You visit your favourite travel deal website or check your emails, and the words ‘ERROR FARE’ or ‘FLIGHT DEAL’ pop up on your screen. All of a sudden, your mind starts racing with excitement like:
You check your bank account, call friends to see if they’re down to join, figure out if you can get time off work, and next thing you know you’ve secured your crazy bargain to another country. Sound familiar?
We all love cheap flights and it’s pretty awesome to visit another country for just a fraction of the cost. In our quest to get more passport stamps, cheap deals are essential.
But sometimes you need to pull your rational self back down to earth and figure out if the trip will be more of a hassle than an enjoyable experience. Make sure to consider these 8 questions to avoid making a poor decision when booking a flight deal:
1. Did you check the weather?
Some countries may be sunny all year round, but unfortunately others can be gloomy AF. Flights often become extremely cheap during certain months because it’s not the best time to visit. Booking a beach holiday only to find out it’s rainy season really isn’t going to get you those pictures you want for Instagram if you have to stay inside.
But on a more serious note, the weather could be potentially life threatening. If the flight is cheap but your trip is during the hurricane season in the Caribbean, do you really want to take that chance? Make sure to check the weather forecast to avoid disappointment. Or you can check the best times to visit a country here.
2. Did you research the destination?
This is extremely important. As much as we tell others that they need to stop listening to what they hear from the media, there are times when you need to keep your a** at home or redirect your interest to another country. Military coups, pandemics, and wars put your safety at risk and no flight deal should be more important than that.
National mourning of an important figure may not put your life at risk, but it could dampen the atmosphere. Did you notice the flights to Thailand became incredibly cheap after King Bhumibol Adulyadej died? Well, now you know why.
3. Did you check what airport you’re flying from/to?
Many countries have multiple airports, so if you don’t have to travel far to reach different airports, this is pretty beneficial for you. But calculating the time and cost to get to the airport should be part of your rational thinking before booking your ticket.
It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and find out you have pay quite a lot just to get to the departing airport. For example, as a Londoner, if I see a flight deal from Glasgow, I need to factor in the cost from London to Glasgow into my budget. Think about the return trip as well.
Sometimes it’s best to just wait until a deal pops up for the airport that’s closest to you.
4. Do you know how much the visa costs?
Some visas are more expensive than others, so if you’re trying to travel on a budget, is that spontaneous trip really a good idea? Impromptu trips aren’t usually saved for so don’t get stuck in a rut by booking the flight first then wondering where you’re going to get the money for the visa.
It’s also good to know if you need a visa beforehand so you can judge if you will receive it in time. For example, I found out 36 hours before my trip to Cuba that I actually needed a tourist visa, but luckily the application process took less than 30 minutes in person. Imagine if the application process took a week or longer?
So the moral of the story is don’t be like me! Research these things beforehand to avoid becoming stressed, so you can reap the benefits of travel for your mental health.
5. Do you know how much your accommodation will cost?
I’ve fallen victim to this many times. It’s more than likely that you will have to book accommodation for your upcoming holiday (although there are ways to find cheap or free accommodation. I explain them in this article) and sometimes the prices can get pretty steep.
There may be an upcoming popular event or festival, causing accommodation costs to skyrocket. Or maybe the prices are just generally high but you booked the flight deal before finding out. It’s always worth checking to see how much accommodation will realistically cost, so you can take that into account when budgeting.
6. Do you know if the attractions will be open?
During the off-peak season, some countries will shut down a few of their tourist attractions. It’s kind of disheartening to arrive to find out that you can’t visit certain places that you planned to see. If there is an attraction that is crucial for you to see during the trip, make sure to check that it will be open to give yourself peace of mind.
7. Do you know the average daily costs?
Just like accommodation, some countries will lure you in with their dirt-cheap flight prices and then make you have a heart attack with the daily expenses. You should check the average transportation, food and attractions costs.
Scandinavia is a huge culprit. You can fly from London to Copenhagen for as low as £18 ($23/€21) for most of the year, but if you don’t do your research, you may be spending around £100 ($127/€114) per day. There are plenty of countries that are cheap to fly to and have low daily costs, but if you don’t do your research, you’ll never know where…
8. Are you waiting too long for your friends to say ‘yes’?
It’s nice to travel with friends and all, but don’t let them be the reason why you miss out on a flight deal. This has happened to me many times, so while I still inform them of the deal, I book mine anyway. If they don’t come, they can catch me on social media having the time of my life.
This may sound like a lot to do if your trying to secure an error fare, but answering these questions is possible if you research very quickly. What I often do is load the booking page and do my research in less than 10 minutes before the booking time runs out. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to book, otherwise your flight may not really be a deal in the end…