How can I fly for cheap?
Contrary to popular belief it is possible to find a cheap flight to places around the world, you just have to follow these simple tips!
Flexibility is the most important part to finding a cheap flight. Being flexible on your departure and return dates could easily cut the price of your flight in half. A lot of flight routes have 1 or 2 specific days of the week where the price is significantly cheaper.
Speaking of flexibility, make sure to check lesser known and nearby airports, not just your main destination’s airport. Sometimes you can find quite the steal by flying into an airport a couple of hours away. When I backpacked through Mexico instead of paying 3 times more for a flight to Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Mexico City I flew to the lesser known airport of Guadalajara for cheap.
- Wild Tip: If you are planning to backpack a region, for example: Southeast Asia or Europe, look for flights in different countries, then plan your backpacking route around the cheapest flights.
Continuing with the flexibility theme, a lot of the time you can find a cheaper flight by booking 2 one-way tickets instead of a round trip flight. Weird right? I know. This works, and I have no idea why it works. I have saved money flying into/out of the same airport and nearby airports. Even when I fly with set travel dates I still check one-way prices and book that way when it is cheaper.
Have I mentioned flexibility? If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, you just want to go somewhere, there are always dirt cheap sales, to random places around the world, you just need to look and book. And yes it does become an obsession.
- Wild Tip: Search for the budget airlines of the country you plan on visiting. These flights are usually very cheap and work great for in country and regional flying. Sometimes they are even cheaper than taking a bus across the country.
If you are searching a lot for a specific flight, make sure to do it incognito with a private browser or use a VPN and clear your cookies, otherwise the price will increase. Also don’t freak out when you see a cheap flight and it only says a few seats left. You don’t know if you want that flight, so you check it again and now its more expensive, do you book? No don’t book it’s just the airline seeing activity for that specific route so they increase the price. Clear your browser, give it 30 minutes to an hour and the price should drop back down to what you initially saw it at. I have, unfortunately, fallen for this in the past and not so distant past….whoops.
- Wild Tip: If you do find a dirt cheap flight, you usually only have a few days before the price will increase back to normal. I have noticed slight price increases around mid-day and general price increases after a few days.
Okay I’m flexible and calm so where do I find these great deals? Down below is a list of what I use to find my cheap flights. Honestly a lot of times my travel destination depends on me just finding a great deal so I decide to go there.
Wait, what about flying for free? If you want to fly for free you need to look at getting a travel specific credit card. A travel credit card is something you definitely need abroad, not only for the free airline miles but also to avoid foreign transaction fees. You can find out more with my Best Travel Credit Cards. These bad boys usually come with a lot of introductory miles which have gotten me to Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Japan and Canada, to name a few, for free!
What I Use to Find Great Flight Deals
In the past Skyscanner was my go to flight finder and it is still one that I visit for general comparisons against Google Flights, but over the years it has gotten more commercialized and expanded to more than just finding budget flights. Skyscanner has changed some features so it is less friendly for those who only want to look at random flights to random countries. The price chart does not register well with my local airport anymore and it has not been accurate with the actual prices shown for a lot of flights.
A couple of years ago, Skyscanner’s mobile app went down hill for random flight searches, so much that I stopped using it, but now it seems like they improved some of those features.
To me this has become synonymous with flying. If you are looking to book a flight, Google Flights is all you need. When I have my laptop open or I am bored and looking for random flights or trying to quickly plan a trip, Google Flights is what I use. Nothing compares or comes close.
Okay that might be a lie, the next option below, Matrix ITA is true flight finding perfection but guess what, Google Flights uses the same software as Matrix ITA, they just simplified all of it’s features! You can find the same flights but Google Flights is more user friendly.
If you truly want to get in-depth with your flights and you want to find, not only the best deal, but also very specific times, airlines, flight routes and ticket codes, Matrix ITA is what you need to use. This online software is for flight perfectionists.
Matrix ITA works great if you are looking to set up multi-leg trips, complex and obscure routes and around the world flights. It is also the best software to get the most distance out of your airline miles.
You do not actually book flights through Matrix ITA but this software is the holy grail of flight finding. I have used it to get very obscure flights, with connections and stopovers, so I could redeem the most out of my airline miles.
Don’t care where you go? Then this site is for you. The people at Scott’s Cheap Flights scour the internet to find current sale, promotional and mistake fares, then they email those deals to you, allowing you to get an absolute steal of a deal. I really dig this email service, because I like to look at random flights in my free time so when a new email pops up I’m always excited!
I have only used the free version of Scott’s Cheap Flights, I don’t live anywhere near a major airport to take advantage of the extra flights you get by paying for the service, but if you are a person that likes to take a lot of short weekend or monthly trips to new places, and if you live near a major hub it might be worth the money.
Honestly finding a cheap flight is very easy with these websites. Just be flexible with your dates and open to other destinations and you will save a ton of money!
If you are new to flight booking and trip planning I have years of experience and I do offer a trip planning service, just get in touch with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Contact page.