It all started with a few insanely cheap flights. Honestly- we were sitting at the office one day and saw a fare that we couldn’t refuse, and before you know it, we were packing our bags to head to Cuba for 4 days. Has that ever happened to you? Yes?
Nothing makes us happier than seeing people add travel to their bucket list. Travel can be the most enriching, soul-soothing, confidence-building experience you can give yourself.
So, if you’ve decided to pull your list together, and are going to add more countries to your list. Or you’ve decided to go back to the place that you fell in love with, and can’t wait to return.
What do you think the number 1 issue most people run into when planning to travel more?
Beside the limited vacation that most North Americans have?
You guessed it.
It’s not knowing how to find cheap flights to their destination.
Let’s be real, airfares tend to use up most of our vacation budgets these days- but, they don’t have to.
Knowing how to find insanely cheap flights is one of those easy to learn things that can open up so many different possibilities.
Here are some examples of cheap flight deals that we’ve been able to score:
- Toronto to Paris for less than $250 return
- New York to Hong Kong for less $400 return
- Buffalo to Miami for less than $100 return
- New York to Colombia for less $280 return
And the list goes on.
Do you want to know how we did it?
We were flexible. We knew where to look. We jumped on great deals as they came up, and built my holidays around that.
It’s that simple.
This is the most important part of finding really cheap tickets.
The chances of there being a super cheap ticket for the exact route that you want to fly, on the exact dates are very slim, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t up your odds.
Most people decide on a time and place, book the time off, then look for flights. That’s the opposite of how I do it.
The better way of doing is finding flights that fit your budget going to a place that you’d want to go, and then booking the time off.
If you really want to go the extra mile, flexibility includes accepting that some of the cheapest flights might have a long layover, especially when traveling long distance. Luckily, there’s tons of tips on how to make the most of long layover flights.
Carry-on only travel will change the way you travel, and how much cheaper you can get around. Not only will you save on luggage fees ( which is an additional cost on most flights now), but also time not waiting for your luggage at the airport. You’ll also be able to take advantage of services/options like Skiplagged (shown below).
KNOWING THE SECRET TOOLS TO FINDING INSANELY CHEAP FLIGHTS
Head over to Google Flights.
Instead of using specific dates, and locations search with the everywhere feature
This will allow you to pick general a general length of time- 1 week, 2 weeks etc, and the continent that you’re thinking of going to. It also allows you to pick the time of the year if you’re really keen.
Use this as your starting point and drill down further till the dates, and location pull together a trip that you’re happy with.
Tip: Make sure you’re searching in INCOGNITO window.
In case you’re not having the best of luck finding something that you like, try these tips:
One of the quickest ways to open up other airlines, routes etc. Some airlines only fly out of a location on certain days, and changing dates lets you get a better picture of your options.
Are there are any airports nearby that you can fly out of. As mentioned above, certain airlines only fly out of certain airports or use a particular airport as a hub. If the other airport is driveable, and the money that you save is worth the effort then this is a great way to save money on flights.
Google Flights is extremely handy in telling you if there’s a cheaper flight available. With a few tweaks to the search, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars. This is where being open to different dates can come in handy.
ROUND TRIP VS ONE WAY
Always search for a flight both as a round trip and as a one-way ticket. Sometimes you’ll find a round-trip ticket to be cheaper, in which case you can just not use the second leg of the flight.
MULTI CITY FLIGHTS
One of the best ways to get more out of your holiday is by using a multi city flight planner. This is perfect for when you want to see multiple cities, or countries on the same trip. Not only does it allow you to not be stuck coming back to the same location to catch your flight home, but allows you to extend your trip by adding new destinations to the list.
This works really well when you have multiple places that you wanted to see in the same region. For example, flying into Thailand, and out of the Philippines. Using a multi-destination ticket allows you to save on additional flights in the region.
WEBSITES TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
The holy grail for great flight deals, and possibly one that we’ve had the most luck with when it comes to cheap flights or error fares They post real-time deals, and error rates, and the flight deals can be sorted by region on their website.
The easiest way to make sure that you don’t miss anything is to follow them on FB and Twitter.
This is great for those who are flexible and are able to jump on a great deal. My $250 Toronto to Paris ticket was because of SF!
This site is great for tracking fares on a certain route. You plug in your desired route or your departure airport and you’ll get notifications letting you know when there’s movement in the prices.
This is great for those who have non-flexible travel plans and want to get the best deal.
The second best place to find and book cheap flights. As Skyscanner is an aggregator, it pulls rates from the majority of airlines and shows you the cheapest rates for a specific route.
You can also use it’s “Everywhere” feature where you insert your airport and it will show you all the places that you can fly to ranked by rates.
Another neat feature is being to see rates to a specific destination over an entire month. Great for those with flexible schedules.
Similar to Secret Flying. Pulls flight deals together.
Another similar site, but mostly for flights originating in the US. Follow them on Twitter or FB to not miss out on great flights!
A great flight deal aggregator that can pull deals based on any location/airport that you provide.
This is the secret of the flight world. Skiplagged looks at multi leg flights ( the first leg is going to your final destination) and finds flights that might be cheaper if you skip the second leg.
In simpler terms, say you want to fly to Austin. Skiplagged looks at all the flights and finds that the cheapest flight is a flight to LA with a stopover in Austin. So you book that flight and don’t bother flying the Austin to LA route.
Note: This only works for one-way tickets, and you should always you can only fly with a carry-on otherwise your luggage will be checked to your final destination.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This is the holy grail for insanely cheap flights. Error fares are generally just that- errors- sometimes human, sometimes computer glitches. Either way, error fares are where you will those crazy deals. More often than not, these fares are found sites like Expedia, CheapOair etc, and not on the airline’s site.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is a possibility that the airline might decide to not honour them. Always make sure that you have your flight confirmation in your inbox before booking further components of your trip such as hotels, connecting flights.
One of the best ways to get a deal on a flight is to keep on the new routes that an airline launches. Sometimes they offer the route at a discounted rate. If you live you in a hub city, pay close attention to what connecting routes make the most sense to get you to your destination.
While this might sound like the most obvious thing, but most people don’t know that airlines do have sales as well- everything from transcontinental to regional ones. This is best utilized if you have time to wait around and check and for the flights or on regional flights.
Airlines like Easy Jet, Ryanair, Spirit Airlines have great sales such as flights from the UK to France for $9 or so. The key here is to jump on the chance as soon as you see them because they don’t last a long time.
PRO-TIP: Be sure to add the luggage fee to your ticket otherwise you’ll be hit with additional fees later. Sometimes those baggage fees can be way more than the cost of the ticket.
OTHER WAYS TO GET CHEAP OR FREE FLIGHTS
Don’t want to wait around for error fares?
Don’t worry, there a few other ways to get really cheap tickets as well.
If you’re serious about collecting passport stamps, and seeing new places, then having a great point credit card is one of the most important things you can do. There’s an entire world of point hacking that not only can get you free/ or really reduced flights but can also get additional perks like business class upgrades and lounge access.
I’m a huge fan of the American Express Platinum and American Express Gold Credit Cards and have both.
One of the reasons I signed up for them was for the sign-up bonuses. American Express Platinum Small Business Card (even though it’s it’s a business card, they don’t actually check if you have a business) gives you 75,000 membership rewards if you get referred – which is enough for 2 short haul flights.
Understanding how to use your points is just as important as collecting them, but if used correctly, you can see the world with points.
Please make sure that you don’t go into debt when getting a credit card, or booking a flight. Because that’s not smart.
WORK GETAWAY EXTENSIONS
Another easy way to get cheaper flights is extending work trips. For example, last fall I was invited to speak at a conference in Asia, and work covered my flights. Instead of coming home right after the conference, I asked them to book my flight back a few days later and used my vacation to get the days off.
Since I was already in Thailand, I didn’t have to spend my time looking for cheap international tickets, but rather, I spent less $70 flying to Bali for a few days. Being open to extending your trips, and taking advantage of your geographical location can open up a lot more opportunities to see more of the world.
This by far is my favorite way to get cheap or free flights above credit card points. Airline vouchers are the travel certificates that are offered when you’re bumped from your flight. Normally these can range anywhere from $100-$1000. I tend to opt for these anytime I’m not in a rush to get somewhere, or don’t have to catch a connecting flight.
TIP: Early morning commuter flights are the sweet spot for free airline vouchers. Most weekday passengers can’t miss their flights so the airlines keep bumping the amount of the reward until enough people take them up on it.
These vouchers can be used to pay for any flights directly on the airline’s website. They do, however, have come with an expiry date so make sure that you’re keeping an eye on that.
And there you have it. Your guide on how to find insanely cheap flights so you can make your travel budget go so much further. So regardless of whether you’re a nomad, or only have a few weeks of vacation every year, finding cheap flights shouldn’t be the thing that you’re worried about.
Spend your time, and money enjoying the destination.