We have all been there, sitting in front of the computer for hours, searching and searching for the cheapest airfare. I have sat with my fingers crossed, just hoping that today is the right day for everything to align and my cheap flight will magically appear. After lots of wasted time and disappointment, I learned some very necessary tips for finding cheap airfare. Trust me, these tips work. Marty and I found a $21 flight from Nuremberg to London on one of our European trips! We also flew from Dallas to San Francisco for $69 using these tips to find cheap airfare as well!
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Top Tips for Finding Cheap Airfare
1. Have Flexible Dates
If at all possible, be flexible with your dates of travel. This can make a HUGE difference in the cost of airfare. On a recent search I performed from Dallas to Paris, comparing flights leaving on a Saturday, there was a $300 price difference from one weekend to the next! I don’t know about you, but I never mind saving $300!
Knowing peak, or high, travel season for your area of interest is also beneficial. If you are keeping your dates flexible, always travel outside of peak season. For example, summer is the high season for Europe. If planning a trip to Europe, try to visit in spring or fall. Not only will you experience fewer crowds, you will also get cheaper rates for flights and hotels.
The Paris example above was found using Google Flights. You enter your departure and destination airport, and then when you are putting in your days, you can use one of the three options given: calendar, flexible days, or price graph. The calendar shows you the price on each specific day, while the flexible days’ options allow you to easily compare departure and return prices so that you can find the best deal. The price graph shows trends based on historical data for the information you searched. You can hover your mouse over each bar on the graph to get more specific information.
2. Be Flexible with Your Destination
Having flexible dates might not be an option for you. Being public servants, Marty and I completely understand that. One thing we can do though is to be flexible with our destinations. Recently, we began planning another trip to Europe. When we first started researching this trip, we were going to Northern Italy and Bavarian Germany. Because of airline prices, London has now been added to our trip. We found tickets in and out London for half of the price as anywhere else in Europe, so it just made sense to spend a few days in London.
There are multiple search engines that you can use to find flights, but when searching for flexible destinations I prefer to use Kiwi.
Using Kiwi, you can type in your departure airport, and then in the “destination” box, put “anywhere” or “Europe”. You can put in specific dates, a date range, or “anytime” in the date box and, voila, the search engine shows you options all over!
On Google Flights, they have a “discover destinations” feature that is great as well. I love to type in “Europe” or “United States” into the destination box and then use the map to explore areas that fit into my budget.
Why not check into a stopover on the way to your destination as well? Stopovers are a great way to see an extra destination for no extra cost!
3. Use a Great Search Engine
Familiarize yourself with several search engines, and find the one that best suits your needs for the particular trip you are booking. All search engines have pros and cons, and we usually search for several to find the best price. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Jetradar-includes budget airlines
- Kiwi-guaranteed arrival for combined flights.
- Cheap Flights
- Google Flights
4. Be Ready to Book
This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. I cannot tell you how many times I have come across a good fare but didn’t grab it when I saw it. Airfare changes daily, heck, almost hourly. When you come across a good fare, buy it!
Do your research first, using the tools mentioned above. Look at the trends for prices based upon your search criteria to get a ballpark figure. Once you are educated about the approximate price, you will feel more confident in buying when you come across a fare that falls into that price range. I used to have a bad habit of waiting too long, hoping I could get the flight cheaper, only to watch the fares increase.
5. Sign Up for E-mails, Frequent Flyer Accounts, Credit Cards
I cannot stress this enough. We recently took a 5 day trip to Las Vegas for free! No, we didn’t have to attend any timeshare presentations. We simply used the reward points we received from our credit card. We have a travel reward credit card with our bank, and we charge EVERYTHING on it for the month. I mean EVERYTHING: socks, groceries, gas, eating out, etc. Then at the end of the month, we pay it off and earn the rewards. Not only did we get to pay for our trip to Las Vegas this way, we also used an $1100 statement credit to go toward our trip to Europe.
Signing up for credit cards is not the only way to earn. All airlines have a frequent flyer program that you can join for free. You can also sign up on their websites for e-mail notifications. E-mail notifications allow you to know instantly if there are sales so you can grab a cheap ticket before they sell out!
Please comment below and tell us how you find cheap airfare and don’t forget to sign up for the blog while you’re here. We don’t want you to miss a minute of the tips, tricks, and stories!
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