How to

See The World on a Budget: FLYING

Since she was in her mid-teens, designer, curator and nomad Ali Madigan has been jumping on planes, crossing continents, and making friends from Shoreditch to Shibuya, all without a trust fund or corporate expense account to pay her way. At just 24 years old, she has already built up a wealth of knowledge on ways to see the world when you’re not all that wealthy, and she’s dishing the dirt to Anywhere Anywhere in an insightful three part series.

First up: tips and tricks for flying on a budget. Read and learn, my friends. Read and learn.

TRAVEL ON TUESDAYS

There’s a lot to be said about airfare because first of all you have to get to wherever you want to go, and that can be hugely expensive. I use Kayak, which is very popular and kind of obvious, but there’s a formula to it. I know that the prices fluctuate numerous times a day and that there’s a system: on the weekends, the flights are always much more expensive than on the weekdays. In fact, the cheapest time to buy an airline ticket is on Tuesday – Tuesday morning specifically - because flight prices drop significantly at that time. This is not to be confused with flying on Tuesday (although that’s actually less expensive too) but you should definitely avoid buying airline tickets on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, because you’re probably going to end up paying around 30% more. [Editor’s note: SkyScanner is also a great way to search for the cheapest flights.]

MAKE A BID

For last minute travel, I’ve found some amazing prices on flights through Priceline bidding. So, a one way ticket through Kayak might be $400, but then I’ve gone on Priceline and scored, say, a Virgin America flight from San Francisco to New York for $180. It’s a gamble because they don’t tell you what airline you’re going to fly, or what time you’re going to fly out, but if you have that flexibility and you just need to get somewhere tomorrow, then put in a bid and see what happens. Bear in mind that once your bid is accepted, you can’t retract it just because you don’t like the airline or the time.

BUDDY UP

I have been lucky enough to get a long-term buddy pass (coupons that can be exchanged for an open seat on any flight) through a friend who works for an airline, so I guess I’m recommend that you have friends who work for airlines if you can! Failing that, lots of people who work for airlines sell their passes (even though they’re not supposed to). You can usually pick a domestic, one-way buddy pass for around $100 if you keep your ears open and ask around.

STAY OPEN MINDED

Be flexible. Look for flights without having a destination in mind. I’ve made a regular habit of going on airline sites and seeing what’s available. The reason I ended up in Japan is simply because I was looking at random flights one day and I was curious how much it would cost to fly to Tokyo from New York. So I put in the search and discovered a round-trip, nonstop flight for $600. I had no plans to go to Tokyo, but I just went on Facebook and asked if anyone I knew was out there - it turned out that I had a friend who was staying in the city so off I went! Most people look for flights with a city and timeframe in mind but if you’re able to be flexible and travel is your thing then just keep putting feelers out and see what you can find.

Stay tuned for part 2 (Eating and Sleeping), coming soon…

@ALIMADIGAN