Dear Lifehacker, I’m in New Zealand and planning to bring my mum over for a visit from South Africa at the end of January next year. I’m trying to save up the money for the ticket from regular income instead of dipping into savings. So my question is how before an international flight is best to book the ticket to not pay extra for “Last Minute”? Thanks, Dirk
Unfortunately, January isn’t a particularly cheap month when it comes to airfares. If you want to save on her flight, you might be better off arranging her stay in the middle of the year. (May and April generally have the best deals, according to travel booking site Skyscanner.)
If it’s impossible to change her visiting dates, there are still a range of strategies you can employ to help keep prices down. As we’ve explained in the past, you should try booking six to eight weeks in advance. Additionally, you should try conducting searches in the afternoon when tickets tend to be cheapest.
When it’s time to book, give Google Flights a try: this is a flight-booking aggregator powered by the biggest search engine in the world. Simply type in your mum’s travel dates and destinations and you’ll receive a list of the best prices that are currently available which you can book then and there. (Click here for a roundup of other great travel booking sites.)
Naturally, you should keep your eye on New Zealand-based deals sites and forums over the coming months. These regularly feature cheap flights whenever an airline is having a promotion. Start with ChoiceCheapies and simply type “flights” into the search bar.
You might also want to check our tips guide on scoring cheap flights — while nominally aimed at Australians, most of the advice is applicable to airlines anywhere in the world. Good luck!
If any readers have advice or bookings tips of their own, we want to hear ’em: let Dirk know in the comments section below!
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