How to Find Affordable Flights 101
Without even knowing who you are I believe it is a pretty good guess that you like to travel and if you could, you would do it more often. Going places and experiencing different cultures is amazing, to say the least. But it often comes with a hefty price tag. One of the most expensive items in any travel itinerary is, of course, the flights. I have paid way to much for flights in the past and just recently paid only $265 round trip to Iceland. With experience comes wisdom, both from your mistakes and in your successes, like Iceland was. With that, here are 5 tips that I would recommend you use when booking your next trip.
I could write this whole article about being flexible with your travel plans and it would save you hundreds of dollars, it is that important. I get that this is hard to book around things that are set in stone like your family reunion or your sister who is getting married. But if you are planning a trip for leisure purposes then staying flexible is worth it. Sites like Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kayak.com allow you to choose a spread of dates for when you want to book. You can choose the month of August for example, or the whole first half of 2019.
Being flexible isn’t just about the date either, you can also do it for your destination. Kiwi.com allows you to put in your departing airport, your destination area, when you want to leave, and how long you’re staying. In the example below I’m flying out of Kansas City to the United Kingdom. I set the search parameters for a 3-month window, and told them I wanted to stay for 6-10 days and voila!
It is extremely rare for ticket prices to go down as the flights draw nearer, so book early. It was popular 10 years ago to wait until the last minute to book a flight but those days are gone. With advancements in search engines, the chances of you being the lucky one to get that flight are zero, so I would not recommend wasting your time.
Use Automatic Alerts
If your destination is currently out of your budget and you don’t want to overspend then set a price alert. Ever flight search engine will have one. Personally, I like to use Kayak.com and I just recently used their alert to book our flights to Iceland that I told you about above. I waited a month for the alert but it paid off. By the way, that flight now is over $500.
Hide Your Searches
Technology knows more about you than you think. Whenever you search for a flight your computer automatically saves that information. Through all kinds of things I don’t understand, the search engines can find this out and actually raise the prices.
There is a relatively simple way around it though and that is to search incognito mode. This way none of your cookies will be saved, thus tricking the search engines. Getting to incognito mode will matter on what web browser you’re using but check out this article at Digital Citizen.
Search Search Search
Putting in the time to do thorough searches will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. All that money you saved can go towards making your time at the actual destination that much better. Massage anyone? When I look for a flight I will usually go through at least five search engines until I make a decision. There are dozens out there but here is a quick list of the ones I frequently use and why I like them.
- Google Flights – Fast, quick searches to get an idea of prices
- Kiwi.com – Ability to search by region and combine airlines.
- Skyscanner – Probably the #1 flight search engine.
- Kayak.com – Bias towards this one as I’ve been using it the longest.
- JetRadar.com – This site includes most budget airlines.
A combination of these should get you the best deal. Some airlines, like Southwest, for example, won’t show up on these sites and you have to go to their actual site to get prices. I see that changing in the near future.
After reading this article I hope getting to your dream destination doesn’t seem so far out of reach. I use to think flying anywhere would be $1,000 minimum when in reality you can get almost anywhere for under $500. A little planning, patience, and using technology to your advantage will make travel much more affordable.
Have any other tips or sites that have worked well for you in the past? Drop them in the comment section below.