmingham to London for a cheaper price? Or, can you reach your final destination by bus/train?
Sometimes, having multiple transportation methods can help you save more money and it can be more fun because you stop at a new place, even for a couple of day, and then continue to your final destination.
Remember, it is not how fast you can get to your destination. The purpose of traveling is to travel, not to arrive.
Superhero flight booking techniques
Make a phone call
It turns out the airlines are actually holding back up to 40 percent of available seats when you book online. Luckily, it’s easier to get around this than you might expect.
Your biggest mistake is in depending entirely on the internet to book your travel and find your seat.
So call the airline company, preferably late at night and not during rush hours, and ask to speak to a supervisor and get the seat you are looking for. :)
Cancel & rebook
Believe it or not, if you book a ticket with most airlines, you can cancel your purchase within 24 hours.
Why would you want to do that?
Because prices might drop the day after you made your purchase.
Airlines regularly change the prices of their tickets up to the day of the flight.
So next time you buy a ticket directly from a major airline (ex. British Airways), make sure you check it a day later (but no more than 24 hours later!) to see if the price has dropped.
If it has…
Cancel your ticket and rebook for the lower price! Just keep in mind that many flight aggregator websites might not have a 24-hour cancellation policy.
Hidden city ticketing
This little trick sounds super mysterious, but it can save you hundreds on airfare.
Here’s a hypothetical situation to show you how it works:
Instead of buying a direct flight from NYC to D.C., you buy one to Raleigh, North Carolina, with a layover in D.C., and just get off there.
You’ll have to fly one-way and you won’t be able to check any luggage either, but you’ll end up saving a ton of money.
This is obviously situational, but you can – at your own peril – book a cheap connecting flight that you’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of making.
Oh, you only have 10 minutes to connect in Philadelphia?
The airline has to reschedule your trip.
If flights aren’t sold out, you can tell the gate agent you won’t make it even before you leave on the first flight, and possibly get rescheduled on a direct flight that would have been much more expensive otherwise.
All in all, be smart, resourceful, and flexible.
Exercise 05: Book the flight
Use the techniques listed in this chapter to help you buy the flight to your destination
Add the flight date to the worksheet as a visual reminder
Add the ticket price to the budget expenses
Objective: The purpose of this exercise is to take real action and show a total commitment to your adventure. As you’ve learnt previously, missing a flight will be very unlikely. So if you book it, you will immediately increase your chances of actually going on your adventure. What was a simple plan it is now a reality.
The next chapter is about understanding and choosing the type of accommodations for your budget.