It's no secret; there are an overwhelming number of websites and other ways you can book a flight. So, how to go about finding cheapest flights to anywhere in the world?
Although the world is open for everybody, it is no secret that traveling can empty your wallet. Quite often, ticket prices take up the biggest part of a traveler's budget. So whether you are happy to splurge or are looking for ways to make your adventure a bit cheaper, it is always nice to save up on some extra bucks.
Finding cheap flights can be challenging, but it becomes easier if you have all the right tricks up your sleeve. Luckily for you – we've got your back!
Here is the ultimate guide for finding cheapest flights to anywhere on your wish list!
Tips to finding Cheap Flights
- 1. Use a Good Search Engine
- 2. Find out When and Where to Fly
- 3. Be Flexible
- 4. Don't set your mind on one destination
- 5. Avoid Direct Flights
- 6. Use your Points = fly for FREE
- 7. Consider Budget Airlines
- 8. Search Flights in other Currencies
- 9. Change your Location
- 10. Look through Error-Fare-Alert websites
- 11. When to Book the Flight?
1. Use a Good Search Engine
One of the most important tools for getting cheap airfare and flight deals is using a good airfare search engine. The idea is quite simple – these sites search for tickets across many different airlines.
Usually, they also feature additional tools such as price maps and price predictions. So, whenever you're craving an adventure, make sure to check out multiple flight search engines before making your booking. Then you are guaranteed to find the best price available.
Some of the most popular airfare search engines include:
Tip: Before you book, it's a good idea to check iVisa.com and check your travel requirements.
2. Find out When and Where to Fly
When you're planning an overseas vacation, often your travel dates and destination are flexible, and you just want to know how you can get to Europe, southeast Asia, or some other general area for the lowest price possible. Currently there is just one way to do that, and it's one of the best "insider" tools available for researching flights.
That tool is the website Matrix Airfare Search from ITA Software.
ITA is a software company (now owned by Google) that actually powers many of the flight booking sites like Orbitz, Kayak, HipMunk, and others.
Because ITA is a software company, not a booking website, you can't actually book tickets on their site. But they do make the Matrix tool available for anyone to use to research flights, and it's extremely powerful.
For example, using the "nearby" link when choosing your departure and destination, you can tell it to search for the cheapest flights from any airport within 100 miles of you, to any airport within 1000 miles of Paris. You can select "See calendar of lowest fares" to then see the lowest date the travel on.
This is extremely useful for finding out when and where to fly to.
3. Be Flexible
Being flexible with your travel date and time is crucial (if you are traveling on a budget).
As you may already know, prices for tickets can change depending on the time of year. For example, August is often free time for most Europeans, that is when everybody wants to travel around the continent, so naturally – prices go up. The same goes for Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Thanksgiving.
Overall – you should avoid flying when everybody’s traveling unless you want to pay more. If you are flexible with your dates, you may choose your trip at a time that is more affordable. The off-season is typically the best choice. Don't be stuck on a specific date. Try to be less rigid with your plans, then you have a bigger chance of finding a good deal.
Usually, it is better to fly during the middle of the week. Why? Most people choose to head on their adventures on the weekend, and due to this, airlines increase their prices. Flights that take off in the early morning or late night also tend to be more budget-friendly because fewer people want to travel at those times.
Last minute flights can also sometimes be the cheapest, so bear this in mind.
4. Don't set your mind on one destination
Sometimes being flexible with your travel dates can be challenging. If your job has vacation at a specific time, there is not much you can change. But in this situation, you may want to be flexible with your travel destination. Perhaps New York City isn't as cheap as San Francisco, for example.
Nowadays, it is pretty easy to search for the cheapest tickets.
Thanks to websites like “Momondo”, “Google Flights”, and “Skyscanner”, you can find the best deals from your home airport. Comparing multiple destinations doesn't take much effort, but it can save quite a lot of money.
What is more – by using this method, you may find some fascinating destinations that otherwise you wouldn't have even thought about. When you are flexible about where you want to go, the whole world seems to open up – the possibilities are endless!
5. Avoid Direct Flights
Although it is a lot easier to travel using a direct flight, it can really pay off to choose a flight that has a few stops. This is especially true when crossing an ocean. Use “Google Flights” to search to – and from – different airports in your chosen area. Keep in mind that some airports are more expensive than others (they have bigger taxes).
For example, flights through Heathrow Airport tend to cost more than through London-Gatwick Airport. The same thing goes for the capital of love.
Charles de Gaulle (Paris) will be more expensive than Orly (Paris).
If you are flexible, you might want to consider using stopovers as a way of discovering two cities for the same price. Sometimes you may come across offers that allow you to spend some time in the airline's home city. That can save you a couple of bucks.
6. Use your Points = fly for FREE
Joining miles programs can definitely be challenging and annoying, but the hassle is well worth it. Just imagine – by collecting points, you may even get the chance to travel for free.
It sounds like a dream, doesn't it?
But in fact – it's reality. Typically, each airline has its own loyalty card. Sometimes they can even be used for getting discounts for different services. So whenever you buy tickets, make sure to add your card. Otherwise, your miles or points won't be counted.
Alternatively, another option for flying for free or reduced fair is using credit card miles, and it's easier than you may think. Many credit cards offer bonus points just for signing up. If you use a point-earning credit card for your daily purchases, most people are able to earn enough points for a free or reduced cost flight overseas every couple years or so. As long as you pay off your credit card balance in full every month, there's no reason not to use one of these cards to earn free air travel.
Speaking of travelling for free.... why not Volunteer and Travel the World with Worldpackers.
7. Consider Budget Airlines
If traveling luxuriously is not crucial to you, then choosing budget airlines might be your best bet as they usually offer significantly cheaper tickets. However, keep in mind that with this, you do have to make some sacrifices. You may not have as much space and legroom, you won't probably get any free food or drinks, but the price difference can really compensate for that. Furthermore, if you are not traveling somewhere far away, it is not really that important.
Remember that budget airlines are not always featured on comparison websites. Therefore it is better to check them manually. Whenever choosing a cheaper airline, make sure to read the fine print before booking. It may contain some rules. If you don't obey them, you might even have to pay a fee.
- Air Asia,
- Tiger Air,
- Wizzair, and
are some of the most popular budget airlines.
8. Search Flights in other Currencies
Have you compared whether the ticket's price is lower when choosing a different currency? This is one tip you should keep in mind.
Most airlines will have an option on their website to change the currency. This is when you should go incognito and turn off the location setting on your device. Then you will be able to pay for the ticket in a different currency, allowing you to save a couple of bucks.
Don't forget – this method will only work if you are using a credit card free of foreign transaction fees. Otherwise – it's just not worth it.
9. Change your Location
Similar to different currencies, sometimes changing your location may impact the ticket price. For some reason, the same flight in the search engine websites may be priced differently, depending on your home country.
Therefore it is a good idea to play around with different locations. See which countries have a lower price. Who knows – maybe you will find the perfect deal!
10. Look through Error-Fare-Alert websites
Airlines frequently make mistakes when publishing prices of specific routes. If they advertise that price and somebody manages to get their hands on it, they still have to honor it, even though it may differ by hundreds of dollars. Well, their mistake is your luck!
Usually, mistake fares don't last long because airlines try to fix what they have done as soon as they realize it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of websites that track these mistakes. If you check them regularly, you might get your hands on some awesome deals!
Look out for these websites:
11. When to Book the Flight?
There is a belief that it's always cheaper to book your flight as early as possible to get the best price. This is often no longer the case. Prices for overseas flights are usually more expensive if you book too far in advance, and prices gradually come down, but then eventually spike upwards again as the travel date nears. The sweet spot for the lowest rates for international flights are typically 5-6 months before your departure date.
For example, for peak season (summer) travel to Europe, the sweet spot to find the lowest fares is typically around February through April. But you'll usually still find rates that are nearly as low any time from 8 months before your flight up until about 2 months before. For domestic flights, the cheapest prices are typically 2-3 months before the departure date.
But if you're wanting to book a flight for a trip that is only a short time away, don't despair. There are often cheap tickets available for flights that haven't filled up in the last month or so before departure. But your options may be limited. You may need to fly to a city that isn't your primary destination and then take a short-haul flight or train, so check all of the possibilities.
Next up: When to Book Hostels? For spontaneous souls & pre-planners
Overall, when it comes to finding cheapest flights that suit your dream holiday, it isn't always straight forward.
Not all airlines appear on search engines, and more often than not you will end up spending extra on fees should you need to change flight time/date or cancel.
Our last tip: Don't forget to check hidden surcharges such as baggage fees and taxes when using a search engine - every airline is different! Often these are added toward the end of your booking process and can sometimes turn a super cheap flight into an absolute fortune.
Oh! And don't forget to tick off everything from our Packing Guide for Backpackers before you board!
Take some time to shop around, play around with different search engines and try not to get too caught up in finding an unrealistic price - good luck!
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