Updated July 14, 2019
It was Mark Twain who said that ‘broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all one’s lifetime’. This is unquestionably true. But given how fulfilling traveling is, for most of us it’s a luxury – it’s not something we can all afford, unfortunately. It’s not in all our job requirements to journey to new locations for business – like cabin-crew or on-the-road salespeople. Instagram influencers and their fan-funded trips to paradise don’t much reflect the comings and goings of average people either. Most of us have to grind and save. We treat travel as a reward for all the hard work that must be done first.
The truth is, though, that traveling doesn’t have to be impossible or even expensive. Mark Twain’s real point is that experiencing new countries along with their cultures is important – wherever one ends up. Don’t be demanding on location and it’d often come as quite a surprise how cheaply flights can be booked. Budget airlines like the UK-based Ryanair for example offer flights throughout the EU for as little as 15 euros.
Comparison sites, email updates, and social media are all convenient outlets to get good deals on flights, but there are other methods that can increase the discount. One useful way of searching for cheaper flights is with a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides an encrypted connection to a network of servers, granting anyone that uses one security and privacy. While often used by businesses as a way of securing sensitive material, VPNs are also popular with residential users as a means of avoiding interference from ISPs, governments, and hackers.
Connecting to a provider’s server lends the user a temporary IP address, which has other benefits besides anonymity. Using a server based in the UK would make available all news broadcasters like the BBC and ITV, and popular streaming services like iPlayer and Britbox. Any exclusive promotions from British airlines would also be available.
Using a VPN for Cheaper Flights
Dynamic pricing is becoming increasingly more common on the web, and travel agents and flight-comparison sites operate no differently. This individualistic approach to price structuring means customers are discriminated based on their location, account activity, previous flights and trends in shopping, as well as other factors. This doesn’t just apply to travel sites either. Accommodation and car-rental sites also use dynamic pricing.
Using an anonymous IP address allows users to avoid these issues because the website is unable to track their activity. Without the cache and cookies, sites can’t apply any of the above discriminations. And, at the very least, VPNs can make region-specific promotions available.
Other tips for Making Flights Cheaper
Go for the Earlier Flights: The more desirable seats are always the most expensive. It’s usually the ones forgiving of a good night’s sleep —bar first-class and above, of course—that break the bank the most. Flights can often be much cheaper when they’re at unsociable hours, and though this might be a problem for most people, the savings can be worth the sacrifice.
In the event of delay or cancellation, there’s also a greater chance of being booked on a later plane or given upgraded seats. And for the extra time spent in the airport, the chance of free refreshments and lounge access is likely.
Take Advantage of Layovers: Layovers are often necessary when traveling far. Sometimes, though, they can require waiting much longer than the journey would even take. But they can be cheaper than direct flights and depending on how long the wait is, it may be worth it. If it’s long enough, it may even allow for some time to leave the airport and see some sights before the next flight.
Delete the Cache and Cookies: Much like with a VPN, removing the cache and any cookies from the browser prevents sites from being able to use dynamic pricing. Just simply delete them in the browser settings and use incognito mode. Using a VPN alongside would offer even more privacy.
Use Price-Monitoring Sites: Not all of us have the time to peruse countless sites for the best rates, price glitches or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reductions. Thankfully, there are numerous websites out there that conveniently offer this information in various ways. Google Flights, for example, weighs up more than 300 sites and offers in-depth price analysis, but is just like comparison sites like Skyscanner. Some sites exist purely to help people take advantage of freak glitches or to navigate the booking process more advantageously. A couple of them can be found below:
Skiplagged: Skiplagged is a site made by a group of travelers that apparently shows ‘the flights the airlines don’t want you to see’. It offers the cheapest layover deals available, as well as options for making the layover the real destination. This is a bit of a risky practice, so users should be careful when doing this. Skiplagged also looks for the best deals on hotels.
Hack the Flight: Hack the Flight and its increasing popularity have made finding cheap flights much more realistic. It’s available as a daily newsletter, as well as an app and desktop interface to catch any fare glitches. The ‘Hall of Fame’ section allows users to upload and compare the best deals found through there.
The Best VPNs for Cheaper Tickets
ExpressVPN has approximately 3000 servers in over 90 countries, which means there are plenty of options available for a location change and securing the best promotions and steals. It comes with unlimited bandwidth and server-switching and supports all major platforms.
As for security, ExpressVPN employs military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, which is the best-in-class encryption for keeping users and their activity private. It also offers multiple protocols and comes with an automatic kill switch.
NordVPN remains a popular choice for its vast server network of nearly 6000, as well as its unlimited bandwidth and server switching. Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is also supported on all major platforms and is committed to user security. It uses an automatic kill switch, as well as 256-bit AES encryption, and Onion over VPN for extra encryption on the web.
CyberGhost VPN is also recommended for its high number of servers, with just under 4000 worldwide for subscribers to choose from. Just like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, the majority of the provider’s servers are located in popular locations for booking cheaper flights. It offers unlimited bandwidth too. CyberGhost also comes with unlimited bandwidth, 256-bit AES encryption, and an automatic kill switch.
The thing to remember is that using a VPN can give access to some sizable savings, but having one installed for some rudimentary browsing often isn’t enough. A lot of getting the best deal comes down to putting in the time and being diligent. How cheap and specific the journey needs to be also plays a role in how much one can save. In a finger-on-the-spinning-globe scenario the discount could be substantial, but maybe not for a summer-break family-trip to Disney Florida. A bit of patience in waiting for the worthy price might go a long way, but so would curiosity for where the low ticket prices could take you.
There are some great sites out there, some more useful than others, that put in the work so we don’t have to. Many of them use dynamic-pricing tactics, so that’s something to watch out for. But after deleting the cache and cookies, and then browsing in incognito mode with a VPN, there’s no way to be targeted with inflated prices.