The Bucket List Guide to Cheap Flights

The Bucket List Guide to Cheap Flights

One of the questions I most often get is “how do you afford to travel so much?” With the high cost of airfare these days, the question is not surprising. However, with a lot of research, I have developed a personal strategy to help me save money on flights to various bucket list locations. I have compiled it all into one place to make it easier for you to travel to your own bucket list destinations. So, here is The Bucket List Guide to Cheap Flights.

Use Multiple Search Tools

If you are flying to a specific destination, I recommend searching multiple flight comparison sites. It is true that most flight search tools often have with similar results. However, some will have additional results that will fit your budget, so it is worth taking the time to search multiple sites. Here are the websites I use on a regular basis to help me snag great prices on flights:

  • Momondo Momondo US Search Flights is definitely one of my first stops when looking for flights to any destination. It is a global travel search site comparing billions of cheap flights, hotels and car hire deals. They can  help you find and compare fares from 700+ travel sites, giving you access to the best rates for airline tickets online. Click Here to find great prices on flights at Momondo.
  • SkyScanner Skyscanner is another one of my favorite flight price comparison sites. It allows flexible search options where you can browse prices across a whole month, or even a year. One of the best features is that if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, you can type in “Everywhere” in the destination field. This will allow you to find flight deals on bucket list destinations you may not have even considered. Find cheap flights and book today with Skyscanner.
  • Kiwi – Kiwi is definitely on the list of sites we always check when looking for flights. They help me find and book cheap flights anywhere in the world. For example, Darcee & I were able to get one way tickets from London to Boston for around $165 USD each!  Another one of the features I like is the flight map they provide from any departure city you enter. So if you are looking to just get away, just fill in your city of departure and find great prices to anywhere on the map. Just CLICK HERE & See for yourself!
  • CheapOAir – Save BIG on cheap tickets with CheapOair! I like them because they offer cheap flights year round. Travel for less with their cheap tickets! One of their great features is that they often have deals on last minute flights and often offer promo codes to save you extra money. Click on this link if you need Cheap Last Minute Flights!
  • Google Flights – A unique way to choose your flight from a simple list of results, explore destinations on a map and find travel dates with the lowest fare.
Just found a great resource on how to save money on flights! #travel #cheapplanetickets Click To Tweet

Subscribe to Flight Deal Emails

One of the ways I land great flight deals is by email! Everyday, I receive several emails from different companies that scour airlines for unbelievable prices to random destinations. They only catch is that they send you a list of flights from miscellaneous starting points. However, this is how I scored an unbelievable round trip flight deal from Miami to Germany for Oktoberfest for around $325 (USD)! Along with specific airlines (mentioned in another section), I subscribe to the following email newsletters to that help me find great prices on flights around the world:

  • The Fare Deal Alert – They send daily, bargain suggestions on flights. What I like is that they search for flights that should not be more than 6 cents per mile and they try to only publish fares that meet that criteria.
  • The Flight Deal – The Flight Deal is the twin of The Fare Deal Alert but they often send different flight deals. They also try to only publish fares that meet the same simple 6 cents per mile or less criteria.

Use Social Media

The biggest problem with “flight deals” is that you sometimes miss them. However, using Facebook and Twitter can actually help you land some flight deals before they expire. Obviously, consider following your favorite airlines and even your local airport for updates. I recommend also following the sites listed above to get updates. A few other sites that post daily with great flight deals are below:

  • Travel Pirates on Facebook – Travel Pirates pride themselves on their ability to find cheap flights, hotels and vacation packages for their followers. I also like how they often post travel tips, tricks, and ideas that anyone can use.
  • Secret Flying on Facebook – Secret Flying is a team of passionate travelers who provide details to the most incredible flight deals. When they find a great deal, they immediately post information about the fare on social media and their website.

Join Frequent Flyer Programs

This may sound like a no brainer, but I am always surprised how many people don’t get the miles for their flights. I sign up for every frequent flyer program available and make sure to enter in my numbers for each flight no matter how small. This inevitably has resulted in upgrades to better seats and many free flights around the country. Also, this is a great way to get information on sales, promotional codes, and travel information. So, be sure you have signed up for the airlines’ email list as well.

Create Specific Flight Alerts

If you know where you want to go and you have some time before your big trip, I strongly recommend you set up a travel price alert. Instead of constantly searching for a future trip, I will set up several travel alerts through 2 or 3 different websites that will send notifications when there is a price change. These are the sites I personally have found offer the best alerts:

  • Airfare Watchdog – Airfare Watchdog is an airfare monitoring and alert site that provides free fare alerts to subscribers and visitors. They make it easy to sign up for their free email airfare alerts with your personal airline preferences. What I like is that they also include bargain airlines. Click Here to set up Price Alerts with Airfare Watchdog!
  • Skyscanner – So here is Skyscanner again. But for good reason, they are good! Skyscanner Price Alerts are free, and simple to get. You’ll be sent an email informing you of any price changes as soon as they happen so you won’t miss out on a cheap deal. All you have to do is perform a search for your trip, if the price isn’t right yet, you can click on the “Get Price Alerts” on the top left and your done! Click Here to set up Price Alerts with Skyscanner!
  • Booking Buddy – is a free service designed to help travelers search all their favorite travel websites with fewer clicks and in less time. What I love is that this TripAdvisor company has a simple way to alert me when fares drop from  my destination. All you have to do is click on the box next to “Alert me when fares drop from …” and you are good to go! Click Here to set up Price Alerts with Booking Buddy!

Figure out When to Buy

So if you search, “When should I Buy Airplane Tickets” you will get countless websites giving you hundreds of different answers. However, in research both online and from my personal experiences, I have found that buying plane tickets on Tuesday in the afternoon tends to be the best for prices.

In terms of how long prior to your trip, there have been several studies that show about 7 weeks or 54 days prior to your trip tends to be the lowest price. However, in that same study, it showed that too early you pay too much. So I recommend first setting up a Price Alert about 3 months prior to your trip if possible. Also, if you see a great deal from a fare deal email or social media, jump on it no matter how far out it is.

Play Around with Your Flight Options

I have found one of the biggest ways to save money on flights is to be flexible and think a little out of the box. With the airline industry and internet constantly changing, there really aren’t any set rules anymore. Therefore, you need a little flexibility if you want to save money. When possible, consider these alternatives when booking your plane tickets:

  • Play Around with Your Travel Dates – This is perhaps one of the few flight options that has always led to higher costs for most people. Traditionally, flying on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturdays have always been cheaper. So, I recommend starting your search to fly on those days first. However, this may not always be true, so use the calendar in your flight search to explore. (For example: I was able to fly out of London to Boston for $100 less on a Monday instead of Tuesday all because I checked)
    • Check Travel Dates before asking for time off from work – I used to be guilty of this and I am sure many others are too. People often ask off of work (usually for a Monday with a weeklong vacation or for Friday for a weekend trip) and then they have trapped themselves with limited travel days. Therefore, if you are considering a trip, start researching first before asking the boss for the time off!
  • Play Around with Your Airports – This next biggest challenge to saving money on flights is not only your destination airport, but sometimes your airport of departure. So I always play around with both my departure airport & destination airport.
    • Departure Airport – Living in New Orleans is great for flights around the southern United States or to Latin America, but it sometimes cost me a pretty penny to fly to major cities around the world. Not to mention, I often have to connect somewhere like Atlanta or Houston for national flights or Miami, Boston, New York City, or Los Angeles for international. So, if I am not happy with my cost to fly out of New Orleans, I start researching.
      • First, I look at where the search engine has me connecting. I then start a new search to see if the cost from the connection to my final destination is considerably cheaper. Then I do another search to see if I can get to that middle connection cheaper, use airline miles for a free ticket there, or find a cheaper alternative to get there.
      • If the middle connection cities aren’t cheaper, then I use options like the Google Flights map to see if they list a city that is considerably cheaper to fly out of to my destination. If there is one listed that fits the bill, then I do another search to see if I can get a connection to there cheaper, use airline miles for a free ticket there, or find a cheaper alternative to get there. For example: New Orleans to Cologne, Germany can cost on average $1,200 round trip but I snagged a ticket from Miami to Cologne for $325. Flights from New Orleans to Miami round trip tend to average $225. So if I just take the easy way and pay for my New Orleans to Miami flights and then on to Cologne, I will spend $550 versus the $1200 from New Orleans to Cologne, Germany. That is a savings of $650 for Beer and Brats and other travel adventures!
    • Destination Airport – Your destination airport can also be costly. Now with the flight search sites listed above, it is really easy to click on “search nearby airports” and you will get additional results that will save you some considerable money. This works great for large metro cities around the world that usually have several airports within the city limits. However, when flying to other places perhaps consider other cities or even nearby countries. For example, last year I wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago, but every airport in Spain and France consistently quoted me a price around $700. So I used my Google Flights map to discover that if I flew to Lisbon, Portugal, it would only cost $400 and then I found a great train ticket via RailEurope to St. Jean Pied de Port for around $100. That saved me $200 for lots of great Spanish Red Wine and Tapas!
  • Play around with One Way Tickets – We are so trained to buy round trip tickets! However, the airlines will sometimes ding you on that. So, I often look at “One Way” tickets to see if it will save me money – sometimes it is cheaper to book two separate one-way tickets with different airlines than a round trip with the same airline. Also, I often find that I have enough airline miles for a free one way ticket, which helps. So then I will buy the cheaper “One Way” and use my miles to save versus a higher priced round trip ticket.
  • Consider Flying Alone – Now this doesn’t mean you have to leave your loved ones at home while you fly to some exotic resort. Unless you want it to mean that! Ha! But seriously, research single tickets versus group tickets. Sometimes special deals might be available for single tickets but not for group ones. Then when booking your tickets you can manage seats or arrive early at the airport and ask the airline attendant for help.

Learn how to save money on flights! #CheapPlanetickets #travel Click To Tweet

Go Incognito!

Now this doesn’t mean showing up at the airport in sunglasses and a trench coat unless you want to become really friendly with TSA. No, what I am referring to is to hide your computer and your cookies from search sites. I can’t tell you how many times I searched one of the great sites listed above and then came back a while later to see the ticket price somewhat inflated. So how do you hide yourself? There are 3 main ways:

  • Clean out your cookies – Before going to a search site, go to your tools tab and click on internet options. Then under the general tab you will see a section that says “Browsing History” and click the delete button.
  • Use Incognito Mode – This is my favorite way to search. With Explorer, go to Tools at the top and then click on “InPrivate Browsing.” In Chrome, near the address bar at the top click on the 3 dots on the right and click “New Incognito Window.” Either way will open up a new window that you can use your favorite search site without having your past browsing or cookies used against you.
  • Use a VPN – I haven’t used this method yet. But from what I have researched, using a VPN can hide your location and you can even change your location.  This can allow you to use search websites from different countries to possibly land you cheaper flights.

What tools do you use to help you save money on flights? Do you have other must-use search tools or websites? Share them in the comments!

Don’t forget to Pin this to your Bucket List Board!

 

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116 thoughts on “The Bucket List Guide to Cheap Flights

  1. THIS IS SO HELPFUL. Flying is always so expensive it makes me want to cry, but this is definitely going to be a new resource for me.

  2. Our family’s trick is to pay for EVERYTHING on our credit cards (we still pay off the bill each month) and use a card that racks up frequent flyer miles. We haven’t paid for a flight in years!

    1. Yeah if you are extremely disciplined then that is a possibility, however most people are not. Therefore, I don’t recommend recommend risking the temptation to not pay. I’ve been credit card and debt free for 5+ years and love it. Glad it works for you though

    1. yeah, I usually go “incognito” but I have heard that a VPN can offer similar benefits or even allow you to change your “location” to get cheaper tix

  3. Great tips, Eric! I will be bookmarking this post. I think I may even check out some of these affiliate links for the next trip I may take. So, thank you so much.

  4. This is an awesome, thorough post! I had never heard of Momondo before but I’m definitely adding that to my list of tools. We started making travel a bigger priority so we need to save all the $$$ we can lol

  5. This is a great guide! Typing “Everywhere” in the destination field of Skyscanner is one of my favourite methods of finding cheap flights. It makes for some great last minute ideas too! I will have to try and remember to search for flights in incognito mode next time.. Thanks for this!

  6. Thorough list of sites! Have you tried the Hopper app? I used it to book a flight to Europe this summer. I like that is tells you when you buy or when to wait.

  7. Such great tips, I think often when people “can’t find” cheaper deals, what they mean is they aren’t willing to invest the time it takes to follow all these strategies and be flexible as well. That’s OK, it’s down to everyone to work out their time / cost ratio to decide how much of one they’ll spend to save on the other. But that’s usually the thing. Also, your last tip on incognito browsing is a big one, I’ve found this myself too, so many of the airlines use cookies now to gauge interest and inflate prices!!!

  8. These are all fantastic tips and thanks for the reminder to clear out those cookies! I often forget that social media is a place to search for travel deals, so thanks for that additional tip.

  9. I love traveling and prefer doing it on the cheap, why should I spend more money than necessary to airlines when we all get there at the same time cheap ticket or expensive for the same flight.
    These are some useful tips,thanks for sharing.

  10. Really great tips – I use the skyscanner app which is great because I can scan flights on my phone and I love the “everywhere” function which brings up the cheapest flights from your closest airport to anywhere in the world. Awesome for spontaneous travel :D!

  11. Amazing tips, thanks for sharing. I use Skyscanner a lot but I think I need to give Google flights a go too. Cleaning your cookies is a great tip too.

  12. Wow, you hit on everything! I tend to start out strong with the intent to get a good deal and then get frustrated and book the best I came up with. I need to get better at this for sure

    1. Not going to lie SheriAnne, that happens to me sometimes too, but I keep reminding myself that it’s my money for fun while I am there so why give it to the big airline corporations

  13. I’ve heard of several of these tips, but what really stood out to me was utilizing social media and going incognito on your computer! I’ll definitely be trying those in the upcoming months since I have several trips planned!

  14. Wow, this are some great tips. I only knew about skyscanner and momondo. Haven’t had success with Google flights yet. I definitely agree son figure out good time to book the flights and sign up for newsletters. I love kiwi.com and Norwegian airlines with them I always find the cheapest tickets to urope from the Americas. I will definitely think about this when booking my ticket from Europe to the us this August. 😀

  15. Great tips! I’ve found playing around with different airports and booking 2 one way tickets to be so effective. I’ve heard of some of the other tactics but I’m excited to try some of the others that are new to me:)

  16. That’s a very useful blog post, I will share and bookmark this! Thank you for putting this together!! And I love Secret Flying, their newsletter is golden!

    May I add Kiwi (dot) com ? Have you heard of it? It’a another flight search engine, but it can combine low cost carriers with commercial airlines and they give you a guarantee (if you miss the connection, they will cover you with a new flight and hotel if needed.) Check them out, I love them.

    1. Hey Sabrina yeah I love kiwi also. I experimented with them on our flight to the UK. They definitely saved me money however I’m still a little iffy about how they send out the flight information as I had a couple of minor challenges with receiving data from them that the common traveler may not appreciate. However I’m going to keep testing it before I recommend it officially

  17. This has to be the best guide ever on how to find cheap flights! I totally agree with going incognito. It happened to me so many times the same thing with the price being inflated next time when I checked. Thank you for the great information!

    1. Thank you Bella. Glad to see that I am not imagining things when I go incognito as if some big brother was watching me and I need to put tin foil around my laptop

    1. Yes Skyscanner is always fun Kevin. I like travel Pirates also they give great updates on random flights that always looks so fun. The only side effect of travel Pirates and secret flying is it causes bad Wanderlust

  18. I am a big fan of airfarewatchdog- I have about 4 alerts right now that get emailed to me once a week. I don’t know when I’ll have time for a vacation next, but if I find a roundtrip to Thailand for under 600, I’ll make it work!

  19. I’ve never used Momondo or CheapoAir- I’ve been a Kayak user myself. These are great tips- I’m going to bookmark this page to send to all my friends who keep asking me for tips on flight deals! Thanks for sharing your info 🙂

  20. These are great tips! I love that there are so many comparison sites now, that I really feel like I’m getting the best deal. And I love getting daily emails from secret flying showing me all the places I could go at a fraction of the cost. It’s just all so exciting!

  21. so many great tips in this post – thanks!!!! I am also a big fan of skyscanner. And for some more complex trips I still use a travel agent as an option as well as it is tough to figure out multi stop trips online – so that is my one addition!

  22. This is seriously the most helpful thing I’ve read on the internet in years. THANK YOU for putting together this list of links! This makes travel seem so much more doable during college.

  23. Wow, what a fantastic and in depth post. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and resources! My husband and I travel alot, but depend on airline miles accumulated through credit card points. These tips would allow more flexibility and affordable flights!

  24. Wow! Most of these I sites I have never heard of. I will make sure to keep this post in mind whenever it’s time for me to fly again! Thanks for the information!

  25. Dang! I need to share this with my brother. Thank you for giving us such a detailed post :)! Seriously amazing you have taken the time to put it all together!!

  26. I’ve used a number of the sites you mentioned when booking trips and they have been very helpful. I still prefer to fly with my frequent flyer airlines, even if it means paying a few dollars more, as I get points and upgrades.

  27. Absolutely amazing post! As an avid traveler I have personally used some of these tactics but you gave me some sites I hadn’t heard of! Thanks so much Eric!

  28. Really great guide! I’m definitely saving this for when I’m next booking flights 🙂

    Dani x

  29. Sometiems I feel like its really hard to find a good deal. ately I was lucky enough to get a good ticket price from Poland – Germany – Canada – Hawaii – Los Angeles – Germany – Poland! All of these flights for less than $1K ! I had a trip of my life and I guess it’s time to look for another destination 🙂 And hopefully good prices for tickets

  30. Great tips! I just bought tickets today to Africa and found a flight for $100 cheaper by using Google Flights. Will try social media for the future and see how that turns out.

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