My first long term travel to Europe involved a lot of flights and booking them was the most stressful part I went through while preparing for the trip. Without flight tickets one cannot apply for visa and google is filled with visa rejection experiences in spite of travelers having tickets and booking done. Inevitably one gets jittery thinking what will happen to the flight costs if the visa gets cancelled, as often cheap flights are non-refundable or cancellation charges after 1 week is very high. In my case it was not about a single round-trip, but about back to back trips for a continuous trail of almost 8 European cities. Need-less-to-say, I was extremely apprehensive and I clearly remember, buying the first ticket was the most difficult. But that was before my travel. Post my actual travel experience, I cannot explain how much confidence I have gained regarding these commitments. My previous itch of “so many things can go wrong on the way!” has subsided absolutely as I have faced issues and now know how to handle them. So my first suggestion will be, to keep calm and do it.
Next dilemma comes in figuring out the best price and self-predicting flight-cost trends. We often hold off on buying assuming that the price will go down further if we wait- that hardly ever works. Here is nothing called the perfect moment. There is huge probability of you losing out. So if you have made up you mind to travel, there is no better day than Today. If the price is within your budget, go for it and unless you have a free cancellation full refund policy for the next few days, do not go and check price trend after you have bought the ticket. It is like discussing problem answers once your math test is over.
Rather, we can follow some structured steps in booking flight and feel good about trying our best.
Check for flight deals from Fly4Free and similar websites, look for airline promotional and those rare seasonal deals. In 95 out of 100 cases, you re-route empty-handed. Now let the usual drill begin. Suppose you have planned to travel abroad in your year end vacation. Do not fix a specific destination for the time being. Open SkyScanner . Enter your entire country name, say India as “From” field. We are just relaxing parameters friends. Then put your destination as “Everywhere” and one way. Yeah that is when you should feel the high of a globetrotter. Keep your eyes open to go anywhere in this beautiful world. When you hit search you see a list of of minimum priced flight options in ascending order of price showing as below:
From the available list make a suitable choice. Really if you are not an avid traveler already, all these places will be new and exciting to you and the list doesn’t end with the screen shot, it goes on, so to view full list make a search on your own.
Expand one , say France, your destination of choice, it will open to show you the list of all cities in ascending order of flight cost.
Paris being the capital city and a hub, will definitely be your choice to land in France and it will almost always be the cheapest. Click on the “green button”. Now you will see the list if Indian cities from where you can start, again in ascending order of flight cost:
Make your trade off to select the source city as per cost and your convenience and you are done.
There will be an option to select “Direct” only flights at every step, which will eliminate the 1 stop options, but in most cases you will find paying 1-3K INR extra will land you a direct flight. Try not to choose 2-stop flights as they can be really hectic at times.
Also you can hit the same searches in another website called Momondo (http://www.momondo.in/ ). Often Momondo prices some flights cheaper than Skyscanner and both of these are pretty reliable.
As a final and more advanced step, you can visit Google flights to search some handy regional fares. For example if I’m flying to Athens, I will see which other nearby airports I can land at a cheaper price. It may be cheaper to get down at Paris and take a very cheap connecting flight to Athens. You will here end up booking two different tickets on two different airlines, but it can save you as much as 3 to 4 thousand rupees. In these kind of detours if your flight gap is huge you can even hop around another country and enjoy a day there as for many European countries one Schengen visa is valid anyway!
After you have done all of these and rounded up everything, you should find yourself spending maximum 45 minutes in research. If you are spending hours and hours in booking flight, you are probably not doing it right and frustrating yourself unnecessarily. This entire process took me 45 minutes and after that I went back to watching “Game of Thrones” on Hotstar. Never punish yourself in making second-guesses about flight prices, you will go nuts. Spend this reasonable amount of time in booking a cheap flight, that you are okay paying for. Otherwise shift your destination and move on with life.