Sydney’s Guide to Cheap Flights
Sydney Sees the World contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I’ll receive a commission at no cost to you!
One of my favorite things to do while I’m trying to pass time is search for flights: sometimes they’re for myself, sometimes they’re for others, and sometimes it’s just me dreaming of dropping everything and flying to one of my dream destinations. I’m constantly getting questions from friends and family asking for help finding flights, and I can almost always help them find something for WAY cheaper than what they found. Want to hear about how I flew roundtrip to London from my small regional airport for $400? Or how I flew to San Francisco roundtrip for $12? Keep reading!
Utilize Sites Like Google Flights and Momondo
If I’m searching for a flight, the first place I go is Google Flights, which offers a handy-dandy calendar tool to search for the cheapest dates for your destination. You can also search from nearby airports, which is super helpful if you have multiple convenient home airports like I do. Sometimes flight prices are hundreds of dollars cheaper from one airport compared to another, so this is a feature I use a lot! If you don’t have a particular destination in mind, you can also search with the built-in map feature.
Another thing that I like about Google Flights is that it searches almost all major airlines and while keeping a sleek interface. Google Flights is how I helped a friend get a flight to Santiago, Chile for $650, while he was looking at specific airline sites and finding prices upwards of $1000.
Once you’ve found the cheapest dates for your destination, you can either have Google Flights direct you to the airline’s website (or a major third-party booking site like Orbitz) to book there, or head over to another flight search engine: Momondo. Momondo is similar to Google Flights in that it searches multiple airlines for flights; however, sometimes the flights can be much cheaper on Momondo. Sometimes the price difference is $20, while sometimes its a few hundred dollars. This is because Momondo also searches smaller third-party booking sites, which will often have prices that can’t be found on the airline sites. Keep in mind however that these sites often don’t have the best customer service, so make sure to read the terms and conditions before booking. If the price difference on Momondo is small compared to booking direct, I’ll usually book direct just for the better customer service experience.
Sign Up for Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights is hands-down my favorite resource for cheap flights. This newsletter has a free and a paid option, and I highly recommend the paid one. For an annual fee of $39, you’ll receive even more (and often better) deals than the free subscribers. You’ll also receive the deals before free subscribers, which is key for the rare mistake deals (like Dallas-Melbourne, Australia for just $120 roundtrip!) that disappear pretty soon.
Thanks to Scott’s Cheap Flights, I’ve booked roundtrip flights from my small regional airport to London for $400, and to Amsterdam for $350. You can choose departure airports to receive deals from, but keep in mind that major airports (JFK/LGA/EWR, SFO, LAX, MIA, etc.) typically have the most deals. I have my preferences set to receive all deals, in case too-good-to-be-true deals come up (like that $120 to Australia) where it would still be a great deal, even for me to fly/drive to the departure city.
Get a Credit Card with a Good Sign-On Bonus
Just a disclaimer: if you get a credit card, use it responsibly. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a college student working part-time and living off of my scholarship refund checks, so I totally use my credit cards more than I should. I still try to keep some self control though and only use it on things I need. Like traveling 😉
About a year ago, I applied for my first credit card: the Delta Gold American Express card ($95 annual fee). I got a great sign-on bonus of 60,000 SkyMiles after spending $1000 in three months, in addition to benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding. I was planning on studying abroad in Ecuador, which had a $1200 program fee. After paying the program fee, I got my 60,000 miles. I opted to redeem some of my miles for my flight to Quito with the Miles + Cash option, where you pay for part of your flight with miles and part of it with cash. I paid $380 plus 35,000 miles, which was much better than the cash price of nearly $1000. (Note: use my link to apply for the Delta Gold AMEX and get 50,000 miles after spending $2000 in your first 3 months!)
A few months later, when my friend invited me to visit him in San Francisco for the weekend, I was able to get a roundtrip flight for just 22,000 miles, plus $12 in taxes. Combined with free accommodations from staying with my friend, this trip was nearly free except for food and souvenirs.
Recently, I got the Delta Platinum American Express card ($195 annual fee). This card has some of the same benefits of the gold card, like free checked bags and priority boarding, as well as a companion pass after your first year of membership. I just met the minimum spend of $3000, earning me 70,000 more Skymiles. I now have over 100,000 SkyMiles, and if I play my cards right, this could get me two round-trip tickets to an international destination like Paris!
These minimum spend amounts may seem difficult to reach, especially as a college student, but it’s totally doable if you put everything on the card and pay it off as you go. I’ve been paying all my bills, as well as some of my parents’ bills with the card, and I’m already dreaming of where I’m going to go with my miles! These are the only two travel credit cards I have so far, but I look forward to getting more when I get my first big-girl job to maximize the number of free flights I can get! (Note: use my link to apply for the Delta Platinum AMEX and get 70,000 miles after spending $3000 in your first 3 months!)
Do you have any tips or tricks to save money on flights or other travel expenses?
Let me know in the comments!