How to find cheap flights to Peru
Unfortunately, paying for your flights to Peru is often one of the biggest expenses involved in attending an ayahuasca retreat. Quite often people will spend more money on their flights than the cost of the retreat. However, if you know some of the secrets of researching and booking flights then you can potentially save yourself a lot of money.
As someone who has travelled quite a lot over the years and booked many flights, here is my advice for finding better flight deals.
Timing is everything!
The month, week, and even the day you book can often affect the price quite a lot. Some parts of the year are often much cheaper than others which is basically because of supply and demand. When the demand for tickets is much greater, airlines increase their prices. Like in most countries Peru has a peak travel season which is typically from June to September. Not only does this tie in with school holidays for many people, but this is also the best time of year to travel to Machu Picchu (Peru’s most popular tourist attraction) because it’s the dry season in the mountains and there is virtually no rain. So the most expensive months to fly are typically June to September (but not always!)
December and January can also be quite expensive sometimes because a lot of people travel over Christmas and New Year. We typically find that the months with the lowest flight prices are February to April and also October and November.
Another thing to watch out for is that certain weeks of the year can also be more expensive than usual. Easter week is a good example, and the week of Christmas/New Year is another. Weeks, where there are school holidays, may also push up prices sometimes.
And finally, even the day of the week that you fly can sometimes save you quite a lot of money.
If you research on Google the cheapest day of the week to fly you’ll come across conflicting information. Some say Tuesday or Wednesday, others say Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The fact is, it depends on the route and a variety of other factors. If you can be quite flexible on the days you fly before and after your retreat then my advice is to check the prices for all the days you could potentially fly. I’ve frequently managed to save well over a hundred dollars just by flying a day earlier than I needed to. Obviously, you will have to account for additional nights of hotel accommodation and eating out, but even with this, you could save significant amounts of money sometimes. If you’re not concerned about luxury then you can easily accommodate and feed yourself for less than $50 per day in Peru.
Book in Advance
Sometimes it’s possible to find great last minute flight deals, but this is far from guaranteed.
Long haul international flights are usually much cheaper the further in advance you buy them. If you buy them then 4 to 6 months before your flight you will usually get a much better deal than if you buy the tickets a few weeks before your flight.
Where to book your flight
You have a few options on where to book your flight. First, you have the option to book your flight online or offline.
Many high street travel agents have been forced out of business over the last 15 years because most people now book online. Personally, I haven’t used an offline travel agent for many years and I have no idea what their prices are like. I’m guessing they are more expensive, but it’s possible they can use their knowledge and expertise to find you a great deal. It could be an option worth exploring if you have time.
Most people use the internet for booking flights and holidays because it’s easy and convenient and generally cheaper. However, a little bit of extra knowledge can help you make further savings.
Most people go to flight aggregator/comparison websites such as Expedia, Kayak and Skyscanner. These can certainly be great places to buy flights and quite often they do give you the best deals. However, there are a few options you may not be aware of:
I read an article recently that explained why flight comparison websites don’t always show you the best deals. Basically, these sites make most of their money from sales commissions which are actually quite low. Therefore, in order to get higher commissions, they may not show you the lowest prices.
All airlines have their own websites. For example, you can find the British Airways website at https://www.britishairways.com and you can always book flights with British Airways through their own website. And sometimes (but not always) you can find better deals through the airlines own website than on flight aggregators like Expedia. Obviously, checking all the different airline websites takes considerably more time; however, if spending an extra hour researching saves you $100 or more then it’s time worth spent in my opinion.
Next, you should know that some of the airlines that fly to Peru don’t list their flights on websites like Expedia. Usually, these are the more budget airlines who are able to offer lower prices because they don’t pay commissions.
I don’t think there are any European airlines to Peru that don’t list their flights on Expedia etc; however, there are at least two airlines in the USA that fly to Peru and you have to book through the airlines own websites. These are Jet Blue and Spirit Airlines.
However, a word of warning when booking with budget airlines. Although their prices can initially seem great they often have several hidden or additional charges that you may be required to pay for. For example, their lowest fees usually don’t include luggage, so if you want to check on a suitcase you have to pay extra. So make sure you research any additional fees that you may require before booking.
Change Your Origin/Destination Locations
This won’t apply to everyone, it depends on the number of airports that are in easy travelling distance from your home. Obviously, we’d all prefer to fly from our nearest airport, but sometimes you can save hundreds of dollars by flying from an airport a bit further away. Of course, you have to take into account additional travel expenses of getting to the airport, but if you can easily get a bus or a train (or have someone drive you) then it can still work out a lot cheaper.
For example, in the UK, I’ve often found that the price of flying between Lima and London is much cheaper than anywhere else in the UK, and being quite a small country it’s easy to get to London from anywhere if you take the bus which is pretty cheap usually.
The only major international airport in Peru is in Lima, the capital. Virtually all international flights land here. However, you are most likely going to be travelling to another city in Peru. Most ayahuasca retreats are held close to the cities of Iquitos, Tarapoto, Pucallpa, or Cusco.
You have two options on how to book your flight to your final destination. First, if you book your flight through a site like Expedia then you can enter your final destination and Expedia will automatically work out all the flights for you. This certainly makes life easier. However, it’s not necessarily cheaper. I have often found that it’s cheaper to book my international flight to Lima and then book my domestic flight separately. There are several domestic airlines in Peru including LATAM, Avianca, Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines.
However, if you are buying your flights separately you’re going to have to recheck your luggage in Lima so always make double sure that you have enough time to disembark the plane, go through immigration, claim your luggage and then check-in to your next flight. Personally, I would always try to allow at least three hours for this, although in most cases two hours is enough.
Also, if you’re hellbent on saving every dollar you possibly can then you may want to consider taking the bus. This is not an option if you’re going to Iquitos, but certainly an option to Pucallpa and Cusco. Many buses in Peru are luxurious and extremely comfortable. Some even put a screen in the back of every seat so that you can choose your own movies. However, journey times can be long. for example, Lima to Cusco takes about 22 hours.
What’s the best flight price to Peru?
If you’ve never booked a flight to Peru before then you probably don’t know what the average fares are or how to recognize a really good deal when you see one. Below I’ll list the kind of prices you should be looking for (round trip prices to Lima in 2019):
Great deal: Less than £500 (570 Euro)
Good deal: £500 – £750 (570 – 860 Euro)
Average deal: £750 – £1000 (860 – 1150 Euro)
Poor deal: Above £1000 (1150 Euro)
Great Deal: Less than $500 USD
Good Deal: $500-$700 USD
Average Deal: $700-$1000 USD
Poor Deal: Above $1000 USD
From Australia/New Zealand
Great Deal: Less than $1400 AUD
Good Deal: $1400-$2100 AUD
Average Deal: $2100-$2800 AUD
Poor Deal: Above $2800 AUD