One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do you afford to travel on a student budget?” – aside from saving I have four rules which I try to stick by and I thought I’d share them with you.
Earn and Use Frequent Flier Points
This is my number one tip if you want to get cheap flights and how I manage to fly (almost) free on every long-haul flight that I take. I chose to become a Qantas Frequent Flier because I fly with them throughout Australia and with Cathay Pacific – one of their One World partners – whilst abroad. They also offer me airline choices across Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East making them the perfect choice to really get value for my flights.
Qantas have also built relationships with some of the companies I use most and offer me points for buying with them of paying my bills. For example; my phone is through Optus and I do the bulk of my food shopping at Woolworth – both options to get extra points to help reach my goal. I also choose hotels which earn me points for staying with them, which all add up.
There are several credit cards on the market that are geared primarily towards travelers, offering points and travel rewards just for using their service. Naturally, the larger amounts of points are going to come with larger purchases. Armed with the right tax calculators and estimators, it wouldn’t be unheard of to pay your yearly taxes with such a card. The same could be said for car payments, monthly bills, etc
Travel During the Off-Peak Season
It sounds simple but so many travellers forget this when booking – avoid holiday periods, including school holidays, as well as major and regional holidays – if you want to get get the best bang for your buck and book during the off-peak season.
Whilst I travelled to Hong Kong over the Christmas period I made up for the extra cash that I had to spend by then travelling to China and South Korea during off-peak season resulting in hundreds of dollars of savings on flights and hotels, and best of all – the queues at major attractions were short and had off-season prices applied. It was winter so a little bit colder and with snowflakes falling, but it was a different take on both cities that not as many travellers get to experience, and made it easier to avoid the tourist crowds and feel more like a local.
Know Airline Hub that
Even if you do collect frequent flier miles or manage to find cheap flights during the off-peak season this won’t mean much if you’re always looking for direct flights. If you know your airline hubs you can save big money and even enjoy a stop-over in a city for a ‘taster’.
Look into options like Hong Kong (Cathay), Dubai (Emirates), or save money by flying to Hawaii on your way to Los Angeles (Hawaiian Airlines) – most countries have a national carrier so your stopover could be anywhere. You just need to do the research to find where the best savings are!
Do Your Research Using Booking Agents… Then Book Direct
I love the ease of use that booking search engines such as FirstChoice offer but did you know that you can save even more money on they flights that they quote? After booking all of my flights for my Asia jaunt earlier this year I discovered that I could save an extra $10 – $20 per flight if I booked direct through the airlines which offered the lowest price, instead of through the site they recommended.
Sure $10 – $20 doesn’t sound like a lot but when you have 8 flights that’s between $80 – $160 and can mean the choice between extending your trip, taking that tour or buying that keepsake you wanted and it only takes a few extra minutes of your time to save big!
Now it’s over to you: