The Ultimate Guide on How to Find Cheap Flights

posted in: Travel, Travel Tips | 13

Typically, the most expensive part of planning a trip is the flight. The cumbersome search for finding the cheapest ticket can get frustrating; not a feeling you should experience when preparing for an exciting adventure!

Here are our top travel tips for how to find cheap flights to save you time, annoyance and money.

Don’t miss our other travel hacks on How to Survive an Airport Layover and How to Easily Track Travel Expenses

1. Clear your Cookies

Even though I’m not talking about the cookies in the jar on your counter, maybe grab a few while you join me on a search for cheap flights. The cookies I’m referring to are the crumbs you leave on your computer with every search you do.

Computer systems are sophisticated; they are geared toward making it easy for you to return to sites but even easier for those sites to track what you are looking for. Ever see an advertisement pop up on Facebook for a pair of shoes you were just searching for on Google? Yep, those are your cookies hard at work.

How to clear your cookies depends on what type of internet browser you use.

Click here to find the right steps for you: How to Clear Cookies in Your Browser.

2. Search in Top Secret Mode

Now that your computer is clean, it’s time to search. Since the man (as in the airline) IS watching you and tracking your cookies you’ll want to search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.

If you haven’t done this in the past, you probably noticed the price increase after searching for a particular flight over and over again.

Always browse for flight deals in secret mode by right-clicking on an already open internet browser tab at the bottom of your screen and select “Start InPrivate Browsing” or “New InPrivate Browsing” or “New InCognito Window.” Make sure to open a new incognito window for every search

Typically, the most expensive part of planning a trip is the flight. Finding the cheapest ticket can get frustrating and tiresome. Not a feeling you should experience when preparing for an exciting adventure! Here are our top travel tips for how to find cheap flights to save you time, annoyance and money.

3. Get Super Sneaky – Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is something that most people don’t use but should especially if they travel frequently or use public Wi-Fi hotspots.

It is an internet security method to keep your private information safe such as passwords, account numbers and credit card information.

When you activate your VPN, you can select your location. Websites can detect your location so when living in Chicago and searching for a flight from Chicago to somewhere else, the price may be higher. You can change your location (as in country) and it could result in major savings.


4. Use the Best Search Engines

Let an airfare aggregator do the work for you. There are many sites out there but the top three we use have provided us with the best place to find the cheapest airfares.

Many of them include flexible whole-month calendars to check cheaper flights on other dates as well.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner not only searches for the cheapest flights at that time, but you can set up alerts for any change in price. The option to compare multiple airports will help you save on cost as well.
  • Momondo – Momondo searches over 600 airlines, online booking sites, travel agencies, search engines, and other online travel discount sites.
  • Google Flights – Not sure where you want to go? Google Flights is fantastic for figuring out the perfect spot for your next vacation; you can search for a destination or by interest. For example, if you are a foodie or an outdoorsy type person, Google Flights will discover a destination for you.

*Tip: Southwest Airlines usually has to be searched separately on their official account.*

5. Sign Up for Cheap Fare Alerts

The minute you know you are interested in booking a flight, set up airfare alerts. Once you enter the destination and rough range of dates, the websites below will email you when prices drop.

  • Airfarewatchdog – It’s hard to find an aggregator or search engine that pulls low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines, Allegiant and Skybus, but Airfarewatchdog does. They use people to do the searching instead of computer programs so it is more in-depth.
  • Orbitz – Orbitz is a popular booking site but they offer fare alerts as well.
  • FareCompare – FareCompare allows you to sign up for individual city pair alerts as well as listing historical data on past low fares so you know if you are paying a higher cost on average.

6. Become a Frequent Flier

Do you notice you use one airline more than the others? Always sign up to your airline membership program of choice. Frequent flyer miles are fantastic. If used correctly, they can save you a ton of money when traveling. Some of the major airline alliances include:

7. Accrue Points via Credit Cards

Not only do you accrue points as you purchase items on your credit card, but these points allow for flexibility and redemption perks when traveling. Most cards also give bonus points upon signing up once you spend a certain amount. Some of the best airline credit cards are:

**Tip: Make sure to take annual fees into consideration. Also only open a card when you are able to hit the initial spend to get the bonus offered.**

8. Be Flexible with Dates and Times

The best way to find cheap flights is to be flexible. Try to travel in the off-season if possible and check various dates. Mid-week flights are usually cheaper than flying on the weekends and remember early morning flights or red-eyes tend to be the cheapest time of day.

9. Start with the Destination

Kayak and Google’s explore tool allows you to enter your home airport and search flights all over the world by cost. If you are trying to save money on your next trip, decide where you want to go based on what flights are the cheapest. Go to Google Flights and click on the map. From there, enter your city and the dates you are looking at and it will pull flights from all over the world so you can compare.

10. Check Social Media Accounts for Deals

Everyone utilizes social media these days including airlines. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you are in the know on sales and deals as they pop up throughout the year.

Tips for Booking Cheap Flights

  • Don’t forget to consider the extra fees before you buy.
  • If your cheap flight has a layover, make sure you have enough time in between to get to your next flight.
  • If you are flying a third-party airline, do your research BEFORE purchasing the ticket.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, if you book through our link we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support as this helps with the cost of running the website.

Do you have any other tips on booking cheap flights? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Typically, the most expensive part of planning a trip is the flight. Finding the cheapest ticket can get frustrating and tiresome. Not a feeling you should experience when preparing for an exciting adventure! Here are our top travel tips for how to find cheap flights to save you time, annoyance and money.

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

13 Responses

  1. Andra

    Hmm, I didn’t know that using a VPN and changing the location could help in getting lower prices. Will try to apply all your tips on our next booking 🙂

  2. Laura

    This was super helpful! I am looking to go to Portugal sometime in the fall so this will be great!

  3. Michael Hodgson

    Solid tips! We have used VPN to help secure different fare selections when using a foreign airline. Works very well. Hotels too. We use Google as well with fare alerts … it is uncanny how it seems to know just before a fare will go up.

  4. Alice Ford

    I use almost all these tips also. I also have an IFTT set up to ding me every time a deal hits the airwaves. I will have to use VPN’s more often as well.

  5. Jennifer

    Using a vpn is a good idea. I haven’t tried it with flights, but I have used it to book trains and buses at lower fares. We are lucky in Vancouver that there is a website that searches for fare deals everyday, so I don’t always have to do the digging myself.

  6. Kavita Favelle

    Great reminder to get rid of cookies, I usually just use incognito mode for all flight searches from the start, as per your second point, so I don’t need to worry about the first. I’ve not tried the trick to say I’m in an alternate location, so may try that in the future! And totally agree with using multiple search sites, not just google or just skyscanner, you sometimes find flights on one that aren’t on the other! I sign up for updates on my preferred airlines, and am a member of the loyalty programmes. I also keep an eye on offers via my airline programme-linked credit cards and elsewhere, to see if I can find extra points that way. I’ve also had success being flexible with flight dates, when I can, though I appreciate that’s not so easy for full time permanent staff. I’m a freelance contractor so it’s often possible for me.

  7. Josh

    Top tips there, it’s crazy how much of difference it can make just deleting your cookies! Thanks for the advice 🙂

  8. Mei

    I do all the above except for #3. Maybe I should try it out next time. And I’d also add another tip: try to search at different times and days to find out the cheapest moment before booking a flight. Also, if possible book the day or evening prior to a major holiday (Christmas, New Year’s Eve) if you’re not celebrating because I found out that it’s really the cheapest moment!

  9. Corinne

    I agree with all of your hacks, but I find the absolute best is being able to be flexible. That’s okay for people who aren’t working a 9-5, but if you do, that’s where they always seem to get you. Good list!

  10. Ghia Lorenzo

    Thanks for sharing this post! This will be a very helpful tips to find mo cheap flights and YES! to more happy travels and happy memories. Using VPN is a very good idea! Would really love to try it!

  11. Jason

    Thanks for the tips, I didn’t realize the airlines use tracking cookies to adjust rates (I guess I should have though). I also like to VPN idea. I’ll have to try these tips out for my next flight.

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