How to Find Cheap Flights Like a Boss

How to Find Cheap Flights

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’ve found cheap flights to fly around the world for a year. Since this is something I wondered myself before leaving on my trip, I decided to create a post (and tutorial video) to show you the secrets I learned to find cheap flights like a boss! Sometimes it’s not that easy and you actually have to work at it while other times great deals can just fall into your lap.

There are many different factors that finding cheap flights depend on, but there are some hacks that can help you for the future!

Honestly, the craziest part about traveling the world for a year is that I spent FAR less money than what I would have if I had stayed home for one year and a lot of this was due to finding cheap flights. If you need any motivation to travel, that might be it.

So, how do I find cheap flights? Here’s how it’s done!

Here Are My 11 Secrets to Finding Cheap Flights

how to find cheap flights

1. Use Discounted Airline Sites.

I just finished making a video tutorial about how I find my cheap flights here. Using discounted airline sites have been the number one way I find my deals, but it’s important to keep in mind that using multiple sites and trying them all is a better option than only using one all the time. My go-to sites are Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, Google Flights, Momondo, and sometimes Kayak to find the best prices. I’ll then compare the prices I get on each of these sites to the others to see where I can get the best deal. The best part about Skyscanner and a few of the other sites (some are just implementing this) is that you can type in your departure location and then put your destination as “Anywhere or Everywhere”. This will then make the search engine look and see where the cheapest places to fly are. I have a video of how I find my hacks on Skyscanner here. Tip: None of these sites are perfect, so just beware that they all have their flaws.

2. Use Credit Cards & Follow the Points and Miles Gurus

This is a big one. Many people are afraid of credit cards, but you really can use them to your advantage when finding flight deals if you’re smart about it. I literally put every single thing I ever buy on my credit card. As of now, I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and am slowly starting to figure out the points and miles business by following sites like The Points Guy and The Frugal Travel Guy to find the best deals with credit card points. There is an entire industry dedicated to points and miles hacks and there are soooo many ways to use credit cards to your advantage.
A few things that work for me when using credit cards are purchasing regular day-to-day items on the credit card websites instead of the actual web sites themselves. This helps me gain points for those purchases. I also use my card for all travel related expenses because I get 3 points per $1 spent on travel-related purchases and restaurants. Each credit card is different, but there are small ways you can gain airline points by just changing up the way you’re purchasing things you already buy each day.  Credit cards have helped me get A LOT of free flights and points over the years and like I said earlier…I put almost every purchase I can on my credit card and just pay it off immediately. Another great card for travel is the Chase Sapphire Reserved. This card came out right before I left to travel so I wasn’t able to get it when it came out! If you can, I recommend it!

3. Keep Your Searches Private

This may sound like a weird one, but if you can keep your searches private when you’re looking on all of these discounted flight sites that would probably be a good idea. I don’t think this happens all the time, but the sites can track what you’ve searched for and raise their prices. Just like your search engines know what ads to serve up to you, the airlines are tracking what your computer searches for. Then they can raise the price of that particular destination if you keep coming back for the same thing. Make it a habit to search for flights in an incognito window just to be safe!

4. Set Up Alerts and Flight Hacker Emails

I LOVE setting up flight alerts and signing up for flight hacker emails. This has been the source of some of the best flight deals I’ve ever gotten. I first will recommend to sign up for Secret Flying’s daily email because they find airline errors and send them out as soon as they find them. Scott’s Cheap Flights is another great email to sign up for to get deals to your inbox. For each of these you can pick your departure location and then get those locations sent to your inbox. At the end of this video tutorial I show you a bit about Secret Flying’s emails.  Here are some other great sites to keep an eye on and set up alerts with: Airfarewatchdog, The Flight Deal, Holiday Pirates.

5. Fly Into Larger Airports

This tip is hit or miss, but if you want to fly the cheapest way possible then you’ll usually want to fly in or out of a larger airport. Smaller airports always cost more money because the smaller flights have to connect into them. So, when booking flights (if you can) try booking into the larger hubs and taking some sort of ground transportation to your destination. Sometimes taking ground transfers can actually cost more though, so make sure it costs less than just taking that extra flight.

6. Be Flexible

This is the key to getting the cheapest flights possible. If you’re flexible on dates, locations, and times then you’re good to go. I realize most people don’t have this much flexibility in their schedule, but just know if your destination or departure location is flexible and you can leave on a random day during the week instead of a Friday night, your flights will probably be cheaper!

7. Book Your Flights on a Monday – Wednesday

Airlines won’t necessarily confirm this, but the best flight deals are hands down on these 3 days. I’m not saying you can’t find them on other days (you definitely can), but in my experience, the cheapest time to buy is on these three days. I’ve done a few tests and flights typically wll go up on Thursday and over the weekend.  

8. Don’t Always Take Direct Flights.

It helps to be flexible when flying, but this one is sometimes worthwhile. Let’s say you find a flight direct to NYC, but then you find a one-leg flight to Denver with an even cheaper flight to NYC than the direct. If you can be flexible and have the time, flying a few legs per flight can sometimes be cheaper than just booking the direct flight. Sometimes this is worth it and sometimes it’s not. I found a direct flight from Berlin to Athens, but found out there was a stop in Kiev (totally out of the way). It meant my flight was cheaper and I saved over $200 that way. If you have the time and think it’s worth it then try it!

9. Look Last Minute

If you’re flexible, then it will help to look last minute for flights because airlines will want to fill up their aircrafts and will typically lower their prices if they have a lot of spots left. I don’t recommend waiting until the last minute all the time, but if you ‘wanna getaway’ to a random spot, this is a good idea to use one of the searches to “anywhere” on the flight sites (like I did here) to find the cheapest deals.

10. Book Ahead, But Not Too Far Ahead

Yes, I know I just said to look last minute, but booking ahead of time is also a good idea. I typically recommend looking 6-8 weeks before your flight OR 3-ish months if you’re booking in high season to a popular destination.

11. Sign Up for Frequent Flyer Miles Programs

First of all, I recommend becoming an awards member on all airlines you fly on. While I was working full time and traveling a lot I would sign up for an airline’s frequent flyer program whenever I took my first flight with them. I currently have a number for all of the airlines that I’ve flown in the USA and abroad and continuously make sure they are updated each time I take a domestic flight. If you don’t fly that much yet, that’s okay, just start signing up when you fly with those airlines. These mileage points add up and can usually be combined with credit card points to get you great deals!

Try Booking a Flight Now on Skyscanner!

I know there are a lot of you out there with more great flight hacking tips! What did I miss? Any other great advice?

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How to Find Cheap Flights

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By | 2018-02-11T09:44:19+00:00 February 11th, 2018|Travel, Travel Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

The Traveling Spud
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 28-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.

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