Traveling is great but paying for flights suck. Since airfare is typically one of the most expensive parts of a trip, you need to keep this cost as low as possible. If the flight is too expensive, you’re probably not going to go there right? I‘ve wasted hundreds of dollars over-paying for flights but I’ve finally cracked the code for how to get cheap flights to anywhere. I’m here to make sure you don’t make those same mistakes!
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1. Clear your cookies and use Incognito Mode when searching for flights.
Cookies are tracking code that monitors your activity online and keeps track of what you’re searching/purchasing. Incognito mode ensures that everything you’re browsing is private and your information will not be tracked so the prices won’t be affected by your search history.
Before starting your search, clear your cookies to remove any stored data and then open a new incognito/private browsing window.
2. Use Flight Search Engines
Flight search engines are the best because they search the web to get the best price from almost all websites! There are a few budget airlines like Southwest.com that aren’t on cumulative sites like Skyscanner, so you’ll need to check directly on their site.
These are the flight engines I always use:
Skyscanner.com – I love this site and book 95% of my flights using it. Skyscanner usually has the cheapest airfare and has great search functions to get the best price (more in step 4.)
Momondo.com – Another cumulative site similar to Skyscanner that sometimes has cheaper fares. (I always compare both!)
Kiwi.com – Great site that combines airlines to give you the best price! Found some cheap flights for $50 while in Peru using this site.
Google Flights – It’s a good tool to compare prices and gives you a good idea of the amount to expect.
AirWander.com – Best site to add in extended layovers. You can choose the place and the number of days for the layover so you get to see more places for the same price!
JetRader.com – This site includes budget airlines which many cumulative sites don’t!
Hopper App – This doesn’t have a website, it’s strictly an app right now. Use this to set alerts that tell you when the best time to buy a flight is. Hopper predicts prices with 95% accuracy up to 1 year in advance and has helped over 30M people!
Since flights are the biggest cost in my travel experiences I always do my due diligence to get the best price by searching all of these sites. If you don’t have the patience for this, then use Skyscanner.com. After comparing sites, I usually find that it gives me the best price!
3. Be Flexible with travel dates and avoid peak travel months
The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the more you can save! Think about it, if there is a holiday, summertime when the whole family has time off, or it’s the weekend – many people will want to travel. Heck, you want to too! These are the worst times to travel as airlines will have increased flight prices. Avoid peak travel months and be flexible with your dates. You can save hundred leaving in the middle of the week. I’ve found Tuesday -Thursday usually have the cheapest rates. (You can use Skyscanner to find the cheapest dates which I’ll explain in step 4).
peak travel months
The CHEAPEST time to fly in North America and Europe is usually:
- January through mid-May
- September through early December
The most expensive time to fly is usually:
- Peak summer: mid-June through mid-August
- Christmas (Expensive everywhere)
- New Year’s Eve (Expensive everywhere)
4. Be Flexible with your destination
Sometimes it’s hard to be flexible with when you can fly. With jobs in North America only giving 2 weeks of vacation, it’s important to use holidays to extend vacations a little longer. If you can’t be too flexible with your dates, try to be flexible with where you go. But don’t forget about visa requirements as some can be very expensive.
Related: How Europe’s Schengen Visa Works
5. find the cheapest flight dates/Destination
If you are flexible with dates/destination follow these steps:
1. Go to SkyScanner.com
2. From: Your departing city –> To: Everywhere then in the dates select the Cheapest Month option and SEARCH.
3. The search will result in a list of places and give the cheapest prices available.
4. The drop-down arrow will give you more cities in that country to choose from. Choose the city you prefer.
5. Choose the city you want to go to and you’ll be directed to a page with the calendar dates of the cheapest flights available. Choose the departure date (the price you see is for departure only) and choose the return date. These two prices will be added together to give you the final airfare.
6. Scroll through the options and choose the flight times you prefer!
8. Finally, book it!
If you can’t be flexible follow these steps:
1. Follow the same steps as above but choose ONE WAY.
2. Enter the destination and the month you want to travel from the departure city. Record the cheapest dates for departure.
4. Start a new search for Roundtrip Flight using those cheap departure/return dates.
6. Mix and Match airlines to find the cheapest place
Similarly to Skyscanner, Kiwi.com will show you the cheapest places to fly to by mixing/matching all airlines to get you the cheapest flight. The difference is that Skyscanner.com doesn’t always include budget airlines in their results, where Kiwi.com does.
Just go to Kiwi.com, select your departing city and choose “anywhere” as your destination. It will then show the prices of flights to everywhere and you can zoom in to see the prices in specific places you’re interested in.
When you click on the flight, it will mix and match budget airlines to give you the cheapest flight!
What are really good roundtrip fares from the United States or Canada?
- Central America: $300 or below roundtrip
- Caribbean: $300 or below roundtrip
- Asia: $600 or below roundtrip
- Africa: $800 or below roundtrip
- Australia: $800 or below roundtrip
- Europe: $500 or below roundtrip
- Hawaii: $400 or below roundtrip
*Prices in USD
7. Search prices as one person (then compare as a group)
The benefit of buying tickets as a group is that you’re typically guaranteed to be seated together on the flight. If you don’t mind sitting apart, then this is a great option because flights are usually cheaper when you book as one person.
Airlines always charge the highest price for group seats so if you are a family of four:
Book separately and you could save hundreds!
8. Pack Light
Carry-on only is the goal but I know that’s just not possible for some people. I struggled with it too! But then I went backpacking for a year through South America which has the most diverse weather (I went from being in the desert in Huacachina to winter weather in the mountain city of Huaraz in one day lol.) and only used a backpack.
Packing light is great for so many reasons like easier to keep track of, ease of transport, no waiting to pick up luggage and most importantly you can get great budget airline flights and avoid all baggage fees!
You really don’t need all the stuff you’re planning to bring so keep it simple. Here’s a great post on how to use carry on only as a family of FOUR!
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9. Take advantage of Error Fares and Special deals
There are many popular sites that scour the internet and find error fares and special deals for you. They do all the work finding the deals and you get great cheap flights as long as you’re flexible with your dates. These deals don’t last long, typically only for 24-48 hours. Sign up for their mailing lists to be notified when there are deals in your area. You can save hundreds of dollars with these sites, and some people have scored amazing deals like flights for less than $400 RT to Asia/Europe.
I also recommend following them all on Twitter because it’s the fastest way to get notified when awesome deals are available from your departing city.
Here are the top error fare sites I recommend for getting the cheapest flights in 2019:
- Secret Flying – Deals from around the world
- Airfarewatchdog – Excellent resource for US flight Deals and deals from Major Canadian cities
- Scotts Cheap Flights – The best for US flight deals. They have a free and premium version. The free version is great but is limited and the premium version gives you a lot of perks like immediate flight deals, peak season deals, error fares and more. For most people the free version is enough 🙂
- I Know the Pilot – The best for finding deals from Australia/New Zealand to Bali, Japan, Hawaii and more
- The Flight Deal – Amazing site for Global flight deals
- Holiday Pirates – Great for deals in Europe
- YYZ Deals – Deals from Toronto and other major cities in Canada
- Next Departure – Discounted flights/error fares from Canada
- Next Vacay – Paid service of $25/year that searches deals from your departing airport and emails deals directly to you
10. Don’t always fly direct
Sometimes you can save hundreds by flying to cheaper destinations and then using a budget airline to get to your final destination.
Once I saved almost $300 flying to Malaysia by flying to Bangkok first for $400 and then getting a RT flight from Bangkok to Malaysia using budget airline Air Asia for only $100. The direct flight to Malaysia was going to cost $800.
I spent a little extra time going to Bangkok first, but I got to experience two countries in one trip and saved $300 in the process! `
steps To do this:
2. Using Google Flights, check the destination’s continent to see if there are cheaper flights to somewhere else on the continent. For example, when I searched Asia I found that it was cheaper to fly to Bangkok, only $400.
3. Next, use Skyscanner/Momondo/Budget airlines to check to see how much it would cost to fly from the alternate airport (Bangkok) to your ideal destination (Malaysia). Skyscanner showed me a great flight for $100 with AirAsia.
If the dates/time work out then you just saved yourself some money!
Personally, I would not book the connecting flight hours apart. You should do this method if you can spend at least one day in the destination in case your flight is canceled/delayed or you can’t make it for some reason out of your control. Since you would be booking the connecting flight separately, if you miss it, you’re screwed.
This is what I did:
I booked my flight to Bangkok for the 11th and explored the city and stayed the night near the airport then booked my RT flight from Bangkok to Malaysia for the 12th-19th and spent the 19th in Bangkok before my return flight home on the 20th.
AirWander is another great site that allows you to build in extended layovers into your flight which may be cheaper than flying direct and allow you to see two places for the price of one. I love this site!
11. Go to 2 Destinations for the price of one
Building off of the previous point, you can build in extended layovers into your flight to visit two places for the price of one.
If you’re flying somewhere that has a transfer, it may be cheaper to book the two legs of the trip on your own and build an extended layover into your trip.
For example, on our flight from Australia to Toronto, there was a connection in Vancouver. Instead of booking that flight, we booked a one-way flight using a budget airline from Sydney to Vancouver. Then we did a 2-week road trip from Vancouver to Banff, Alberta. From Banff, we flew on another budget airline to Toronto. We were able to save over $300 each AND got to have an incredible experience driving through the Canadian Rockies.
You can do this usinf the multicity option, but in my experience, that has always been more expensive and doesn’t typically include budget airlines.
You can use Skyscanner.com to do this on your own and compare flight prices. Alternatively, Kiwi.com and Airwander.com are both great sites that will show you cheaper routes involving multiple budget airlines. I recommend checking all of them.
12. Fly to the less popular airport
Some places, like Bangkok for example, have multiple airports that you can fly in to. See if it’s cheaper to fly into the alternate airport and you may be able to find huge savings. I saved about $200 flying into Don Mueang Airport (DMK) instead of the popular Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). DMK is a bit further out of the city so I paid a little more in transport from the airport to the city but even still the savings were worth it!
13. Use Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are the best! If you pack light and use a carry on only, you can avoid all extra baggage fees. If you can’t do carry-on only as yet, no worries. The extra luggage fees usually range between $20-$50 so even with this added on budget airlines can still be cheaper.
We are lucky because now you can get the cheapest flights in 2019 using budget airlines, and there are SO many! Here’s a list of budget airlines available in each Country.
- Air Asia
- Tiger Air
- Jeju Air
- Hong Kong Express
- Spice Jet
- Peach Air
- Nok Air
- T’WAy Airlines
- Spring Airlines
- Vanilla Air
- Dragon Air
- Vietnamese Airlines
- Ryan Air
- Aigle Azur
- Wizz Air
- Norwegian Air
- Iberia Express
- Aer Lingus
- Tiger Air
- Air New Zealand
Warning: Budget airlines are able to have such cheap prices because they offer minimal service and find lots of creative ways to charge you more. Be mindful of this and check all additional fees. They can have fees for: Baggage, Paying with a credit card, Boarding passes and more. Read the details before booking to ensure it will actually be cheaper to use a budget airline!
14. Book directly on the airline’s website
After you’ve checked the price for your flight using Skyscanner or Momondo, always check the price of the flight on the airline’s website. Since airlines have to share a cut of their profits with sites like Skyscanner and Momondo, you can sometimes get a cheaper deal booking your flight directly on their site. It’s hit and miss, but worth a try.
15. Use student discounts
Oh to be a student again. Although you have lots of studying to do and you feel stressed out about school, being a student really can be the best time of your life. You’re in the sweet spot between being an adult and still being a kid with minimal responsibilities AND you get tons of perks and discounts! USE THEM!
If you’re unsure if you can get a student discount, just call and ask!
16. Use points to get free flights
There are tons of travel credit cards that offer huge perks! Many of them come with huge Sign-Up Bonuses which can often be enough for a free flight. Typically there is a minimum spend you must complete within the first 3 months of signing up in order to get the points but if you pay for everything using your card, it’s not too hard to do.
Important: I do not recommend going in to credit card debt to get points. This method is only recommended if you always pay your bill in full each month.
There are tons of people who have used this method to travel the world for free like Nomadic Matt and The Points Guy. They share amazing tips for you to get started. I’ll be creating a post on this soon, but for now, check em out.
17. Search for flights in a different currency
If your currency is stronger than others in the world like the U.S Dollar or the Great British Pound then you may be able to get the same flight for much cheaper if you switch to the weaker currency. I’ve gotten cheaper flights when booking a flight to Thailand and paying in the local currency instead of Canadian dollars. On many flight search engine sites, it’s easy to switch currencies. While it doesn’t always work, you should always check to see if you can get the flight cheaper!
IMPORTANT: You should only use this tip if you’re booking with a credit card that is free for foreign transactions. If you don’t, your savings will be gone and you may even end up paying more due to surcharges/fees.
18. Book at the right time
Booking your flight at the last minute or too far in advance is likely to result in overpaying for your flight. Flight prices are all based on demand, so if you book too early or too late, you’ll end up paying more than you should. The sweet spot for booking your flight is typically between 6-8 weeks.
Use the Hopper app for alerts on the best times to book your flight!
Phew! This post is way longer than I intended, but it is packed with all the information to help you get the cheapest flights to anywhere! If you use these tips, you will save hundreds on your next flight! If this wasn’t enough, check out this great post with excellent ideas to help you save money on your next flights.
If you found this post to be helpful on how to get the cheapest flight to anywhere, please comment and share!
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