How to Score Cheap Flights (and other travel hacks)

February 26, 2017

Josh Li

Digital Marketer at Institute of Code

In the original Wall Street movie, the infamous Charlie Sheen wistfully tells his girlfriend “I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket, I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

In the original Wall Street movie, the infamous Charlie Sheen wistfully tells his girlfriend “I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket, I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

This prohibitive belief you need to save ‘a bundle of cash,’ to travel is one that has endured. That’s why people are always saying they need to ‘save up’ for the holidays. 

But in reality, traveling has become a lot more viable; there’s a lot more choice and services out there that have made finding cost-efficient flights to any destination pretty easy. 

We’ve seen over a hundred students come and go (and done our fair share of air mileage too!), so we wanted to demystify the cost of travel, and share 6 hacks that’ll help you fly more, and travel cheaper. 

Fact 1: Flying can be much cheaper than you expect

Don’t be put off by the long flight times, such as the ones from the USA to South East Asia. From experience, we know most flights from major USA cities to Bali now cost only around $650 - $750 USD return. Most major Australian cities to Bali costs around $500 AUD return. Not quite the bundle of life-savings Charlie Sheen was talking about! 
Keep your finger on the pulse of flight prices; a simple way to do that is to simply ‘Like’ all the airlines on Facebook because they’ll often announce their sales there first. 

We also love using Skyscanner! It routinely produces the best prices for us. Also, don’t forget to be flexible on the days you’re flying - prices can fluctuate majorly from day to day. 

Lastly, if you’re coming our course, we cover all your food and accommodation, as well as any other necessary expenses while you’re here, so that’s something else you don’t need to worry about.


Fact 2: Buying connecting flights from other destinations can work out to be cheaper

This hack works well when traveling to European or Asian countries. The trick is rather than trying to fly direct from home to your destination, try to see if there are frequent stop-over destinations. From the USA to Asia, Singapore, Taipei, and Dubai are popular stopovers. Because these cities are major hubs, chances are prices for tickets from there to your final destination are much cheaper. 

For example, most of the Institute of Code core team call Melbourne, Australia, home. However, we’ll usually fly to Sydney first, before purchasing a ticket to Bali - this routinely saves us anywhere between $50-$100. 


Fact 3: Layovers don’t have to suck 

Long flights suck enough, but the thought of having to sit in an airport for any extended amount of time makes it a lot worse…but only if you let it! 

You can use layovers as an excellent way to quickly see the city you’re stopping in. In fact, take this opportunity to extend your layover times so that you can get out and about. We’ve had many students stop over in Dubai on their way from America, and party it up there! If you use this trick with fact #2, this is an awesome way to see more and do more. 


Fact 4: Bartering for food and board is a thing

Money is the universal language. However, that’s not the only way you can pay for accommodation and food. Many of our staff members, including the Institute of Code co-founders Tina and Emile, have bartered web development and photography to travel all around the world!  

In fact, bartering is a huge part of how many digital nomads travel. By looking for places where you can provide value, you might be able get rid of a large proportion of your expenses. 

A good start is looking up all the hotels, hostels or other breakfast and board places, and seeing if they might need any work done. Usually web development, marketing, graphic design, photography or other digital work is highly sought after. 

After you’ve put together a list of places, it’s then just a simple matter of reaching out and working out a collaborative deal! 


Fact 5: Working remotely or as a freelancer is much easier than you expect

Flexibility is increasingly becoming important to employees, and many HR departments are cottoning onto this. Combine this with rapidly advancing technology in communication and collaboration, and working with your team even if you’re miles away, is easier than ever. 

The groundbreaking book, The 4-Hour Work Week written by Tim Ferris, talks about slowly breaking up your week so you can split your time between working at home and working from the office. Assess what tasks you can automate and streamline, and see what’s possible to do anywhere. Chances are, you’ll be surprised as to how efficient you could be, even if you’re not at your desk. Platforms, such as Zendesk, and Virtual Assistants can do a surprising amount of the heavy lifting! 

While working while you’re traveling may not sound like the traditional holiday, we can guarantee you with this lifestyle, you might not feel the need to ‘holiday’ so much!

Fact 6: Credit cards are not evil

Reckless spending. Maxing limits. Debts as deep as the grand canyon. We’ve all heard about the problems credit cards can cause. 
However, credit cards are great tools if you’re looking to travel, and travel frequently. Many credit cards, such as American Express, provide instant air points upon signing up, making your next trip possible sooner. 
Many credits card also offer comprehensive travel insurance as well. With the bonus of being able to access your money from anywhere, having a credit card is handy for whenever you’re in a tight spot. 
Just don’t go buying everyone in the bar drinks. 



This one is for the Aussies among us, but your country might have something similar! 
If you’ve purchased goods or wine valued over $300 AUD (including tax) 60 days before you travel, you’re able to get the GST you paid back under the Tourist Refund Scheme. You must be carrying this item as part of your carry-on, must have paid for it yourself in full, and must bring your receipt and related documents with you prior to boarding. 
So if you’re looking to buy a slick new laptop or camera for your travels, make sure you buy it just before you travel! 

Those are six facts (plus a bonus!) that should help you travel cheaper and more efficiently. Cost can be one of the strongest mental blocks that get in the way of travel, so it’s worth doing the research so you can consider all the options. Who knows? You might be able to fulfill Charlie Sheen’s dream of motorbiking across China now!

What are your favorite travel hacks? Let us know below! 

Written by: Josh Li

Digital Marketer at Institute of Code