How to find cheap flights is the goal every traveler wants. The cheapest flights means we can travel and see the world more! Flying for cheap will take some searching but it is out there.
The goal for this article is to provide tips to travel cheap by getting cheap airline tickets so you can see the world on a budget. If you want the best overall guide for how to travel cheap see here!
We all want to travel cheap and you can see the ultimate guide on cheap travel and traveling on a budget here. We will cover how to get discounted flights, when is the best time to book cheap flights, where is the cheapest place to fly, how to fly cheap internationally, how to fly cheap domestically, when is the cheapest time to get cheap airline tickets and more!
To Travel Cheap You Must Be Flexible For When To Fly, Where To Fly And When to buy budget flights
Will tackle each of these one by one but overall if you truly want to get cheap flights and travel on a budget you need to be wide open to when you fly and where you fly.
Often the cheapest flights aren’t always the most ideal times due to supply and demand. If you have a flexible job or no job then be sure to use that to your advantage when booking flights.
Of course there are always places we really want to go but to get cheap flights keep an open mind, which we will address below. See here for 5 great tropical destinations from the USA and Canada.
Where Is The Cheapest Country To Fly To?
The cheapest place to fly to is wherever your flight search tells you! As mentioned above keep an open mind to where you end up going. Sure we all want to go to Santorini or Dubai but if you want to fly cheap be open to going wherever the flight search has cheap flights.
There are countless amazing places to go so don’t have your heart set on just a couple of places to go. I could rattle off 100 cities we all would be happy to see and would fall in love with. There will be time in the future where you have more money and can go to your dream place.
For now, if you want to get discounted flights and travel cheap you need to go with the wind and wherever the search engine gives you some great results.
How to Fly Cheap Internationally?
To get the cheapest international flights there is one amazing tip. You need to find the cheapest flight to the continent or countries main hub that you want to go to.
Once you make it to the other continent or country cheap, then you book separate cheap flights within that country. Typically flights within a country or continent are significantly cheaper than if you tried for fly directly to that location.
The best way to do this is by taking advantage of the initial flight and exploring the major city you fly into for 2-3 days. I was able to visit Rome for 2 nights on my way to Greece and it was one of my favorite places I have ever been.
On that trip I actually flew into Rome, went to Greece and flew out of Barcelona. My one way flights were just as cheap on Norwegian Airlines as a round-trip so I booked a flight in and out of two different major hubs. This way I visited Greece but also got to tour Barcelona and Rome for a couple of amazing days each.
If you want to go to Cambodia or Laos for example, look to fly to Bangkok or Singapore first and visit those incredible cities for a couple of days before buying a cheap Air Asia flight to your main destination.
When Is The Best Time To Book Cheap Flights?
People always ask me when is the best time to get cheap flights and it just boils down to supply and demand. If it is a time when a lot of people are looking to fly then prices will rise.
The best time to buy a cheap flight is in January and even February. This again boils down to supply and demand. Many people travel in December over the holidays and of course everyone spends a ton of money.
This travel and spending in December means less spending and purchasing on everything, not just flights. Thus, due to lack of demand airlines will put out more discounted flights in January to encourage sales.
This is also a great time to apply for travel credit cards and when travel companies send out a lot of their best promotions for travel credit cards. For example Southwest often will up their promotional incentives to include a companion pass.
You want to avoid the peak travel months of December to New Years and common summer holiday from June through mid-August when kids go back to to school. Of course holidays are sought after as well so avoid all of your countries work and school holidays like Spring Break or Labor Day etc.
What Is The Cheapest Day To Fly On?
The cheapest days to fly on also boil down to supply and demand. If you want to find the cheapest day to fly the answer is days when most people aren’t flying.
Most people fly on Fridays & Sundays, then Thursdays and Mondays. Thus, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are the best days to travel cheap. As with almost every piece of advice and rule in this article, if you want to travel cheap then travel when and where other people are not.
Is there a best day of the week to to buy cheap flights?
This is hotly debated and most have come to the conclusion that this isn’t a thing any more. It used to be, and still could be, that mid-week is the best time to buy flights.
This again falls under supply and demand where people have more time on weekends, look forward to the weekend on Thursday or mentally checkout Friday afternoons. People also often are busiest and most stressed on mondays leaving less free time to play around looking for flights.
With that said, it was believed and one would think Mondays-Wednesdays are the best days to find cheap flights. However, with everyone having the internet at their fingertips these days, different jobs hours, more working from home, this phenomenon seems to be less common. Yet, it still doesn’t hurt to try as it makes sense from the supply and demand side!
When is the best time to buy a flight ticket in advance?
How early before your flight should you book your flight? You need to find the perfect grey area. Buying a flight 1-2 months in advance is normally a nice sweet spot. It is finding that perfect time between where airlines try to make money off early purchasers and where prices go way up as you get closer to the flight date.
What is perfect grey area? You will find out. While finding the grey area is important the other best rule is if you see great value… take it. Don’t look at an abnormally cheap flight 4 months out or 2.5 months out and think it will drop.
If you see really good value then buy it, don’t try get greedy to save another $50 and then all of the sudden the flight goes up $200+ and it never goes back down. While there are some great rules & tips it is not an exact science so look for good value and take it if it presents itself.
To delve into the thought process on this… as an airline, an event ticket, a sports ticket or any ticketing company… the highest cost is always the days and weeks leading up to the event. This is true in 95% of circumstances… if you can get a last minute deal on any ticket in that 5% then amazing.
On the other side of the spectrum you also will have ticket prices that we can call, higher end test ticket prices. These are 3+ months out where airlines and ticketing companies test the market and try to get people to overpay a little.
It’s a win/win for ticketing companies because if people purchase then great, if lots of people purchase they realize they can charge even more… and if there isn’t much demand at the price, here comes the grey tickent area.
The grey area is where we consumers have a chance to jump on the best time to buy tickets leading up to your flight. The grey area is normally 1-2 months out where airlines start to get scared that they asked too much at the start and now the flight is empty.
This leaves a window of time where they will offer the lowest airline ticket prices to fill the seats. They then get a bunch of seats sold before the last 3-4 weeks where prices will go up again to punish the last second purchasers.
Of course there exceptions to this where if it is a consistent flight that is always sought after and commonly used then you won’t see prices dip. There will also be times when a flight might just get hot and prices never drop. This is especially true for holidays where you want to even be an extra 1-2+ months in advance.
With that said, in that 3/4/5/6/7 week window is always a great time to buy the cheapest airline ticket in advance. If there seems like a great deal 2-3 months out don’t let it sit either. It is not an exact science and never get too greedy to save another $50 when it could jump $200 the next day.
What Are The Best Travel Credit Cards?
Getting a travel credit card is often an amazing way to travel cheap, especially if you are good with money and credit cards in general. You get the card, spend the low minimum to get the promotional points and boom, pay the card back off and you are flying for free!
Some of the best travel cards are the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, American Express Gold Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. The best domestic airlines credit card is Southwest Credit Card, especially if you can get their free companion pass promotion, which typically comes out in January or February.
Overall you will want to compare the best travel credit cards to what suits you. Do you want the best rewards, travel insurance, low annual fees or if there is a great promotion going on. Often if you get a travel credit card and spend the amount to get the promotion bonus offer you will get 1-3 free flights out of it!
What Are the Best Search Engines For Cheap Flights?
There are a million travel search websites and a few set themselves apart from the best due to consistency, usability and great offers. My favorite all around is Google Flights and then I also like Kayak, SkyScanner and Skiplagged.
Google Flights on a desktop has this great feature where you can just select your departure city, the dates to travel and open the map. The map then shows the cheapest flights to everywhere in the world! Here you can take the advice above and just go where the flight deals are!
Also always use the Low Fare Calendar options where you can enter in your location and destination… then if your dates are flexible you can see the cheapest days to fly.
Skiplagged has popularized the tactic of hidden city ticketing where you can purchase a cheap ticket to New York but get off in your connection in Dallas and sometimes find an incredible deal. Do this with caution though per my notes on skiplagged later below.
Always remember, if it is way too good to be true… it normally is. If everywhere else a flight is $1,000 and you found some random site offering it for $200… be leary.
How To Get Cheap Last-Minute Flights?
These days are unfortunately long gone and it will all come to luck and maybe karma. With airline algorithms being extremely sophisticated these days there really isn’t much slippage in their pricing making sure to maximize profit leading up to the flight day.
The advent of major business travel and millennials also makes this near impossible as now more than ever people are buying last minute. Whether it is because business plans change or people don’t plan as much anymore, unfortunately the cheap last-minute flights and cheap standby flight tickets are gone.
If you are in a pinch definitely checkout Skiplagged. Out of anyone they often might be able to save you through their method where you get off at the connection vs. go all the way to the flights final destination.
Is Skiplagged Safe To Purchase Tickets On?
Yes, Skiplagged is a great travel site to use but be extremely cautious as there are some mandatory rules to follow if booking. As mentioned Skiplagged created hidden city ticketing where a flight to A is expensive but a flight to B with a stop in A ended up being cheaper.
Thus, you sometimes can find a cheaper flight and just get off at the connection and not get on the final flight to the ending destination. This seems too good to be true sometimes… it almost is.
If you use this feature on Skiplagged you can definitely find some great deals. However, airlines hate this and they do things to prevent this.
You can’t check your bags because of course the bags will go to the final destination. You will get ticketed with the last boarding group. This means if the flight is full and they start checking carry ons… it’s time to get sweaty & nervous.
If they check your carry on it means you won’t see it and the airline has zero remorse or care to ship it to you as they know what you did. Thus, you will be paying to ship that carry on back to you.
Then there are very random occurrences like if for some crazy reason, like weather, a flight gets diverted to a different connecting airport. The airlines don’t care to get you back to the connecting airport as that isn’t the ticket you bought.
With all of that said… if you are in a pinch… take the chance on Skyscanner. The day before I purchased a Skiplagged flight to the NCAA National Championship Game in Minnesota to watch my Texas Tech Red Raiders lose… and wow was that nerve racking but worth it… aside from the L.
What Website Has The Cheapest United States Domestic Flights?
Google flights, Southwest, Skiplagged and Kayak are my favorites for best US flight search engines. Skiplagged is also great if you don’t have checked baggage where you can of course find cheap flights via getting off at the connection vs. flying all the way to the flights end destination.
What Are The Best Budget Airlines?
I love how good Norwegian Airlines is for how it is sometimes 50% the price of other companies and often direct flights! Other great ones I have used and great budget airlines with good reviews are AirAsia, RyanAir, JetBlue and Southwest in the USA. A new good budget airline is American Airlines with their new no frills tickets.
What Are The Best Rates For Cheap Roundtrip Flights From The United States?
If you are looking for a great target price for cheap flights around the world from the US then here are some general great deals so that you know when to pull the trigger.
A target price for cheap roundtrip flights to Central America or The Caribbean is $300-400 or less. Cheap flight prices to Europe, South America or Asia $400-600 is a really good price but depending where you go even $700-800 is still good! Depending what side of the US you are on and where you are going obviously will swing these numbers,
Cheaper cities on those continents are often London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Barcelona, Colombia, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo and a couple others can dip to that $500-600 price.
If you were looking for a target really cheap price to New Zealand, Australia or cheap flights to Africa then you will be looking around $700-1,000 for a cheap round-trip flight. Again, this depends on where you are and what destination in each country or continent.
Should You Search Incognito Mode To Not Get Cookied And Keep Prices low?
This was said to have been a help in the past. By not having your habits tracked airlines wouldn’t know when there was demand and increase costs. but now most airlines, hotels and more know well enough when their high season is.
It used to be where you could think prices would go up if more people searched for certain flights and so if we all were incognito mode unable to be cookied then prices might not surge.