Is Palawan on your bucket list? Start planing now. Photo by author

Summer season is almost here and most Pinoys are probably in the thick of planning their vacations. Those tasked with making the travel arrangements for the whole family or barkada know how important it is to stick to a travel budget.

And one of the major factors for deciding on a destination is the cost of a flight. Here are a just a few handy tips and tricks used by budget travelers to get the best deals for their airfare.

1. Sign up for a flight price alert

Got Batanes, Palawan or Siargao on your bucket list? You’re not alone. If you have these coveted destinations in mind, sign up for a price alert for this route. This allows you to get notifications telling you the prices of a particular flight, so that you can decide when is the best time to book.

There are several price alert services that you can use, but one that I use is Traveloka’s Flight Price Alert. Traveloka is a flight and hotel booking app that compares prices across airlines and comes with a feature that allows you to track the prices for your dream destination.

Just input the route you want and the app can monitor whether the price for your upcoming flight is increasing or decreasing, so you can book it before it’s too late.

2. Know the best time to book flights

Flight prices fluctuate. Rule of thumb is that it’s more expensive to book flights the closer you are to the departure date. It’s not an exact science, but most travelers recommend that travelers book flights 2 months in advance for domestic travel and about 5-6 months in advance for international flights.

Alternatively, you can still score good deals with last-minute bookings especially if there are ongoing seat sales. These are great for those spur of the moment trips if you have a free weekend, but don’t pin your hopes and wait for a last-minute deal if you’re not sure it will come.

For essential business or work travel where travel dates are fixed, it’s best to stick on the safe side and book your flights in advance.

Traveloka travel app

3. Travel during off-peak hours and on the cheapest days

We all know it can be more more expensive (not to mention stressful) to travel during peak seasons like December, especially around Christmas time, or Holy Week since demand is higher. But if you plan your trip in advance, you may still get good deals.

Something I’ve observed from booking frequent flights, it’s cheaper to fly on weekdays. Flights seem to be more expensive on Fridays and Sundays because most people want to take advantage of the weekend. Flights come out cheaper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

It really depends on the destination, but usually early morning or red eye flights are slightly cheaper than mid-morning or mid-afternoon flights, which are the more deisrable times to travel.

Traveloka’s Best Price Finder helps you find the lowest price for flights without having to search specific dates one by one. You can save time and the hassle of browsing through multiple airline websites to find the lowest price when the prices displayed in the calendar show the lowest price of any airline.

This works best if you can be a little bit flexible with your dates and don’t mind flying on any carrier. The calendar will display the cheapest days to fly are by highlighting prices in green, so it’s easier to see.

4. Travel light and always check baggage restrictions

One of the most frustrating parts of traveling is scoring a cheap flight only to have to pay an insane amount for excess baggage once you get to the check-in counter. Typically budget carriers are very strict about this, but major airlines also charge passengers higher.

I personally try to always travel only hand-carry and never check in my bags, but if you do need to check in suitcases, always check the baggage restrictions of each airline before you leave the house. It helps to have a portable weighing scale just to be sure you won’t need to shell out for excess baggage.

Some budget carriers only allow two pieces of hand-carry luggage only which must not exceed 7 kg. If you’re carrying heavier gadgets like a laptop and SLR camera, the weight can add up, so plan accordingly. Most people I know usually allot a larger check-in baggage allowance for the flight back or combine their baggage allowance to factor in all the souvenirs they’re buying.

It’s cheaper to fly out from Clark than NAIA. Photo by author

5. Fly from an alternate airport

This will only work if you are flying to or from a larger city, but this tip can save you money if you have the time to spare and are flexible with your travel schedule.

Most travelers from Manila book flights departing to and from NAIA in Pasay because we think it’s the nearest. But for someone based in the north, just getting to and from the airport can already take 2-3 hours during rush hour. If you’re taking a regular cab or Uber, you’ll also be shelling out a lot of cash.

Opting to fly out of Clark airport in Pampanga can actually save you time and money. It may sound like it’s further, but with shuttle services from key locations like Trinoma, for those coming from Quezon City other areas in the north, flying out from Clark can be a pretty convenient option. Typically flights from Clark come out cheaper, especially when there are seat sales compared to regular flights from Manila.

Hopefully this will help you find the best deals for your getaway this summer!

For more travel tips and destinations, check out the author’s blog Travel Up.

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