Flights are one of the biggest expenses for an international trip. Knowing the tricks for finding cheap flights to anywhere you want to go will help you get out and travel more! If you can save hundreds of dollars on one set of plane tickets, you can take a bonus trip somewhere else. You're in luck because that's what this article is all about!
Before you even start searching, think about what’s most important for getting to your destination. Using the value travel method, travel always starts with getting clear on the priorities. If you only have 7 days and are flying to another continent, getting there quickly is probably the most important. You don’t want a flight route that has multiple long layovers and will take you 15+ hours to get to where you’re going! However, if your time is flexible or you have a longer trip planned, that might not matter so much.
There are multiple ways to plan your travel around affordable flights and create an unforgettable experience in the process. Here you'll find seven of my best tips that will make you a boss at finding cheap flights to anywhere you want to go! Some of these require some time and energy for researching, but otherwise are totally free. There are all sorts of ways to configure your flights so it’s all about finding the best fit for your next travel experience.
Travel Outside of Busy Season for Your Destination
Every place you want to visit is going to have times of the year that are busier than others. For example, summer is when most people visit Europe. In Central America, most people visit during the dry season (December - April). Visiting during the busy season is the most expensive. Flight deals are rare because airlines know the seats will fill up without the discounts and accommodations charge more as well.
Planning your travels on the edge of the busy seasons (aka shoulder season) is the sweet spot! You can find cheaper flights, fewer crowds, affordable accommodations, and the weather is still decent. Don’t forget to look for events that may draw larger crowds and drive up prices, like Oktoberfest in Munich or the Tulip Festival in Amsterdam.
Plan Your Trip Around Finding Cheap Flights
When it comes to finding cheap flights to anywhere, always start your travel planning process by looking for flights. Instead of choosing your dates and building around those, find your cheap flights and create your trip from there. It’s crazy to see how much prices vary from one day to the next or from week to week! There’s an old myth out there about when to search for flights, which was probably true in the 80s, but with the current technology, airlines are updating prices whenever it suits their needs so don’t worry about that.
With flight search engines like Skyscanner, you can look at your route an entire month at a time to see the variations in price and choose what works best for your budget and schedule. You can also search for the cheapest month and Skyscanner will return the results based on all the searches that have run recently for that route. Once you have an idea of when flights are the least expensive, then decide your dates of travel. This one simple change in your travel planning can add up to huge savings! If you're planning a trip to Europe, check out this full guide for more ways to save!
Set Alerts for Flight Deals
Whether you have a destination you really want to visit or if you’re just open to adventure, setting alerts are a big help in finding cheap flights to anywhere. There are some great websites that will send you alerts for general flight deals or for specific routes.
Airfare Watchdog is my favorite site for alerts to specific destinations. You can choose multiple routes that you want to watch and they'll send you a weekly alert that includes prices and date ranges.
Secret Flying is my go-to for seeing what flight deals are happening from any region of the world. With one click, it’s easy to see flight deals for destinations and routes. There’s also an app that will send you alerts, which can be amazing or frustrating because you’ll want to take all the trips all the time!
Signing up for emails from the airlines you fly most often or that fly to the places you want to visit is another great tip for finding cheap flights to anywhere. For example, Delta is the major airline that flies out of my home airport and I have a SkyMiles credit card so I make sure to check their emails to see what deals they have running.
Start Finding Cheap Flights by Look at Nearby Airports
Flying to your destination from a larger airport that’s easy for you to get to is a great way to save a ton of money on flights. There are a few considerations when building an itinerary this way because you may not be booking all your tickets on the same airline.
Unless you live in a major urban area chances are you don’t have the variety of options that come with flying from a major hub. Living in Salt Lake City, I have significantly more options than when I was living in Bismarck, ND, but nothing compared to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Getting to those airports is a short and inexpensive flight and then I can choose from more carriers and destinations! Again, there are elements to consider before planning your flights this way, but the savings can be massive if everything goes smoothly.
The Best Flight Search Engines
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding cheap flights to anywhere! It’s very robust and has a ton of ways that can help maximize savings. Once you learn how to use the platform, it can save you a ton of money!
Skyscanner allows you to search for prices to a specific destination or you can choose to search “Everywhere” for up to a month at a time! This lets you see where you can get to for cheap from your home airport, instead of having to search one destination at a time.
Momondo’s Explore feature is another favorite that lets you see prices from any airport of your choosing. Simply enter the airport code and search “Anywhere”. Zoom out on the map to see prices listed for destinations across the globe! This is one I use just for daydreaming about future trips. 🙂
Other Ways to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere You Want to Go
Use incognito mode on your browser when you’re searching for your flights. This keeps websites from tracking all your searches and showing you artificially inflated prices because you’ve searched a specific route multiple times.
Sign up for the rewards programs for airlines you fly most often. Hell, sign up for the rewards program for any airline you fly! It’s totally free and you may end up using them more than you think and rack up enough points for a free flight or two.
Travel credit cards are a great way to earn points toward your travel. There are a ton of options to choose from and The Points Guy does a great job of gathering all the information to compare them. I use my rewards cards for all my purchases and then pay it off every month so I get all sorts of perks without paying interest or going into debt. Treat your rewards card like your checking account (don’t spend money you don’t have!) and get travel credits in the process.
Final Tips for Finding Cheap Flights
When it comes to finding cheap flights, the more flexible you can be, the more you’ll save. Knowing what are the most important elements will help you make choosing the best flights for your needs much easier. Like I mentioned in this post about value travel, there are a number of ways to find better prices if you’re willing to give up other elements in exchange for the savings. Yes, it takes some time and effort to find the best deals, but isn’t seeing the world worth it?
If travel isn’t a priority for you, you’ll always find somewhere else to spend your money, even when you find a great price on flights. Keeping travel at the forefront of your mind when you’re making purchases will help you make decisions based on what you really want.
Other Resources for Saving Money on Your Travels
While I usually see the biggest savings in my travel budget on flights, there are a ton of other ways to save on your travels! Here are other articles that will help you plan the other elements of your trip without breaking the bank:
- Planning A Europe Trip: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating A Trip You'll Love has everything you need to know to plan your trip and save money along the way.
- Accommodations: 5 Different Types of Accommodations That Can Save You Money
- Transportation: 7 Different Ways to Travel for Creating Your Perfect Trip
- Budgeting: How to Plan a Travel Budget + Tips for Saving on Independent Travel
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Then when it's time to go on your trip, you're doing that on your own too. Wouldn't it be nice to have other indie travelers to talk to as you go through the process?If you'd like to talk to a real live person who's planned dozens of indie trips to Europe, I've got you! Check out these consulting services designed specifically for indie travelers like you -- you can get answers to your questions or get a little help with the details without handing your trip over to someone else.
Do you have any great tips for finding cheap flights to anywhere you want to go?
Share them in the comments so we can all do more traveling!