Many Singaporeans are globetrotters and we all love to travel, to see new places, embrace new experiences and eat good food. Unfortunately, budget is always a constraint.
Be it short trips to neighboring countries or wintry escapades to the North Pole, we have compiled some useful advice on how you to save more while enjoying your trip. The best part about these tips is that they are easy to apply and are proven to keep travelling costs down.
1. Book airplane tickets eight weeks in advance
Getting maximum savings on air tickets is an intriguing modern science. Over the years, data scientists and travel hackers have studied the relationship between days left to flight, and prices of air tickets, forming guidelines on the best travel booking dates.
One such philosophy is the Makoto Watanabe formula. According to economist Watanabe, the optimal time to book the cheapest air tickets is 8 weeks ahead. His calculations are long and complex, and this intimidating formula ∏A = gUG + min(k – g, (1 – g)(1 – r)) where ∏ equals profit, is part of the calculation.
The long and short of it is that outside of the 8 weeks window, airline computers aren’t programmed to give you any discount deals, while within the window, flight prices go up as demand goes up closer towards the flight date.
Clearly, this isn’t a fast-and-hard rule, but the 2 month buffer time is a good rule of thumb to have when you are intending to book. A big mistake that many make is to wait till the last minute to book their flights, thinking that airlines will slash prices and offer last minute deals. Those days are over, as prices tend to rise steeply nearing the flight dates, where business travellers are more willing to pay the premium out of necessity.
2. Book between Tuesday late night and Wednesday early morning (Singapore time)
Another widely tested travel hack suggests that afternoons are a particularly good time of the day to be booking your flights, starting Tuesday afternoons to Thursday afternoons, Eastern Time. Though the theorised reasons behind this are wide and varied, one plausible one is that business travellers tend to book their flights in the morning, with a more price inelastic demand, thus prices can go up much further in the morning. Leisure travellers instead book in the late afternoons, thus prices will dip as their demand is much more price elastic.
As most airline websites run on time-regions opposite of ours, so afternoons in their countries are early mornings for us. Time to strike then.
3. Do your online bookings using Incognito mode so airlines won’t increase prices
Some airlines love to pick up on the browser cookie trail to identify if you have been browsing around for airline tickets and searching for deals. When somebody searches repeatedly for a particular travel route or available deals for that route, airlines identify the user as somebody who “seems to really want a ticket”, and will be more likely to fork out more, thus they jack up the prices of that particular route. Take the safe route out and browse on incognito, just to be safe and avoid the premiums!
4. Use cashback websites to save at online airline sites
Using meta-search sites such as Wego, Skyscanner or Trivago to compare the prices for flights or hotels is a pretty common trick which most will know, but what fewer know is a relatively new online retail model in Singapore which allows online shoppers to get cashback (cash rebates) when shopping online. The cashback model works this way: When shoppers go through cashback sites to shop on online stores such as Expedia, Zuji and so on, the cashback site gets a commission from the online store which it splits with shoppers, giving them rebates for their purchases. Everybody wins in this scenario; online stores get increased traffic, cashback stores get commissions and shoppers get cash rebates.
Though scenarios where everybody wins sounds highly plausible, the cashback model isn’t new. It took off in the States a few years back, and was recently brought over to Singapore by cashback site ShopBack. ShopBack offers a number of travel stores with them such as Expedia, Zuji and Emirates for flights, and Agoda, Expedia and HotelClub for hotels, giving travellers cash rebates for flights and hotels, which can help frequent travellers save hundreds each year easily.
5. Make use of frequent flyer miles
If you are a frequent flier, loyalty does pay off. Choose a frequent flyer miles package that suits your needs. This depends on two key factors:
- Destinations: Which airports do you find yourself travelling between most regularly? If you fly between specific destinations regularly, then pick a frequent flyer program with the airline that offers frequent flights between the places.
- Credit cards: Many credit cards have tie ups with frequent flyer programs, helping you earn points even if you spend and dine locally. Pick a program that ties up with a card you will use frequently, and you will be able to earn miles from your daily purchases.
Just to note though, you won’t be able to get frequent flyer miles on websites like Expedia and Zuji as you’ll have to shop on the airline website directly to earn the miles. This will all boil down to the regularity with which you fly and your airline preference. If you don’t find yourself flying often, Expedia and cashback will be a better bet.
This article was guest contributed by online coupon and cashback site ShopBack Singapore.