If it wasn’t obvious, we love to travel and we do our best to do it as much as possible. Often, we get asked how we are able to afford to fly as often as we do and we have to say it is actually cheaper than most people think!
While you can definitely spend $1,000s on flights to Europe or Southeast Asia, it is also rather easy to score trips to Paris, for instance, for under $500. And as much as we love international flights it is also shocking how many cheap flights around the U.S. we can get. In the last 12 months, we have gone to San Juan Puerto Rico, and Destin Florida for under $200 each on roundtrip flights!
Now while these flights are great deals, we also want to point out that you cannot just wake up on a Friday and hope to find a cheap flight. We normally plan our trips at least a few weeks out domestically and a few months if international in order to get the best deals.
So, let’s go over our top 10 tips to score cheap flights all around the globe!
1. Stop Believing Cheap Flight Myths
Anyone who has ever looked to score a good deal on flights has encountered their fair share of “myths” on how to best save some money. There is no shortage of influencers or so-called experts all over the internet spreading bad intel. Below are some of the most common myths or misconceptions you have probably heard or even believed, and it’s time to move on so we can find some truly cheap flights.
Tuesdays are the best day to find cheap flights
We have all heard this myth and maybe some of us have even believed it in the past trying to snag cheap flights on specific days. Unfortunately, we hate to break the news but it is impossible to pick a specific date when airlines will have cheap flights. Just like everything else, this might have been a trick in the past but with the rise of the internet, airlines are able to change prices daily and even hourly depending on demand.
Incognito Mode and Clearing Cache/Cookies
Sorry to keep bringing the bad news but American Airlines is not tracking you by how many times to search for the flight to Hawaii. If airlines truly tracked you in order to increase flight prices, then we would never be able to get a deal. Just like the previous tip airlines have upgraded how they price flights and with the number of customers trying to fly every day, there is almost no reason to track individual flyers.
We wish these tricks worked since we would definitely be using them but unfortunately, they are just myths that keep circulating from so-called experts to influencers as the next big thing.
2. Start Searching Early
One of the first things we do when we know we want to take a vacation is to start searching for flights ASAP. On average airlines, release seats for their flights 10-11 months in advance and that is the perfect time to start tracking and getting an idea for a price range.
Now, this does not mean booking your airline tickets 11 months in advance for the best deal but as we will cover next, being able to track prices the moment you know you will be taking a trip is key to scoring cheap flights.
On average we have noticed that international flights get the best prices 4-6 months prior to the trip and domestic flights get the best prices around 2-3 months prior to the trip. These are ranges because the time of year plays a big role in prices as well, peak season such as Spring Break will definitely increase prices to certain cities for instance. When it comes to peak season travel the ranges mentioned definitely apply, but if you find a good deal then jump on it since it will probably just go up from there.
3. Use Flight Search Engines
Of all the tricks to find cheap flights this one might be our favorite and most useful for scoring those deals. There are a ton of flight search engines on the web but our top two are always Google Flights and Skyscanner. It does not matter where we are flying, we immediately start any trip by going into these sites to get the rundown on airline ticket prices and set up trackers for prices.
Yes, you read that right, search engines like Google Flights will allow you to search for a flight from point A to Point B on a specific date and set up a reminder to get ticket prices as they increase or decrease! This is a game-changer since it allows you to select different dates, times, and even departing airports in order to score the best deal.
Skyscanner is similar to Google Flights but we have noticed we get better deals on Google Flights when searching for domestic U.S. flights and better deals with Skyscanner when searching abroad. Ideally, you would be using both to make sure you do not miss out on any deals.
4. Sign Up Flight Deals Alert Memberships
As much as we love flight search engines a lesser-known option is to use flight alert membership sites to get accidental discounted fares for flights all over the world 24/7!
Our favorite membership site is Scott Cheap Flights and while it does have a free tier, we have been paying members for years now. The main benefit of being a paid member is selecting which departing airports you want as well as getting almost daily emails instead of weekly emails.
The best thing about Scott Cheap Flights is that instead of going into searching for trips with a plan, sometimes a deal is so good we might end up visiting a city or country we had no intention of visiting before. Trust us, it is really hard to pass up $250 round trip tickets to Paris even when you didn’t plan on going there.
5. Costco Travel Membership
One of our favorite places to shop is Costco and it wasn’t until recently we found out that they offer a full website of travel benefits! Costco Travel is a hidden gem that we beat ourselves up for not using sooner.
Now the website isn’t focused just on flights and to be honest, the best way to score a deal with them is through their packages but OMG are they good deals. The package deals on Costco travel are honestly sometimes too good to be true but as Costco fans, we have to vouch for them. If you are looking for flights pretty much anywhere and are willing to potentially stay at one hotel or maybe two depending on the package, then Costco Travel is a win-win situation!
6. Travel On the Right Day
While there might not be the best date to book tickets, there are definitely cheaper days to fly. This one makes sense when you think about it, since how many people travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday versus on a Friday or Saturday?
It might be inconvenient to travel during the middle of the week but if it saves you a few hundred dollars maybe it is worth it to you.
7. Flexibility Is King
We normally start our travel search in Google Flights with our preferred dates and times but then use the calendar feature to see if leaving a day earlier or later will save us any money. On average we see a pretty drastic price change when we are flexible by a day or two.
As a fact of life, being flexible can and will save you money, like previously mentioned, being flexible on travel dates and times can save you a lot of money. Not just being flexible on dates but also sometimes taking that red-eye flight or having a layover in a different city could be the difference between a sub $500 fare and an over $1,000 ticket.
Being flexible also applies to airlines, the reason we love Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Scott Cheap Flights is that these services will provide not just price alerts but they search all airlines. While we normally fly American Airlines due to having our miles with them and normally most availability from our home airport. This does not mean we do not hop around to other airlines to make sure we get the best deal.
8. Airline Miles and Credit Card Rewards
Now we know not everyone will be able to get all the coveted travel credit cards and hit minimum limits to score miles but if you have never looked at travel credit cards then you are missing out. Credit cards like Chase Sapphire can earn you not just free trips but free TSA Pre-Check, Lounge Access, and more, for just spending how you normally would is crazy!
At the moment Chase Sapphire is our favorite travel card. For starters, they have an amazing sign-on bonus for travel points. They also have some of the best benefits of a travel credit card while also having a reasonable yearly fee. Definitely check out the rest of the card benefits and the welcome bonus they give for signing up now!
When it comes to airline miles while you do not need to be loyal to one airline, we highly encourage everyone to get a loyalty account with everyone you fly. You might not fly with them enough to score a free trip abroad but with just a few miles you can easily score even a one-way ticket domestically, which is a great reward for minimum effort.
9. Get To Know Budget Airlines
When you think of budget airlines, you probably think about the dreaded fees for every single thing, like with Spirit Airlines. We are not huge Spirit Airline fans but at the same time, it is hard to deny that they offer some of the most affordable flights if you know how to travel with them. We have both flown budget airlines like Spirit, Wow, and Ryanair, and while they do not have suites aboard like Emirates, they suffice for short trips.
The key to flying with budget airlines is reading everything while you buy the actual ticket. We are shocked at how many people we have seen at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter surprised that they have to pay more at the gate for their seat or checked-in bag versus what it was online.
A lot of these budget airlines are manageable, especially for trips under 2 hours and sometimes even longer if you plan accordingly. For instance, the big seats available aboard Spirt Airlines are actually quite comfortable and sometimes only cost $30 more per flight.
So, know what you are getting into before buying these cheap fares and you might be able to explore more than you thought you could on a budget.
10. Use 24 Hour Cancellations To Your Advantage
Our last tip is the most surprising, U.S. airlines must allow a full cancellation and full refund within 24 hours of booking. Now you might ask yourself why you would just book and cancel flights? Well, let’s say you are signed up for Scott Cheap Flights or you find an insanely good deal while browsing Google Flights. Now maybe you are not sure if you can travel on that date or need to check with your significant other before you can commit. This is when you can just book the ticket and figure out the next steps without worrying if that price will be good the next day!
This little trick, while not wildly known, is great to give you a hold on a ticket price while also letting you decide if you actually want to commit to that trip or not.
We hope these tips have been helpful and you are able to use them to find cheap flights and go on more adventures. Traveling is one of our favorite things to do and we hope more people can enjoy it too. Start searching for those flights, setting up those alerts, and signing up for those newsletters, before you know it you will be getting on a plane for your next adventure!
Do you have any tips for scoring a cheap flight or finding the best travel deals? Let us know below!
Nice one, thanks for sharing your tips. I’m definitely a very short-term/spontaneous traveler. It puts me off traveling if I have to book months in advance. I’d rather have a one or two months window and then go on the trip. Anyway, I’m learning and I’m happy that those myths of Tuesday flights/cache are a legend. I also heard that iphone users are shown more expensive deals e.g. with Expedia. Anyway, I agree with the flexibility and flying mid-week. Also deals are pretty good during January (Christmas money spend) and during Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Carolin | Solo Travel Story
So true we love our last minute trips but sometimes planning out is a must!
As it happens I am looking for cheap flight to return to Paris again. But, I wish these tips applied to Canadians. Did you know it is more expensive to fly within our own country than it is to go to Europe? We do not have the travel perks that Americans have. I’ve heard about all the tips, or myths, but one that I believe is that the sweet spot is 6-8 weeks, anything sooner prices go up and anything later, prices are still high.
I have definitely heard how much more expensive it is to fly in Canada which is crazy to me! Hopefully you find some cheap flights to Paris though!
Lots of good tips here for those who didn;t know about them.
I have to agree with you on the myths – I have found great deals of many different days, it just needs you to be flexible. One tip I would add is to check hotel prices for those cheap flight days. I’ve often gone to book the cheap flight only to find the hotels are hellishly expensive and vice versa. The cheap flight can get cancelled out by the very expemsive hotel cost for the week.
I also use budget airlines a lot. Whilst I have loyalty membership with several airlines and earn avios, miles, points etc, when that airline is costing twice the price of a cheap no-frills one the loyalty bonus is more than cancelled out.
I totally agree with you on point 7, flexibility is king definitely, I never stick to the exact day I want, but let the prices dictate my leaving/return day.
So true! Love our loyalty programs but sometimes it is hard to bear those budget airlines!
These are great tips and information to know for finding cheap flights! I love using Skyscanner, I find that (at least for the locations I want to visit) it gives me the cheapest options but Google Flights is a close second if I need to go with them. Love using my travel credit cards for travel rewards as well!
I do love Skyscanner as well! Definitely juggle both to find the best prices!
Great tips! My goal is to become a more spontaneous trip taker! I usually plan 8 months-1 year out so I can plan accordingly, but I know some of the best deals are unexpected ones!
I wish we could plan that far our, normally 6 months is as far as we ever go but hope to get better at planning soon!
I’m incredibly lucky as I’m from the UK and flights within Europe are usually pretty cheap. But these tips are still handy and I never fly on a Friday or a Monday because they’re so much more expensive
I wish we had those Europe prices in the U.S. sometimes but when they get so cheap it is crazy how bad the airline can be.
I use a couple of the free membership sites, but haven’t yet fully committed to paying. Sounds like it might be worth looking into more though. Cheap flights are always a good thing after all. The 24 hour cancelation, while good, will probably get me into more trouble as I’ll never end up canceling and always just find a way to make it work
We swear by Scott Cheap Flights and have gotten so many good deals that it pays for itself at this point!