While many people may think travel writers live the life of Riley, jetting around here and there, resting their heads for free at some of the finer establishments in the world, this isn’t always the case.
While some may indeed see that as their job description, I have always felt part of the deal of travel writing is making all the travel mistakes so other people don’t have to. So in that spirit, today I bring to the table two valuable lessons when it comes to booking flights.
First, check the currency. Clearly this only applies to international flights or, and I stress the word or here, when you are booking a flight not from a destination with your local currency. For example, say you were to find yourself in the UK and you wanted to book a one-way flight from Palma, Mallorca back home. Most websites automatically assume you want the price in euros. Given you will be paying in GBP or AUD, euros are not entirely helpful. Interestingly, many airline sites do not offer you the option to change the currency at this point. So, you resort to Xe, the world’s trusted currency authority, to convert said flight price for you. Satisfied with the amount in your local currency you go ahead and book your flight.
A short while later, you open your confirmation email, and after scrolling, you realise what you have actually paid. Instead of the £171 you thought you had paid, you discover £201 has been deducted from your account. How can this be? Well, it turns out Ryanair has actually converted the cost using Fx not Xe – somewhat conveniently, a sceptic may say.
Moral of the story? Be very wary of paying for your flight in a foreign currency and always opt for a site that displays local currency fares. Paying £201 for a Ryanair flight hurts more than I care to express …
The second, arguably not true in 100 per cent of cases, is to book fares when you first decide on them. Yes, I know there are cheaper days to book flights. And yes, I have waited for those cheaper days in order to book flights. Guess what? They weren’t cheaper – in fact, quite the opposite – they were significantly more expensive. As seats book up and the available number gets into the single digit, fares skyrocket. One of the flights I had my eye on completely sold out.
Moral of the story? Unless you are booking over six months in advance, as soon as you have a clear idea on dates and times, just book. In all my years travelling, I have never paid anything but significantly more by hesitating or waiting to book flights.
Have you been caught out when booking flights in a different currency? Or do you have any other tips when it comes to booking flights?