Just between the US and Europe alone, we travel at least twice per year. With many more flights to other destinations in between.
These flights can get costly very quickly, and for us to do what we do, we had to get smart about it. Because we not only like to go often, we also want to travel comfortably.
In this article, we're going to share 10 of our tips and tricks with you. So you can pay less the next time you book a flight to Holland, or anywhere in the world.
We don't like to waste money. We worked hard for it. How about you? If you don't like to waste money either, then keep reading.
Table of content:
How to save money on a flight to Holland?
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First, of all we want to say upfront, this is not about the cheapest ticket possible at any cost (although these tips will certainly help with that). Often there are tradeoffs to cheap tickets. Instead, it's all about smart traveling.
Tip 1: Travel off-season (and not just off-season at home)
Traveling off-season sounds obvious, right? But if you're flexible, this tip will save you the most.
Don't just look at the off-season periods at home but also at those at your destination. What do we mean by that? Schools might have already started in your home country, but it can still be a school holiday here in the Netherlands. Or low season in Australia is high season here. And visa versa. It's important to check both.
The same is true for events. In Holland, flower season is one of the busiest seasons of the year. You might think you're traveling off-season when you decide to come in April instead of the summer months. But in reality, the opposite is true. Prices of flights and accommodation are almost at the highest during this month.
We've written a post on popular events in Holland and school holidays that we keep up-to-date. It's a great resource to know when it's peak season in Holland.
Tip 2: The day of the week matters when you travel
The cheapest days for air travel tends to be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Use this knowledge to your advantage when booking.
When you're ready to book, always look at prices in the monthly (or "I'm flexible") view. You might just find the best deal days or weeks from your original plan.
It makes sense, right? Most people fly on a Friday and back on Sunday or Monday to maximize their trip. Mondays are even busier because also many business travelers fly that day. Leaving a day earlier doesn't only save you money; it also allows time to adjust before you get back to work.
Tip 3: Business Class in summer is often a much better deal than Economy
Most people travel in Economy class, but did you know in peak season sometimes Business class tickets are similarly priced, or just slightly higher as an Economy class ticket.
So while most people are stuck in a small seat in the back with their dull, chicken or pasta dish, unable to stretch out, you can be comfortably sitting up front with champagne and a lie flat bed for about the same price.
We discovered this a long time ago and used it ever since. It makes sense too. Airfare is supply and demand. In summer more tourists travel, thus demand for Economy class tickets goes up. Business travel, however, comes to a standstill during the summer months. Therefore the demand for Business class seats goes down. Most people don't even search Business class prices, so they never know! The same applies for travel around the holidays.
Tip 4: Fly on holidays, the actual day(s)
If you don't mind giving up a holiday at home you can save big money flying these specific days. Ticket prices just before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's eve et cetera skyrocket, but plummet on the actual holidays. Flights on these days are often extra special too because flight attendants miss them also at home. You usually end up celebrating it together onboard!
Tips 5: Use a flight-comparison tool
When you use a tool like Skyscanner you can not only search for the cheapest fares on different airlines, but also on various booking sites. And you can track prices if you're not ready to book just yet.
Tip 6: Consider different airports
Very often, wherever you live, there is the main airport (or the most convenient airport) plus alternatives.
For example, we live 30 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. That is the apparent airport for us to use. However, we have multiple options around us — Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Brussels, Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt are all close enough and easy to reach. And for a terrific deal, we could even include Paris. When we expand our search to include these airports, we can often find much better prices.
If we can save $300 a person, by taking the train to Dusseldorf airport, just across the border in Germany, even with the added cost of €50 per train ticket, we will still save a lot. Or KLM might have a deal in Business Class for the German market, but not the Dutch. We gladly originate our trip then from Germany.
In the US, our friends live in Southern California. LAX is the prominent airport there, but there is also Burbank, Long Beach, and Ontario. Plus, we count San Diego also to the LA area. Fare differences can be significant. Or sometimes prices can be best flying into LAX, but arriving into Burbank is just more convenient. There can be many reasons why looking at alternate airports is a smart thing to do.
In other words, look at more than your home airport (or the main big airport) wherever home is for you. And expend your radius by as much you're comfortable with driving. You might notice surprising differences.
Tip 7: Embrace multi-city tickets
Most travelers book a simple return ticket. But have you ever heard of Multi-city tickets? Very often, you can add more destinations to your trip entirely for free. Free? Yes, free! Multi-City can have three purposes.
1. You can fly to one city and back from another. An example is when you fly into Amsterdam, then you travel by high-speed train to Paris, and you fly back home directly from Paris. This not only saves you time (you don't have to go back to Amsterdam first for your return flight), it also saves you money because often this type of ticket has about the same price as a simple return to Amsterdam.
2. You can use a multi-city ticket to make a (almost) free stopover. Let's say you fly from New York to Amsterdam. You can enter in the multi-city screen New York - London - Amsterdam. Now you most likely still see the same price as if you would simply search New York - Amsterdam.
Now you can schedule a longer layover in London for a few days and visit that city entirely for free as well. On the way back, you might search Amsterdam - Paris - New York and include that city into your itinerary too. It can also be New York - Amsterdam - Barcelona as an example. Amsterdam is then your (free) stopover in the middle, and you end in Barcelona before you go home. The options in Europe are endless.
3. You might think right now, but I just want to visit Amsterdam and Holland, I don't want to go to London too, or Barcelona. We hear you.
Then what about this option: rest.
When we travel to the US, we usually don't use the multi-city option to see another city, but we use it to rest. Let's say we travel on Delta from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. Very often, that includes a transfer in Atlanta, Detroit, or Minneapolis. Instead of taking a connecting flight straight away, we stay overnight and continue the next day.
This does multiple things: no stress if it's busy at immigration, it softens the jet leg since we can sleep in between, and we don't switch too many timezones at once. You can do the same thing the other way around on your way to Europe.
Tip 8: Use the incognito window in your browser and remove all cookies
Airlines say they don't use this trick, but we've found too many times that we looked at a flight, saw a price, and when we came back later, it went up. Ok, this can happen, right? Seats might have sold in the meantime. But when we would then look on our phone on the train, or at work, the low fare popped up again. Hmmm? Really? Different IP, Different device and suddenly that original low price is back.
Just to be sure, we now browse incognito (you can often find it under File in your browser) when searching for tickets. Before we start a new search, we close all the windows. Plus, we always remove all cookies to be extra sure, and then we open an incognito window.
Tip 9: Use budget airlines within Europe (with care)
In the US, Spirit Airlines is the first real low-cost airline. Southwest wasn't really, they were still too nice (and expensive) for a budget airline.
In Europe, we are used to real low-cost airlines for decades now. Many different operators came and went, but the two that always stayed around and are reliable (most of the time) are EasyJet and Ryanair. Norwegian is one too, but they are often in financial trouble. We wouldn't risk our vacation to be ruined when they go bankrupt. In the Netherlands, you also have Transavia. A very reliable (lower-cost) airline for flights within Europe.
Especially if you're from outside of Europe and never flew on an actual low-cost airline, you have to be careful, adjust, and shift your mindset. First, there is no such thing as using your charisma with a low-budget airline.
These airlines make money on everything other than your flight. And their primary source of income: passengers that do not follow the rules. How about $50 to check you in at the airport because you forgot to do this at home. Or $100 to check a cabin bag that is too large.
We hear in the US often, oh you flew Spirit, we're sorry, they're nasty! No, they're not. People just didn't follow the rules, got charged, and then got upset. But we followed the rules and had enjoyable flights with Spirit, every time. Spirit crew can be hilarious too, just look on YouTube for safety announcement videos on Spirit.
It's the same thing here in Europe (although they're not funny here). When you comply with baggage restrictions (both # of bags, size, and weight), arrange everything online, make sure you've checked in, and have a boarding pass in print or on your phone before you arrive at the airport, you're fine. And you have to be on time at the airport. Then, if you expect to pay for food and drinks too you have nothing to fear.
Money tip: A low cost travel debit card is the best way to pay your travel within Europe in euro's. A card like this can hold different currencies, like euro. Our favorite is the Transferwise Bordeless Debit Card. We use it ourselves on every trip we take. Click here to learn more.
Tip 10: Embrace other modes of transport like high speeds trains
In the US, you have two options when it comes to regular transportation: your car or an airplane. Sure Amtrak offers rail service. Like three times per week, traveling at 30 mi/h, blowing their horns at every crossing, even next to houses at 2 a.m in the morning, making a trip very..... slow and not very pleasant for the surrounding area. In Europe, that is very different. There is a vast network of high-speed trains. These trains are comfortable and often just as fast (or faster) than an airplane.
It makes no sense flying from Amsterdam to Brussels if the train takes you there in 90 minutes (city center to city center). Paris is just 3 hours and 20 minutes from Amsterdam. And London just over 4 hours. Berlin is only high-speed from Hannover to Berlin, still the total travel time is just 6 hours.
Compare this to the travel time to the airport, the time you need at security, then your flight, collect luggage, and finally, you need to travel from the airport to the city. The train usually is the best alternative. Plus it's a much greener alternative, you're helping the environment too.
Check prices and itineraries for high-speed and regular rail links around Europe here.
Did you enjoy this post to save money on your next flight?
Did you find a good deal for your upcoming trip because of tips in this article. Or do you have other money-saving tips for flights? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!
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