We’ve all been there: stuck at our office desks, daydreaming of our next family vacation or romantic getaway, and an endless montage of exotic destinations comes to our minds. San Francisco. Barbados. Hawaii. Greece. Spain. Japan. So, just out of curiosity, we decide to search flight prices, and whoa, those are a lot of zeros! Discouraged, we decide that our dream getaways are just too far out of reach.
For most of us, flight prices can determine not only where we travel, but whether or not we can travel at all. With budget-friendly accommodations readily available around the world, traveling abroad on a budget is easier than ever, but high flight prices can prevent us from ever getting there.
The good news? Airlines often have killer deals--from mistakenly published fares and special promotions to low off-season rates. Cheap flights are out there; you just have to know how and where to look for them! Follow the steps below to make sure you get the cheapest flights to your dream destinations!
Be Flexible with Your Dates and Destination
Dates: Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the time of year, day of the week, and proximity to holidays, such as Christmas, New Years, etc. If you are traveling for a certain event, it’s not always possible to be flexible with travel dates and times. However, if you are planning a getaway, then being flexible is vital to ensuring that you get the greatest deal on airfare!
It is always less expensive to fly in the off-season than during peak seasons. For example, a flight to Costa Rica is going to cost three times as much during Christmastime (high season) than in the months of October or February. Not only that, but flights that leave in the middle of the week are typically much lower than weekend flights, for the simple reason that demand is higher on the weekends! So, if you can be flexible on your dates and times, it could save you hundreds (or maybe even thousands!) of dollars.
Destinations: The truth about airfare is that there is always going to be a special deal to some destination! If you’re flexible about where to go, then you have a much better chance of finding the cheapest flight. Search engines like Google Flights and SkyScanner have made it simple to put in the dates you’d like to travel (or, with Skyscanner, you can just say “the cheapest month”), and you will be provided with a list of the cheapest places to travel during that time period! So if you want to go to Europe or the Caribbean but don’t care which city you fly into, check the cheapest flights that are available during your travel dates to find an amazing deal!
2. Use the right Search Engine
As I said before, there are numerous search engines out there that make it easier than ever to find cheap flights. But not all search engines are equally effective! Take a look at the list below to see some of my favorites:
Google Flights- Google flights is my go-to search engine when looking for deals. It not only shows you prices to various destinations, but it also reveals the prices on different days of the week and months of the year, so you can compare the cheapest fares and the cheapest times to fly. I never book a flight without first checking google flights!
SkyScanner- As previously stated, SkyScanner is an excellent tool to discover the cheapest flights to any destination, during any time of the year.
Momondo-Momondo is a broad search engine that searches the most airlines and websites in the world to make sure that you receive the very best price.
3. Look Out for Special Deals
Airlines are always offering special deals to somewhere, but the deals are often short-lived--so how are you supposed to find out about them if you don’t habitually check flight prices? Great news, there are websites and search engines that do all the work for you! By signing up for certain mailing lists, you can be alerted every time a new flight deal is released! Check out the list below for some of the top tools to use to search for deals:
Scott’s Cheap Flights: For absolutely free, you can get emails straight to your inbox about the day’s top airline deals.
The Points Guy: Find “deals” on the website for frequent updates on cheap flights in the US and abroad.
Google Flights: Set up an alert on Google Flights for a certain itinerary, and they will email you prices drop!
Airfarewatchdog: This website is especially valuable when searching for deals within the US.
4. Know When to Book
Knowing the optimal time to book your flight could save you hundreds of dollars! Airlines increase their prices the closer to the departure date, so you don’t want to wait too long to purchase your tickets. However, you also don’t want to book too far in advance, either: there is a “sweet spot,” typically between 6-8 weeks before your flight’s departure, in which airline prices will drop or increase depending on the demand. Use the Google Flights “trend” tool to discover the best time to book your tickets (when prices are expected to be the lowest!).
5. Use Miles and Points
Airline rewards programs are an excellent way to get free miles, rewards, or free upgrades on your flights. Even if you do not fly frequently, being a part of a rewards program can still allow you to receive points, miles, and other great rewards.
Another great way to earn free miles is through credit card travel programs. Several credit cards offer excellent sign-up bonuses, as well as free miles based on your everyday purchases. After all, you have to buy groceries, so why not earn some miles at the same time? If you are smart with your money and your miles, then it is entirely possible to fly cheaply (or even for free!).
So, whether you are planning a romantic honeymoon, a family vacation, or just a quick weekend getaway, follow these steps to get the top deals airlines have to offer (and save that extra money!).
Do you have any other favorite travel hacks? Share them with us in the comments below!