Start looking early
If you know you want to travel next year, start looking now. Check once a week and get a feel for the average price, then when a real bargain comes up you can grab it.
Travel in low season
Obvious, of course, but as well as avoiding the school holiday dates here, remember that the school summer holidays down under are in December and January, much of France will be on holiday in August, etc.
On the plus side, Scotland's summer holidays are earlier than the rest of the UK's, so Shetland or Glasgow could be a bargain in August. If you're not tied to school holiday times, visit European destinations in May, June or September when it will be quieter but still balmy.
Travel at the cheapest times
As well as being dependent on the month of travel, the price of flights can vary considerably by day and time. Make sure you check out a variety of day and time combinations to get the best deal. Weekends are understandably usually more expensive, so try a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Saturdays can also be significantly cheaper than Fridays and Sundays, for obvious reasons. The cheapest times are super-early, between 5am and 7am, or late, after 8pm.
Play around with airports
Think about flying to a slightly more obscure airport. Many of the cheaper airlines will fly to somewhere a bit further out, but check how much transfers will cost you, e.g. are buses available or would you need to take a taxi, and how long they will take. It's no good saving £50 on your flight then spending £30 + 3 hours each way on a taxi!
For long haul, consider a flight with a stop over. Flying via Singapore or Dubai may save you a lot and not impact on the time taken too badly. You might also get a better deal by flying from an airport that is further away from you, so check more than one departure airport too.
Mix and match your flights
In the same way that two single train tickets can be cheaper than a return, flights could be cheaper if you go out with one airline and come back with another, or choose a different route for each half of your journey. Play around to find the cheapest combination.
Book on the right day
After all that research, you might think it doesn't matter when you book your flights. But a recent survey by Opodo found the best time to book flights was on a Saturday or Sunday in September or October. Doing so could save you up to 14%!
Make sure you book between 7 weeks and 3 weeks before your departure date as this is when the best fares are made available. Many of these will be restricted though, so best avoided if there is any possibility you will have to change a date or time, as you may be stung mercilessly for doing so.
Before you fly
If you need to leave your car at the airport, be sure to book your parking well in advance. Booking on the day is usually more expensive. Get cheaper travel insurance by taking out an annual policy. use a comparison site to find the best and cheapest one for your needs.
Weigh your luggage
Pack sensibly, wear your heaviest clothes and extra layers, and weigh all of your bags as you pack. Remember you will probably only wear 2/3 of what you pack, so lay it all out a week before, then cull ruthlessly!
Don't waste money at the airport
Take your own snacks, water and packed lunch to save money. And make sure you pack entertainment for all travellers to avoid browsing of those expensive shops!
Order your foreign currency in advance and shop around for the best deal, rather than going straight to your bank. If you would rather take out money abroad, try to do so in large amounts so you are only charged once. If you must use a card, debit cards are cheaper than credit, but you will still be charged for each transaction and the exchange rates aren't the best. A pre-paid card may be an option to look into.
Save on accommodation
Try a home swap or rent a room or apartment, rather than booking a hotel. AirBnB has revolutionised the market, but there are other sites out there. Although there are still some fantastic cheap hostels and hotels out there, especially in chic cities like New York, Prague and Barcelona. If you are travelling for a while, just book your first couple of nights' accommodation, then garner some local knowledge from fellow travellers when you get there.
Apps, apps and more apps
This is one time downloading apps is worthwhile, and there are travel guides, maps, phrasebooks a-plenty to pop on your smart phone. They will make everything from finding a great local food market to what to look out for at the top tourist spots easier. Plus you won't need to lug a weighty guidebook around.
Eat like a local
Avoid restaurants on the tourist trail with all-English menus and, worse still, pictures! Embrace the joy of travelling and eat street food (hotter and fresher than most hotel buffets!), or at little local restaurants. In cities, head for the back streets and see where the locals eat. Find the best local food markets for fresh fruit and other local produce, wander round the local supermarkets and see what you can find. And if you are in a hotel, make sure you make the most of the breakfast buffet!
Enjoy your travels!