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How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere

November 11, 2020

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Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

The hardest thing to justify, when it comes to travel, is the cost of the flight. It’s almost always the most expensive part of travel and the biggest roadblock to you visiting your top bucket list destinations. There’s no secret website that gives you 99% off any flight you want, but there is a combination of things that you can do to ensure that you’re finding the best deal currently available. When we first got married, Sam and I saved money and credit card points for nearly a year before we took our first international trip. That was a bummer. Don’t get me wrong, the trip to India was SO. SO. WORTH. IT! 

But, at that rate of saving and spending, there we weren’t going to be able to travel often at all. We’ve learned so much since then and want to share all our tips and tricks for finding cheap flights to anywhere right here. There’s no better time to be booking flights, fuel prices have been relatively low for a few years and airlines are desperate to attract passengers due to the pandemic.

How to Find cheap flights to anywhere

Knowing When It Is the Cheapest Month to Book a Flight

There’s not one individual month that is the cheapest to actually purchase a flight, but there are two things to consider to always get a better price. 1. How far in advance are you booking the flight? 2. What season is your trip happening? Let’s start with how far out you should be booking. If I go search for a flight for next year at this same time, right now, all I’m going to see is the highest possible prices because the airlines assumes that they have plenty of time to fill all of their seats. The same goes for the opposite! If I look for a flight that leaves in 3 hours, they’re going to assume that I don’t have any flexibility and the price will be a high one. 

So what’s the sweet spot? Well, Skyscanner compiled the data on their flight search engine and found that to find the cheapest domestic flights you should book three weeks in advance for domestic flights and two weeks in advance for international flights. In terms of which actual month is the best to purchase your flight, you should be buying flights in September for domestic and August for international flights. This is based on historical data and averages, but it is always subject to change as travel culture changes!

How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere

Knowing When It is the Cheapest Day to Book a Flight

Domestically, you want to book you flights on Saturdays, Tuesdays, or Sundays, in that order. Internationally it is best to book your flights on Saturday, Sunday, or even Friday. I’ve seen this data change over the years as the best days to book used to be Wednesdays and Tuesdays, and the worst used to be on the weekends. We’ll do our best to keep you updated here on Our Travel Passport. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter so you don’t miss any future updates!

Which Season or Month Should You Be Traveling in to Get the Cheapest Flights?

Now with the same data that Skyscanner compiled, they found that the cheapest months domestically are January, September, and October and internationally the cheapest month is March. Anecdotally, we prefer traveling during the shoulder seasons, meaning late spring and early fall or their summer counterparts. It is a time of year where you get some of the benefits of summer weather without as many tourists, and the lack of other travelers leads to cheaper flights, hotel rooms, activities, etc.

Keep in mind that these are all averages and definitely vary per destination, but if you don’t want to do all the due diligence and nitty gritty research on each potential trip, these averages are a good place to start! In the flight search engines section I’ll show you how to ensure you’re getting the cheapest flight for the destination you’ve chosen.

best travel tips
best travel tips

Cheaper Destinations

Are some destinations cheaper than others? Absolutely! You will just never find a flight to the Maldives cheaper than what you can find to Amsterdam. After years and years of searching for cheap flights, you get a pretty good idea for the price range each destination holds, but here are some tricks to be able to estimate the price of a destination at a glance. Generally the cities that are most expensive in terms of cost of living are the most affordable airports to fly in to and out of. This is simply because of volume. The more remote an airport is whether that is your departure airport or your arrival airport, the more it costs the airline to fly in to and out of there.
 
Distance is going to be another factor, but once you pass four hours of flight or so, it isn’t as serious of a factor anymore. For example, when picking a destination that is within two hours, you can almost find flights for between $100 and $400, but when you pass four hours or so, prices don’t usually drop below $300 or $400.

 

Which Budget Airlines Are Available for Your Destination

Apart from popularity and distance, the airlines that fly the routes you’re looking for will have arguably an even great impact on the price of the flight. To get the cheapest flights, you need know which airlines to look at. In the western United States you can fly Frontier or Allegiant and in the East you can fly Spirit. In Europe, there is RyanAir and Norwegian and in Eastern and Southeastern Asia you can fly China Southern or China Eastern. You can also grab a basic economy seat on a standard airline like Delta, but you want to be aware that essentially turns your experience into a budget airline experience. 

No matter who you book with, you must always pay attention to what is included in the price of the flight. Most budget airlines won’t include food or drinks, checked baggage, carry-on luggage bigger than a briefcase or purse, seat selection, etc. and will have limited legroom, poor change and refund policies, and not the best customer service as a result. With that said, we fly budget airlines all the time because sometimes it is just worth it to sacrifice some comfort to save hundreds of dollars! Any of the below flight search engines will show you which budget airlines are available for your destination and will help you save money.

How to Get the Best Flight Deals

The name of the game is flexibility. If the only days of the year that you can travel are on Christmas Eve and New Years Day then you’re not going to have much luck finding cheap flights. On that same note, if there is only one destination you’re dying to go to, flights to that destination might not vary much in price throughout the year, or if they do get cheaper at some point, that may not be at the time that you’re available. So if you want the best flight deals, then be flexible with when you fly and where you fly to. For example, Sam has wanted to go to the Maldives forever and we thought we would go last year. But we find incredibly cheap flights to The Philippines, somewhere we hadn’t thought that much about. 

Surprisingly, it became one of our favorite places ever. (See our Philippines blog posts here.) Instead of taking your PTO around the holidays, try and find a cheap flight to somewhere that interests you, and once your cheap flight is booked, then arrange to get work off. Or better yet, just become a travel blogger! In the meantime, you can use the below search engines to find the cheapest flights for you!

Using Search Tools to Find the Best Flight Deals

After applying all the above principles, you’re going to need to know what tools you can use to actually find the best flights. I am personally signed up for multiple newsletters and then prefer to use Google Flights to actually search for flights, but you can see the whole list below.

How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere
travel tips

Best Flight Search Engines

Google Flights

To me, Google Flights is the GOAT. It’s simple and straightforward, yet it has all the features to help you find the right flights. There are multiple ways to look for flights using google Flights, but here’s exactly how I find the cheapest flights. First, if I don’t necessarily have a destination in mind, I use their Destinations Map feature where you can put in a departure airport with some dates and it will populate cities all around the world with how much it would cost to go there. This is an easy way to find where the cheapest destination may be!

How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere

Once I get an idea for which destinations are cheap, I’ll go back to the main Google Flights page and put in the dates I’m looking for and use the Date Grid and Price Graph features to lock down the best price possible. Other things to keep in mind are looking at nearby airports for either your departure airport or your destination airport. Sometimes they’re only a few minutes in the other direction and can save you a good amount of cash. Again, if your dream destination isn’t cheap at the moment, but somewhere else you still want to go is cheap, then book it if it’s worth saving money to you! Flexibility is king! 

Lastly, be sure you’re looking at what is included in the flight when you finally select which actual flight works best for you. Sometimes one flight will appear cheaper, but it won’t include luggage while another that is only a few dollars more, will include extra amenities!

How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere
Skyscanner

Although I prefer Google Flights because it is what I’m used to, Skyscanner sometimes will find you an even cheaper flight all things considered. My favorite Skyscanner tools are the “Best Price of the Month” tool and “Search for the best-priced fares to Anywhere” tool. Skyscanner is definitely worth checking out.

Dollar Flight Club
Let’s be real, you can constantly be searching for cheap flights. You need someone to find cheap flights deals for you if you’re going to be able to live your life AND get good deals. My favorite way to do this is to sign up for a cheap flights newsletter like Dollar Flight Club. It is totally free, although they have a premium version too that sends you the best flight dealsdeals, and when you create an account, you set your home airport and your desired destinations and it shoots you out an email every time there is a good deal out there that’s worth taking a look at. 
 
The newsletters include a sample Google Flights search because the deals vary in terms of timing , but by using the tools in Google Flights, you may just find one that works out perfectly. I use Dollar Flight Club because of the price of its premium version, the simplicity of the interface, and the quality of the flight deals. Sign up for DFC here! Three similar companies that I have used are Pomelo Travel, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and Airfare Watchdog. You can sign up for all four if you’d like!
 
Incognito Browser:

Like every site on the internet, flight search engines use cookies to track when people are searching for flights and I personally notice a difference in searching for flights when I use an incognito window in Google Chrome or a private window in Safari while searching for flights. This helps ensure that the flight prices don’t jump up for you after you have been browsing for a long time. With your browser open, go to File > New Incognito (Private) Window to disable cookies being tracked while you search.

Other Ways to Save Money on Flights

How to Save Money by Using Rewards from Credit Cards and Other Promos

 
In addition to all the above tips, you should always be using a rewards credit card to take advantage of all the perks, miles, cash back, etc. Our favorite is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has an annual fee, but gives us $300 in travel credit every year (which is pretty much a free flight), unlimited use of a lounge pass where we save tons of money on food, 4.5% back on every dollar we spend on dining and travel, tons of insurance options, and credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. They currently have a 50k point spending bonus here that equals $750 toward travel. 
 
Another favorite of ours is to use rewards credit cards to get the Southwest Companion Pass, where you get a business card and a personal card and depending meet the spending bonuses at the beginning of a calendar year and end up with a free companion pass for two years. That’s a lot of free flights! . We have an entire three-part series blog post about saving money for travel and one of those is dedicated to credit cards. .
  

Travel Insurance

It’s always smart to buy travel insurance when you’re traveling abroad. Especially if you are planning on traveling long term. Most healthcare plans don’t cover out of country expenses., So if you get in an accident or something goes wrong and you end up in the hospital or having to cancel your flight/plans, having travel insurance will really protect you and save you from losing tons of money. We recommend World Nomads Travel InsuranceThis is especially important during a global pandemic.

Do you have any flight tips? We’d love to hear them. Comment below!

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