5 ways to make sure you get the cheapest air/bus/train fare

Getting the cheapest air, bus, or train fare available is important for any budget backpacker when booking transport to their next destination. Cost of transport can often take the biggest bite out of a travellers fund. Its therefore important to be aware of any techniques which may reduce your transportation costs.

Book Online

Everybody should know this by now, but just incase you don’t, booking online as apposed to over the phone or in person is usually cheaper. Sometimes you can save a lot booking online, sometimes just a little, but almost always you will save something by booking online, because the travel company selling you your tickets is not paying for the labour costs of an agent putting the sale through. All you need to is credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard etc) in most cases. It’s that simple.

Check other country websites

When I was looking to book a flight previously from Perth (Australia) to Singapore on Tiger Airlines, I was offered very cheap flights for around 30 AUD at the time. That’s amazingly cheap for a journey that takes approximately 7 hours. Something came up at the time however, and I closed down the page for a few minutes. When I opened the browser back up I accidentally went on the Singapore version of the Tiger Airlines site. It still gave me in English however, so I just went ahead on that version of the site to book my ticket, but from the Singapore site I was offered the price even cheaper, at the equivalent of an amazing 14 AUD! I checked back to the Aussie site, and the 30 AUD price was still showing… for the exact same flight, on the exact same day,same time, same class, same everything! Although in that particular instance the price of the ticket was pretty cheap anyway, ever since I have always made a point to view other country versions of the same site, as in a lot of cases you will find the same journey for a bit cheaper. It’s always worth checking…

Clear your cookies and browser history

Sometimes if you are viewing a site repeatedly, after the first 2 times or so you will find that the price it quoted you on your first visit often goes up. I’m not sure exactly the reason why, but my best guess is that if you keep going back to particular website or typing in a particular journey, then it realises that you are particularly interested in that journey for some reason, and bumps the price up to try get you to pay more. This exact same scenario happened to me recently when I was flicking back and forth between the Euro star site, Euro lines website, and various ferry websites, trying to compare the cost of travel from Edinburgh to mainland Europe. The initial £59.50 I’d been quoted for Euro star went up to £75 in just 5 minutes. Having experienced this situation before however, I cleared my cookies/browser history, went back on to the site and got the cheaper price again which i then purchased. Always clear your cookies and web browser history before booking a ticket somewhere. That way you know you are getting offered the cheapest price available at that time.

Book at unpopular times of the day

I don’t know about anyone else, but usually when I go on to a website to book tickets somewhere, if I do it around lunch time, or during the evening, the price I get quoted always seems to be higher. If I do it early in the morning however, the price always seems to be lower than quoted the evening before. Also, if I am booking on a weekend the price quoted seems to be higher in general. Travel companies are aware of the times most people tend to book their tickets. If the majority of the population work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, then they are going to book their tickets during their breaks, lunch hours, weekends, or in the evening after they’ve got home from work. In the periods where most people are busy at work however, or when most people are asleep at night, prices tend to fall. It’s not always, but generally speaking you will find that this is the case.

Be flexible with your dates, times, and destinations!

Every plane, train, or bus company will at some point have promotional offers on, or deals that you can get if you are travelling at a specific time, or on specific dates, or to specific destinations which are not the most popular. If you don’t have a set plan about where you want to go, then use these to your advantage! For instance, if it’s going to cost you £100 to fly to Paris during the peak summer period, but you can get a flight for £30 to Prague, then why not save £70 and head there instead? Or if you can get cheap rail fare by travelling during off peak times, and you don’t need to be anywhere during peak hours then why not take the saving? The more strict or set your plan is, the more you will probably end up paying because you don’t have any lee-way with dates, times, and destinations. If you are flexible and open to change however, you could really save yourself some money!

9 Responses to “5 ways to make sure you get the cheapest air/bus/train fare”

  1. 1Dad1Kid says:

    Some really good tips here. Thanks!

  2. Good tips! Especially about clearing the cookies. Gotta try that next time…

  3. Kirsty says:

    great tips, I never thought about clearing my cookies… but that has happened to me before, I just thought I was unlucky and booked at the higher price! NOT ANYMORE 🙂

  4. Laurel says:

    I had no idea that clearing your browser history and time of day of booking could influence the rates you were quoted. Great advice – thanks!

  5. Kristin says:

    Great tips – I had no idea about the clearing the cookies/cache would make a difference.

    I’ve also found cheap fares when I would look on the local language version of train sites – it takes a while, but with Google translator and the English version open in another tab, I was able to save almost 50 Euros on a train ticket to Spain.

  6. Laura says:

    I also had no idea that clearing cookies and browser history could make a difference. In the past I’ve just ended up paying the higher price. Good to know. Thanks for the tips! 😉

  7. Ian Martin says:

    Yes i have noticed the same thing about the cookies, but did not know how to cure it, THANKS !
    Tiger Airlines is one of those airlines that charges LOW flight costs but HUGE HUGE “taxes and extras” that eventually end up costing you more. I am sure that the 14$ that you quoted was PLUS tax (100$). I use airlines that have a more honest approach to ticket prices and they are usually cheaper in the end

  8. jane says:

    Glad everyone is finding the cookies tips useful! 🙂

    @Ian The Tiger Airlines flight was only $14 (I think they might have waived the taxes at the time, but it was a few years ago so can’t remember the breakdown), but by the sounds of it they have turned into the equivelent of Ryanair who I actually refuse to travel with because of what is almost false advertising with all their addon fees. Nevertheless, the tip still applies regardless of what airline you’re are flying with…

  9. Alouise says:

    Great tips. Never thought about the cookie thing, but it totally makes sense. I always like to check a few different sites, just to see what the average price would be.

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