5 tricks to getting cheap flights ready for your summer holidays

Aeroplane comes into Bristol airport at sunset
Holidays can be incredibly expensive - so let's talk about how to keep those costs down -Credit:Getty

Desperate to go away this summer but not desperate to break the bank to do so? It may be shaping up to be a roasting summer in the UK, but that doesn't mean that a cheeky trip to a foreign beach would go amiss.

But if you're not an experienced flight booker, then it can feel intimidating knowing what the latest tips and tricks are to getting the most bang for your buck. Now, we won't claim it's an exact science - but allow us to break through some of the online waffle and share just a few hacks for you to try to bring those holiday costs down.

Whether it's choosing the perfect time to book or using the perfect platform to book them on, the tricks here will hopefully save you few bob on your travel bills.

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1. Avoid peak travel periods

Different countries mean different peak travel times. But generally, flying to Europe during the summer months (June, July and August), is almost always more expensive than autumn or winter, reports Conde Nast Traveller.

On the other hand, the Caribbean / Australia / New Zealand fills up with visitors during the colder season. What it comes down to is aim for the offseason when you can for more affordable flights and fewer tourists to battle with at the bar.

2. Utilise technology

Using right app or website could make all the difference when it comes to bagging cheap flights. For example, the Google Flights Explore map lets you see the cheapest place to fly from your airport during your selected dates/date range.

Other ones that have been touted for the best deals include: Expedia; Skyscanner; Cheapflights; KAYAK; Booking.com; First Choice; Hopper and Momondo.

3. Search for fares solo

It's not the best for convenience but searching for a solo seat can save you some serious bank. Conde Nast Traveller reports that due to airlines' automated pricing systems being poorly designed, they will look only for more than one seats of the same price.

Searching by single seat, though, and the system will find that cheaper seat—savings that can really add up when you’re traveling with a group. Many airline agents should be able to help you with this - and travel agents can also do it faster and easier if you're not sure about doing it yourself.

4. Be flexible

When it comes to booking a holiday, most of the time we want to be as prepared as possible. But that isn't always the best thing for our purse.

Experts advise to check see if moving your flight just a day earlier or later will affect the price, or from a nearby airport. For bigger savings, consider being flexible when it comes to destination too.

If your dates are fixed, browse the options on Skyscanner, which allows users to select “explore everywhere” as the destination. Then skim for the best value over a certain timeframe.

Another recommendation is looking at "secondary and tertiary cities”. In Europe, competition with low-cost airlines has allowed secondary cities to become gateways to a destination, for example flying into Porto instead of Lisbon in Portugal.

5. Timing, timing, timing

Unlike the yellow labels at the supermarket, sadly there's no secret time to secure the perfect deal. A 2024 report by Expedia did find that airfare is, on average, the least expensive on Sundays and the most expensive on Fridays) - but it's not that easy.

According to Google Flights, for mid-December trips, it could pay off to wait a little closer to booking, as average prices tended to be lowest 71 days before departure, based on the most recent data. For winter holidays, consider that most airlines release tickets between six - 11 months out, so it's never too early to look for the best deals.

As a rule of thumb, the best prices tend to stop once the flight is less than three weeks out. If it’s 21 days before you plan to travel and you haven’t seen a flight deal to your destination, go ahead and book.

This is because airlines’ automated fare systems are configured to treat later bookings as last-minute business traveller flights and price them accordingly.

Do you have any tips that we've missed? Let us know in the comments below