How to Find Cheap Flights Anywhere [Travel Tips]
Having booked over 100+ trips in the last 6 years out of my own pocket, I know how important it is to be able to find and book cheap flights anywhere.
This is part of my series 101 Travel Tips & Hacks to help you travel cheap and save money.
Here, I show you my best methods to finding the cheapest airfare tickets anywhere.
1. Gauge Flight Costs: I always start with http://flights.google.com just to get an idea of how much flights are on certain dates. I like Google flights because you can easily adjust dates & locations and it aggregates the best prices from all the different airlines (with the exception of a few like Southwest). When flying or traveling, the best way to getting cheap flights can be summed in one word: flexibility.
The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll be able to find cheap flights.
2. Search Nearby Airports If you know how to search nearby airports, you can find cheap flights and save a lot of money as well. The below shows a flight from Dallas to San Jose. The cheapest flight on Google is $486 but if I just flew to Oakland Airport or even San Francisco Airport on those exact dates, I can save almost $300.
Search nearby airports at both your starting and ending destination. This may take some time and experience but it’s definitely worth it if you find a great deal.
3. Use Deal Sites Once you have an idea of cheap dates/locations, you can search other deal sites (like Orbitz or Cheap-O-Air) as a lot of times deal sites will be cheaper than Google Flights. I’ve also used Momondo.com.
Note* I would just be careful of shady deal sites (I’ve found some shady 3rd-party sites even recommended on Momondo actually). Always do a quick google search on consumer reports if you find a deal “too good to be true”. Whatever hassle you have to face with bad sites is not worth the money you save.
4. Try a Budget Airline I’m actually a huge fan of budget airlines as they can save you a lot of money but only if you know how to navigate through their baggage policies. Budget Airlines in Asia is almost on a different level than Budget Airlines in the U.S. Scoot & Asia Air have been tremendous experiences even with their strict policies and have saved me hundreds of dollars from the major carriers. Below is an example of a budget airline that is over $100 less than the next cheapest flight.
5. Be Careful of Airline Policies Of course there are caveats to using budget airlines to find cheap flights. The main thing is want to be acquainted with baggage policies (e.g. budget airlines like Spirit & Frontier and even budget seats like United’s Basic Explorer or American Airlines basic economy have extremely strict limitations on free baggage).
If you’re traveling with any baggage that you need to check-in, expect to add around $30 for the first bag. If you need another bag, the baggage fees goes up even more.
6. Use Points – One of the most effective ways to use Credit Card points is for travel. If you’re traveling on Business or First class, the redemption value goes up even more. I would’ve never been able to (justifiably) fly Business Class if it weren’t for the use of points.
Quite frankly, points can take a lot of time to understand. If you’re not playing the “points game”, you may not be familiar with how to even acquire so many points and what kind of points to get.
In general though, if you do have some points – there’s a chance you can use it. The tricky part is figuring out the most cost efficient way to use it. I’ve followed the points guy for years before finally having a better understanding of the entire system. Another resource that has a lot of great info on points and travel is Upgrade Points.
However, points have taken me far and saved me a tremendous amount of money. They are particularly useful for international flights that can cost over $1,000. I’ve booked several $800-$1000 tickets using all points to save on my flight tickets.
7. Take Advantage of Stopovers – This technique is slightly more advanced and best for international travel but if you just keep in mind that a lot of airlines offer free or low-priced stopovers, you can look into how you can fly to another destination for almost free.
What are some of your techniques for finding cheap flights and great deals? I’d love to hear them.
If you found this article to be helpful, here are some other ways to travel for cheap: