How To Find Cheap Flights To Anywhere
The process of finding cheap flights is not always sunshine & daisies (in fact- it hardly ever is). We typically begin our quest determined to find the cheapest flight possible… but somehow end up just staring at our computer screen all night with nothing to show for it in the end.
Here are a few of my best tips and tricks to help you score the cheapest flights to anywhere around the globe!
Be flexible with travel times and dates
Being flexible with your travel is arguably the best way to get a cheap flight to your next destination. Airfare will vary significantly depending on factors such as upcoming holidays, time of year, and the day of the week/time that your flight departs.
Holidays: Airfare will rise in demand for holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July.
Time of year: Summer is a popular time to travel to Europe, so your flight to Italy in July is going to cost more than it would in say, February. Flying off-season to your next destination is going to give you much more flexibility in your travel plans.
Day of the week: It’s always cheaper to fly out on a weekday as opposed to a weekend. This is because most travelers choose weekend flights, and airlines will then raise flight prices due to the increase in demand.
Flight time: Your airfare will also depend on your flight time. Early-morning (5am to 7am) and late-night (after 8pm) flight prices are also going to be cheaper and have less demand. Most travelers choose daytime or peak business hours to fly (8am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm), and flight prices will therefore be the most expensive during those times. On the bright side, you have a much lower chance of being delayed by departing early in the morning.
Being flexible with any of the above factors can result in hundreds of dollars in savings. If you want to start saving some serious cash on your next flight, then start being more flexible with your travel plans!
Be flexible with your destination
Being flexible with your travel destinations is one of the best (and one of my personal favorite) ways to score a cheap flight.
If you want to be more flexible with your travel destinations, there are a few options you can explore:
The “Everywhere” method on Skyscanner
The Kayak Flight Explorer Tool
A similar everywhere/explore tool using Google Flights (Google Flights Explorer Map)
You can start by searching the “Everywhere” option on Skyscanner. This is my favorite method because Skyscanner offers budget airline options and will never track your searches with cookies. However, you need to be flexible and put in the time/effort for this to work in your favor. I’m going to later be outlining exactly how to search on Skyscanner for those of you who need a little assistance.
Kayak Flight Explorer
You can also try out the “Explore” method with Kayak and receive a similar experience. This tool allows you to type in your home airport and view a map of the world with all available flights on it.
Use the Google Flights Explorer Map
Alternatively, you can use the Google Flights explore feature if you are flexible with your travel destination/plans:
Go to Google Flights (using a private browsing window, of course)
Type in your home airport
Select any area on the map
Add in your preferred travel dates
And be sure to check out the flexible options you can explore with Google Flights! Instead of choosing dates, you can select, “Flexible Dates” and choose from any single month, along with “Weekend”, “1 week” and “2 week” travel options. Time to start exploring!
Ignore the rumors: there isn’t a cheap day to book your flight
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but Tuesday is not the cheapest day to book your flight. In fact, there is no “cheapest day to book your flight” at all.
Here are a few of the most common flight myths:
It is NOT cheaper to book airfare on a Tuesday. With that being said, it will always be cheaper to fly out on a weekday as opposed to a weekend. Because most travelers choose weekend flights, airlines will in turn raise flight ticket prices due to the increase in demand.
There is NOT a specific date or time period in which you should book your airfare. However, on average, early-morning and late-night flight prices tend to be cheaper than alternative flight times. This is because most travelers choose daytime or business hours to fly (for convenience), resulting in less demand for the early-morning/late-night flights.
Searching in private browsing (or Incognito mode) will NOT lead you to a cheaper flight deal. It will, however, prevent airlines and third parties from tracking your flight searches through cookies (more on this below).
Search in Secret with Incognito Mode:
Scenario: You’ve been searching for a cheap flight to your next destination. The ticket price started out alright, but you honestly think you can find a cheaper flight and decide to wait a few days to book anything. Suddenly, the cheapest airfare is gone and the flight ticket has increased. Could this be a mistake?! Unfortunately, no- you are being tracked by airlines and other third parties.
You’ve probably heard this one plenty of times, but just in case you haven’t: you should ALWAYS search for your flights in Incognito (private browsing) mode in order to find the cheapest flights. When you search for cheap flights in a normal browser, ‘cookies’ are tracking your searches and handing that information back over to the airlines and third party apps. When a particular flight route is repeatedly searched in a normal browser, the airlines and third parties want to scare you into booking the flight quickly before the prices increase. This in turn actually results in an increase to your (previously) cheap flight ticket.
How to search flights incognito
To search using an incognito window, follow these steps:
In Google Chrome and/or Safari, Incognito is enabled by clicking Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “N”.
In Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, click Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”.
If you’re not into using keyboard shortcuts, simply open up a web browser by clicking “File”, “New Incognito Window” or “Private Browsing Window”.
These options will open a new private browser window where your flight ticket research won’t be tracked by cookies!
Note: If you are searching for cheap flights on an app like Skyscanner, you don’t need to worry about using Incognito mode, as long as the app doesn’t implement cookies or use a search tracking system.
Delete Browser History and Cookies:
Choose budget airlines
Budget airlines such as Norwegian, WOW Air and AirAsia make it possible for you to fly around the world at a very low cost to you. Norwegian Airlines makes it possible to fly between America and Europe for around $200 each way. While I was living in the U.K., I snagged a number of cheap tickets from Orlando to London by flying with budget airlines (most often with Norwegian). I have honestly never paid over $300 for a flight to London or back home to Orlando. Budget airlines for the win!
Listed below are some of the biggest (and most reputable) budget airlines in the world today:
Granted, you won’t get the first-class, luxury treatment with budget airlines. Heck- most of the time, you don’t even get a meal for an 8+ hour flight unless you purchase separately! Budget airlines will also charge fees for checked bags, carry-on luggage, forgetting to check-in to your flight on time, printing your boarding pass and other add-ons/ hidden fees. So just make sure the add-ons and cost of the flight ticket are worth the total cost of your travel itinerary (i.e. lower than the price of a normal airline). However, in most cases, they definitely will be!
Use the best flight search engine:
It’s no big secret that a number of flight search engines won’t even list budget airline carriers (because those airlines aren’t willing to pay a booking commission!).
Some search engines will simply provide flight prices directly from airline websites, which clearly isn’t helpful in finding cheap flights. Here are a few of my favorite trusted sources to search for the cheapest flights possible:
Skyscanner: Pretty much my go-to flight search website/app. One of my favorite things about Skyscanner is that it is free, meaning that the platform will never add booking fees or use web browser cookies to inflate ticket prices- what you see is what you get! Skyscanner has a solid user interface, as well as a great mobile app for smart phones (making your flight search even more convenient!).
Momondo: This is a website I just recently started using (and I love it!). Momondo searches nearly all airlines and websites (including budget) in the world and returns with cheaper flights roughly 92% of the time (score!). Similar to Skyscanner, Momondo will never add booking fees or use browser cookies to increase prices.
Google Flights: Reputable search engine that allows you to scout flight prices for multiple destinations around the world.
Again, it’s important to keep in mind that budget airlines are typically not included in flight search (aside from websites/apps such as Skyscanner and Momondo).
Book your own flights (don’t always choose direct)
Being flexible with the route you take to your destination is one of the best (and one of my personal favorite) ways to get a cheap flight. So why book it yourself? Well, not only can you save some serious cash… booking non-direct flights can give you a lot more freedom in your travel itinerary. You might even be inspired to explore beautiful countries that you never previously considered!
Searching “Everywhere” on Skyscanner is one of my favorite methods to find cheap flights because it offers budget airline options (note: you can also try out Kiwi.com and AirWander for this method). You do need to be flexible and put in the time/effort for this to work in your favor! Follow these steps to search for non-direct flights using Skyscanner:
Open up your Skyscanner app and head to the flight search section.
Choose your departure destination and date, then choose “Everywhere” for your destination.
You are then able to view a number of potential flight routes you could take.
Play around with the potential flight routes you could take. I typically will start by choosing a few big cities that I know have cheap airports to fly into. As an example, let’s say that I want to go to Amsterdam on a one-way ticket. Listed below is a scenario of the steps I would take to find a cheap, non-direct route using the app:
I’ll open up Skyscanner and choose my preferred date of travel.
After searching for direct flights to Amsterdam for that date, I find that the airline ticket is $700.
I think I can find something a little cheaper, so I search from Orlando to “everywhere” instead.
I see an option from Orlando to London for $152, so I jot that down. There is also an option from Orlando to Dublin for $203. I see two more options I want to explore- Orlando to Oslo for $224 and Orlando to Berlin for $228.
I choose these cities from the list because I know that London, Dublin, Oslo and Berlin are some of the cheapest international airports to fly into.
From there, I search direct flights to Amsterdam from those 4 cities (making sure to give myself at least 3 hours between layovers/connections in case something goes wrong).
I then find the following flight prices to Amsterdam: London at $46, Dublin at $51, Oslo at $43 and Berlin at $68.
London wins at a total ticket price of $198, which definitely saves you some cash on the original $700 direct flight to Amsterdam.
Just be sure to note that luggage/extras won’t be included in your flight price, and this is how budget airlines usually get you! And always make sure you are leaving enough time between layovers/ connections… I cannot stress this enough! This method clearly does take some additional effort by requiring you to search a number of different route options. However, it may just be worth your time if you want to save some serious cash on your next flight.
Plan Ahead and book early… but not too early
Planning ahead of time is one of the most important steps in scoring cheap flights. But if we’re being honest here, I am the worst when it comes to travel planning, so this is advice I need to start taking myself. Regardless, if you want to snag those great flight deals, then planning ahead is typically the way to go. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find last-minute discounts on flights, but you certainly will have more options for cheap flights by planning well in advance.
If possible, try to begin your airline ticket search at least 3 months prior to your trip.
Sign up for email alerts from third party apps like Skyscanner or Hopper
While booking early is a great strategy in theory, you also don’t want to book too far in advance. There is actually a sweet spot when, based on demand, airlines will begin to either raise or lower ticket prices. Kayak looked at a year’s worth of data to see when airfares were at their lowest for a number of regions around the world. The booking site then estimated the number of weeks ahead that travelers should book flights for the following regions:
Within North America: 4-6 weeks ahead
Europe: 26 weeks ahead
Africa: 9 weeks ahead
South America: 3-6 weeks ahead
Central America: 4-5 weeks ahead
Asia: 5 weeks ahead
The Caribbean: 2-4 weeks ahead
While these estimations will by no means guarantee you the cheapest flight, they are a good starting point for travel planning. On average, the best time to book your flight will typically be around 6-8 weeks prior to your departure (but again, this depends on your destination). If you are heading to your destination during their peak season, you should try and book at least 12 weeks prior to departure.
Airline Rewards Programs:
Signing up for Airline rewards programs is one of the best ways to get free flights, upgrades and other luxuries.
You should be signed up to at least one airline’s reward program, regardless of how often you fly. You can earn miles in so many different ways- online shopping, surveys, credit card sign-up bonuses and more. This can earn you tons of miles in a year, without ever actually flying. This can result in multiple free flights every single year for you and your family. Be smart with your money and start racking up those rewards points!
Sign-up for Airline Mailing Lists
I know what you’re thinking: “Great, another subscription I don’t need”. But let’s be honest here— we all have a junk inbox, and signing up for airline mailing lists is actually one of the best ways to ensure you find a cheap flight to your next destination. By subscribing to these airlines or search engines, you will receive updates about all the last-minute deals or holiday sales going on. A majority of the time, cheap flights are only available for 24-48 hours. And if you aren’t constantly checking websites (which sounds exhausting to me), you will miss out on a good chunk of the cheap flight deals. On the other hand, if you’re subscribed to your favorite airlines or search engines, you can land some pretty incredible deals (I’ve definitely used this method to snag a few last-minute tickets from Florida to London for around $150 USD). Here are a few great websites to snag last-minute flights to anywhere:
Search for student discounts:
If you are a student (or under the age of 26), there are many flight discount options available that you can (and should!) take advantage of. Student discounts range from around 20-30% off the standard fee of an airline ticket. You can also snag student offers on international flights through travel agencies and booking sites!
Booking websites such as STA Travel, Flight Centre and StudentUniverse (which was actually acquired by Flight Centre in 2015) are good starting points to help you find a good flight discount. If you head to StudentUniverse.com/flights , you can find some of the best student discounts, promo codes and cheap flights to Europe, China or anywhere around the world (if you’re under 26, of course). StudentUniverse partners with airlines such as United Airlines, Virgin Australia, Air Canada, British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air China and LATAM Airlines to help bring you the cheapest flight deals to anywhere!
Search for tickets in other currencies:
Try to search for airline tickets in a country where the currency is weaker than your own. While using the same search engine, airline and flight, you can potentially find cheaper flights by simply booking in a different currency. I’ll admit- this tip won’t always work. But it’s definitely worth the try if you live in a country with a relatively strong currency.
Search for ticket prices as one person
This is one of the biggest mistakes traveling families make: don’t search for/book multiple tickets at one time. Airlines always display the highest ticket price in a group of tickets, which can be avoided by simply searching for tickets as a single traveler. For example: If you are traveling with five family members and searching for five seats, the airline is going to find five seats grouped together and display your total airfare based on the highest ticket price. In other words, if all of the seats are priced differently but the highest ticket price is $600, then the airline will price each individual ticket at $600. This makes your total airfare much higher than you should be paying.
All this does is find you cheaper tickets- you can easily pick your seats in the checkout process to ensure your family is able to stay together.
Well there ya have it- those are few of my best tips and tricks to help you score the cheapest flights to anywhere around the globe! Cheap airfare tickets are definitely out there if you are strategic enough! Follow the tips listed above and you will easily find a great deal… saving yourself a lot of time, stress AND money on your next flight ticket!
Do you have any sneaky hacks/tactics that have saved you some serious cash on flight tickets? Any budget airlines or other important information left out of my article? Comment below- I would love to hear from you!
Hi there! I’m Fallon. A Florida native who, after receiving my masters degree in the U.K., decided to nix the 9-5 path in search of something more. Now, I run my graphic and web design business straight from my laptop, all while traveling the world. I’ve now traveled to over 25 countries and have knocked some pretty big adventures off my bucket list… and I’m just getting started. Follow along my journey as I present tips, guides and resources on solo female travel, photography, videography, entrepreneurship & the crazy lifestyle of a digital nomad.