VPNs are great for keeping your online activity private and secure. But you can also use your VPN to get best prices on flights and save a bunch on travel! It’s not magic, and anyone who uses a reputable VPN can use this trick to recoup the money they spend on the VPN subscription fee.
Let’s take a look at how and why it works, and then we’ll give you step-by-step instructions for using a VPN to get cheaper flights. Let’s get those savings rolling!
How does it work?
One of the functions of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is to hide your IP address. When you connect to the VPN, it obscures your IP location and replaces it with the IP of the server you connected to. That means you can switch your virtual location to a different city or even a different country on the other side of the world.
Why is your IP location important for saving money and getting cheaper flights?
Airlines and hotel booking sites use your location or IP address to decide what prices they show you. That’s why someone from countries with a lower average income (e.g., Bangladesh or Chile) is treated differently than someone from a higher average income country, like the US or the UK.
For example, if you use a VPN location in the Philippines to book a hotel in London, you could get a much better price than if you connect from your usual location in the US.
In some cases, though, you may get a better price if you appear to be a local. That’s the same concept, but just used in reverse. For instance, if you want to buy a flight to London from Cairo, you should check the prices using an IP address located within Egypt. You might get lucky and pay a local’s price instead of an inflated price for rich foreigners!
Step-by-step instructions for using a VPN to get cheaper flights
Before you start, be aware that airlines and other booking websites have a built-in ability to spot increased interest in specific routes, dates, or flights, so if you repeat this process too many times, you may end up working against your own best interests.
Pick your tools
- Choose a VPN with a big server footprint because you may have to do some server-hopping across different countries to find the best deals.
- Next, choose a privacy-first browser with a built-in ad and tracker blocker like Mozilla Firefox to stop websites from collecting your data. Don’t use Microsoft’s Edge browser because your identity is tied to your Microsoft account. That will give the game away instantly!
Prepare the battle-field
- Sign out of all your online accounts, social media sites, and online platforms: companies like Facebook and Google can ID your internet searches even if you always decline cookies. They’ve also implemented new technologies called cookieless tracking, which can undo all your efforts to stay anonymous.
- Get rid of your cookie cache: cookies collect detailed information like your age, income level, and browsing habits. They can also communicate with each other to help advertisers get a 360-degree view of your spending and shopping habits. Travel websites will be looking to connect with the cookies in your browser before calculating a price. So keep clearing your cookies after every search to keep your advantage!
- Clear your browsing history: websites use keyword searches in your browsing history to see what people have been searching for. Navigate to your browser’s “History” settings and select “Clear all browsing data.” Keep doing this while you’re shopping around to stay ahead of the game.
Let’s go get your savings!
- Pick a VPN server and connect to it. Do your search and make a note of the prices before taking the next step.
- Open a fresh tab on your browser, then close all the other open tabs, including the airline website tab.
- From within the fresh tab, navigate to your settings. Clear cookies and browser history.
- Close the browser.
- Disconnect from your VPN.
- Choose a new VPN server in a different country. Click connect.
- Next, start a fresh session on the browser. Check that the cache and history are empty before you go ahead.
- Do a fresh search and compare the results.
Count your extra spending money
If you take some care to clean your digital traces between searches, you can clock up savings of 40% or more. The final savings amount will, of course, depend on the route, date, and time of the flight because the supply and demand cycle has the final say. But if you repeat this process to book hotels, car hire, and entrance tickets while you travel the world, you can save hundreds or even thousands on extended trips. Spend it wisely!