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Travelling home for Christmas? Here’s 5 top tips on how to save for your trip!

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Perhaps, like me, you can’t wait for semester to end and fly into the embrace of your family and friends back at home for a Christmas / New year reunion. Perhaps you don’t have plans for the winter break but you’re already thinking of heading home during the summer. Either way, this is going to cost some money, and it might really burn a hole in your pocket if you’re living far away from London like me. But, fret not; here’s five great tips for you to get the most cost-effective option!

1. StudentUniverse

You’re a student, so make full use of the privileges! StudentUniverse offers cheap discounted flights for students. Just sign up for a free account at studentuniverse.co.uk and you’re halfway there! You’re eligible as a student member as long as you’re studying at a degree-granting University or College anywhere. Don’t worry if you encounter any problems – as a member you’ll have access to their free phone 24/7 customer service.

2. Book your train tickets approximately 12 weeks in advance

Train operators usually release cheap advance tickets approximately 12 weeks (sometimes 10 or 11 weeks though) in advance, so always start looking around that time period! To save yourself some trouble, you can sign up with The Trainline’s ticket alert system to receive emails when the advance tickets that you’re looking for come on sale!

3. When to book air tickets? Skyscanner says 5 weeks in advance.

Skyscanner found that on average, five weeks in advance is the best time to book your air tickets, even though is highly dependent on your destination. However, that is subject to availability and if you’re heading home you probably do not want to take the risk. I would suggest signing up for price alerts so that you will know when low fares are available. Look here to know more about Skyscanner’s price alert system!

Also, Skyscanner’s website currently allows you to check when is the best time to book, advising you on when is the cheapest and most expensive time to travel if you purchase your tickets today – follow the link for Skyscanner’s website.

4. Best flight comparison website? You should compare across these websites too.

According to an article in the press, momondo offers the cheapest tickets, but the top three (momondo, Skyscanner, and Kayak) offered tickets that only differed by about £100. However, in general, there is no definite answer as to which is the best flight comparison website – different websites have their unique features (e.g Kayak has a Price Trend graph while Google Flight Explorer has handy bar charts). It was recommended to cross-check across the flight comparison websites. I personally like the interfaces of Kayak, Skyscanner, and momondo, but there are really so many more out there that you can also consider!

5. Change your country (well, not literally)

You may realise that booking air tickets in different countries may result in different prices. This is because flight comparison websites may have different marketing agreements with airlines in different countries. To find out whether you can pay less by changing your country, try the ITA Matrix Airfare Search; you can change your country of sale through this website.

With these handy tips you’re ready for the ‘battle’! Have a great trip home :)

Jasmine Teo lives at Liberty House in London. She is currently studying a Masters degree in Language and Cultural Diversity at Kings College London.

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