How to Find Cheap Flights
Finding good flight deals can allow you to go on that vacation that you have always dreamt of. International flights don’t have to cost thousands of dollars, and traveling can be affordable. There are so many incredible international flight deals these days that it honestly makes it hard for me to stop myself from booking every deal I find (but then I remember that I have a full time job and just admire the deals from afar or send them to my family and friends to encourage them to use their vacation time to, well take a vacation). I found flight deals to Greece and Italy from Phoenix in the $500s which allowed us to save money and take more trips. There are many resources to help you find cheap flights, from searching on your own using Google Flights or Skyscanner to signing up to email lists. If you can be patient and flexible with your travel dates you should be able to find a good international flight deal.
Google Flights is easy to use and offers several ways to search for flights quickly. If you have specific dates and a location set, you can sign up for flight alerts and google will notify you when the price drops. Some destinations that often have flight deals from the United States are: Italy, Spain, Dublin, Paris, London, Iceland, Tokyo and China.
How to Search for Flights Using Google Flights
If you know your origin and final destination but have flexible dates: Input your origin and destination and use the calendar feature to find the cheapest dates to travel.
If you know the dates you want to travel but are open to different destinations:
Select the origin and the dates that you want to travel. In destination either input the continent that you want to travel to or leave this field blank and select search. This will show you a map with the lowest prices to fly to different destinations. You can drag the map around to get the prices for different areas.
Scotts Cheap Flights
Get cheap flight alerts directly to your email! I highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights and have subscribed to their email list for a couple years now. There is a free version where you will get many deals, but the premium version sends all the deals they find and only costs $49/year. You can restrict which areas you are interested in flight deals from so that you don’t get endless emails. Once you receive a flight deal that works for you act fast and search in google flights to find the best dates.
Tips for Booking Flights
When to Book Your Flights
If you are traveling domestically within the United States, try to book your travel at least one month in advance because then the flight prices start to increase. If it is a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, book your flights at least 2-3 months in advance because flight tickets start to increase early. If you are traveling internationally, flight deals can pop up as soon as a couple days out, so you don’t necessarily need to book early.
Consider Other Nearby Airports
If you live in a city that doesn’t have the best international flight deals, you can always consider flying out of a nearby city that you can drive to or fly to. We went to Ecuador a few years ago and the flight was $800 from Phoenix but $400 from Los Angeles so we bought a separate flight to Los Angeles for $150 and flew from there. Keep in mind that if you have separate itineraries you need to allow enough time between flights in case there are any delays. I also recommend checking that there is at least one flight in between yours and when you need to be at the next airport in case anything happens with your flight causing it to cancel or delay significantly. United States airports that typically have the best international flight deals are LAX, SFO, JFK, IAD and BOS.
Many airlines today charge for a checked bag, carry on bag, or both. Make sure to check the cost of the bags before booking the ticket because although it might seem like the cheapest option the cost of bags could make the flight more expensive.
The size restriction of carry on bags varies widely depending on the airline. Typically, airlines in the US have larger carry on size restrictions than airlines in Europe. Make sure you check the carry on size restrictions for the airline before you book the flight to prevent having to pay extra at the gate for an oversize bag.
I always try to book flights directly through the airline website rather than using a third party site. There could be implications with a third party ticket if there are any delays or cancellations as ultimately the third party that you booked through is responsible for helping you with any problems. I only book with a third party if I am unable to book through the airline site such as small international airlines where the website isn’t working properly.
Get the Best Seats
If the airline lets you choose your seat, make sure to do a little research to choose the best seat without spending more money. Always start with looking up the plane on SeatGuru where you can see which seats are recommended and which seats you should stay away from. As a general rule, stay away from bulkhead seats, especially if they are next to the restroom. You might have extra legroom, but people will constantly be standing next to you waiting in line or stretching their legs. You will also be required to put your bags in the overhead bin during takeoff and landing. If you are traveling with a friend, increase your chances of an empty seat in your row by booking the window and aisle, as it’s less likely someone will book the middle seat. Choose seats towards the back of the plane where it tends to be more empty.
When you check in for your flight always see if there are better seats available. If you are unable to change your seat and you got assigned a middle seat or a seat next to the restrooms, ask the gate agent before boarding if they have a different seat they can assign you. International flights aren’t always full, so it’s very possible they can change your seat.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Travel guides created to inspire and enable people to use their time away from the office to explore the world.