Cheap Flights: 10 Best Booking Tips and Websites

by Sojourner
6 comments

You’ve got 30 seconds to search: “book cheap flights.”

Ready. Set…Go! 30, 29, 28, 27….

If you see what I see (and even if you don’t, no worries), there are about 83,000,000 Google results of how to score a cheap flight. That’s not surprising because thousands of people are posting about their adventures on Instagram with any hashtag that starts with #Travel. International travel is more affordable than ever and now is the time to take advantage, even on a budget. It’s a movement and the solution to your wanderlust. Let’s get into how.

Use an incognito window

Ever since a friend told me about this window, I’ve been traveling happily (and cheaply) throughout Europe. Any time you search a flight, use the incognito window as a security blanket. It protects you from airline tactics such as increasing prices while you search, or showing a flight is suddenly unavailable. These are ways to force you to buy a more expensive flight.

Subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights and The Flight Deal

The deals I’ve seen on Scott’s email list are unbelievable. Go to his website to sign-up for the free emails. He sends one to three deals per day to international destinations all over the world (including non-European locations) from the U.S. There’s also a premium option that requires a login and offers multiple payment plans in your budget. It’s not 100% necessary, but if you work remotely and can travel often, you get more options. Scott even tells you how long he expects the deals to last. Have your money ready and turn on those email notifications to snag them quickly. The Flight Deal is comparable too for U.S domestic destinations.

Example: The past 3 weeks, there have been three or four flight deals to Europe for $300 to $400 roundtrip from almost every major U.S. city with Scott’s Cheap Flights!

Depart and return on non-busy days and times

With a flexible schedule, it’s easier to book flights on “off” days. For example, leaving on a Wednesday or Thursday, and returning on a Monday, can be cheaper than leaving on a Friday and returning on a Sunday. Also, earlier flight times are cheaper. My 1:30am Friday morning departure to Greece from Madrid was at least 50 euros less than a later time the same day. This gives you more time to explore a new place and you save money!

Don’t book too early

While planning is good, overplanning is not. Saving money a year in advance is a wise decision, however you shouldn’t buy a flight that early. With international flights from the U.S, book 3 to 6 months in advance depending on the destination (ex. Europe is on the lower end while Africa is on the higher end). A general rule: 6 to 8 weeks beforehand is the safe zone for anywhere.

Already abroad? Use budget airlines

Yes, I know the customer service on these flights can be undesirable sometimes, but you sacrifice comfort and friendliness for the price. Ryanair, Vueling and Easyjet are the three I would recommend for European travel.  I got a 44 euro roundtrip flight from Madrid to Brussels on Ryanair! If you are already abroad, buy no more than a month in advance if it’s time and location sensitive. However, if it’s high season for tourists or the dates fall during Spring Break, those are the most expensive times to book (specifically for a European destinations or warmer climates). Book sooner rather than later because prices will begin to increase closer to the departure date.

Quick tip: For non-EU citizens: Ryanair also requires a stamp so get to your gate early. Also, check-in and print out your boarding pass before you fly; you’ll save a lot of time.

 

Don’t fly direct

Direct flights are wonderful and relaxing because you don’t have to run from one plane, or through passport control and security, to another flight. Yet, they are pricier. Consider a long layover for a cheaper price tag and the best cheap flights.

 

Don’t book flights on the weekends

To be honest, I’m skeptical about “the best days” to book flights; it changes too often and I think it’s location-dependent. But, I do know to avoid weekends because they are the worst options. Prices are always hiked up! Tuesdays are commonly regarded as the most cost-friendly day, with midnight being the ideal time of choice. Personally, booking earlier in the week (Monday to Wednesday) have never failed me.  

Quick tip: Hopper is the app to use to schedule and watch multiple flights at once. In January, I bought a $541 roundtrip flight, with only a 1 hour layover in Paris, from Madrid to O’Hare in Chicago for my brother’s wedding in May.

 

No plan, no problem: hello Skyscanner

Skyscanner is an oldie, but reliable goodie. For the adventurous travelers, or those who don’t plan a month in advance yet still want cheap flights, Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” option is perfect. You can find the cheapest destination to visit that weekend with a click of a button. This is also great for people working 9 to 5 and are looking for weekend escape in your home country or abroad. Skyscanner also compares flights for you and lists them from cheapest and shortest layover, to the most expensive and longest layover.

Quick tip: Skiplagged and Google Flights  also have similar options for you to “explore anywhere” too!

Have a solid internet connection

If your internet connection is slow, your flight can become booked while you’re loading and you miss out on a deal. Find a cafe or hot spot when flight searching. A stronger connection means a stronger chance of a good deal.  

Quick Tip: Compare with multiple search engines too! Different algorithms produce different results.

 

Student and teacher discounts

I don’t know about you, but I’m staying a “college student” for as long as I can. Just kidding…kind of! Discounts are welcome in every department, travel is no different. STA Travel and StudentUniverse are two websites that offer student travel discounts. STA Travel also offers teacher, under 26 and many more cheap alternatives to save money.

Cheap flights and travel is possible! Patience and research are key to booking your next adventure. Be flexible in your search and always prepare for the unexpected. That’s the only thing that’s constant with travel.

Thanks for reading, if you liked it, PIN ME to save for later! 

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6 comments

Kashlee Kucheran August 18, 2018 - 5:16 pm

Great tips! I also find that booking to early results in higher prices. Finding that window between too early and too late is usually where the deals are! Thanks girl

Reply
Sojourner August 19, 2018 - 12:32 am

Yep, exactly!! Thanks!

Reply
Luda August 18, 2018 - 5:33 pm

I had no idea there were student discounts – I thought they were only good for getting discounts in museums! :O
Also +1 on booking earlier in the week, I saved around $250 on my last ticket by not booking on the weekend. Great tips! 🙂

Reply
Sojourner August 19, 2018 - 12:32 am

Yes! Use those discounts! And ooh shoutout to you, such a good deal!

Reply
Valentina August 19, 2018 - 1:54 pm

You’ve put together some great tips here, thanks for sharing them! I should definitely try using an incognito window next time I search for flights 😉

Reply
Sojourner August 19, 2018 - 9:46 pm

Thank you! And yesss you should! It’s so great to use

Reply

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