How to Find Cheap Flights - Travel More for Less | Destination Wedding Photographer | Traveling Elopement Photographer
Today's blog post is all about how to find cheap flights. Yep. How can we find the cheapest flights and be able to travel more for less money. Win, win!
Finding deals for anything is my jam. I really don’t know why it’s so thrilling to find things cheaper than they should be, but it’s become a hobby of mine (is that nerdy or just weird?) - especially when it comes to flights! After I lost my Southwest benefits, I was so scared I’d never be able to travel like I had because of flights being so expensive. Although, your girl is a stubborn one and I like to make things happen.
After scouring the web and articles for strategies on finding cheap flights, mixed with the good timing of international flight fees decreasing drastically, I’ve found some ways to make international (and domestic!) travel doable. In the last few months I purchased the following flights using these strategies:
New York - Dublin - Amsterdam - Norway - New York = $350
Salt Lake City - Las Vegas = $29
New York - Dublin = $99
New Jersey - Switzerland = $229
Rome - New Jersey = 170
These are just the flights I’ve purchased but I have seen some even better and more shocking deals arise. There are a few things to keep in mind when booking a flight. Those things being your departure airport location, one way vs roundtrip, time of year, extra fees, and the biggest one : where you’re searching for flights. Are you ready for some good info?!
One Way vs Roundtrip
Many times, more so for international than domestic, I find that flights are cheaper if you book 2 one way tickets. It also allows you a lot more flexibility with your dates, as well as your locations. For example when we booked our Europe tickets this past fall, we found a one way flight from Newburgh to Dublin for $90, flight from Dublin to Amsterdam for $30, Amsterdam to Bergen for $60 and Bergen to Newburgh for $120.
It allowed us to see multiple cities, and was still cheaper than a roundtrip ticket from Newburgh and Dublin. Sometimes it does make sense to do a roundtrip ticket, but always play around with one ways even if you’re arriving and departing from the same city because airlines are weird and it usually works.
When planning your trip, I encourage you to make a list of all the airports within a four hour radius. That radius might even be larger for you, but that’s about how far I’m willing to drive for a good flight. For us Mid Atlantic folk, that means we could fly out of Baltimore, Philly, Regan, Dulles, JFK, Laguardia, Newark, Pittsburg and Newburg. Probably even some others. Baltimore is the closest to me so I prefer to fly out of there, but usually the cheap international flights are out of Newburgh, a big hub for Norwegian Air, or Newark, a big hub for everyone (it seems).
WOW air is great to fly out of Baltimore, and occasionally I’ll see good deals out of the other above airports. Many times it can be the difference of hundreds of dollars to fly out of a different city, even if it means a bit further of a drive. It’s up to you to way the benefits, play with those one way flights, and creative.
Most of these great deals are on budget airlines (although not all the time!). Put your worries behind, budget airlines are safe, and you’re typically flying on a 737 airbus (imagine a Southwest plane). Basically it just means that when you book your ticket, you’re only booking your ticket. You then have to purchase baggage, seat selection, food, drinks etc. Although it can also be the difference of hundreds of dollars that maybe those peanuts just aren’t worth.
If you’re comparing two flights that are similar in price, make sure you’re looking at their baggage fees and what that can add. For example, two budget airlines that usually have killer international deals are Norwegian Air and WOW Air. Norwegian lets you bring a personal item (small backpack) for free, and then I believe it’s around $30 (depends on where you’re headed for exact price) for a carry on bag. WOW air charges for anything you bring on and it’s around $50 for each carry on. So if you were to bring a carry on and a backpack, you would be spending an extra $100 each way on WOW air versus Norwegian where I could bring a backpack and a carry on for $30 each way.
This one is pretty obvious but every place has a busy season and an off season. If you can be flexible with your schedule, it’s worth it to consider visiting places in the off season, or even the in between seasons. Not only will the flights be cheaper, but usually everything else you spend money on (hotels, experiences, rental cars) will also be.
Pomelo travel has been a life saver to me. Every 2-3 days I get various emails in my inbox with all of the best deals on the market. Chris and his team spend their days scouring the web for the best deals, and when they see one that’s worthwhile, they send it to your inbox. You can sign up to have flights only out of specific airports sent to you, or from all over, and they also tell you how to find the flight, what time frame the cheap dates are in, how long they think the deal will last, and what airlines they’re on.
Sometimes they’ll even throw in different routing options if they’ve gotten creative with one way flights. This is how I found out one way tickets to Norway were $89, hence my fall Europe trip, and that flights to Dublin were $99, hence my spring trip to Ireland/Scotland in March.
This is great if you know a general time frame of when you want to travel, but are open to different destinations. You can keep an eye for cheap flights in the dates you have available and book when you see a place that catches your eye. It’s also great for last minute traveling as some of the deals can be within the month.
Pomelo travel is free to sign up if you want to receive 25% of the deals, or $5 a month to receive all the deals. Go give it a try, I promise you’ll be hooked!
Google flights is my go to when I have a specific destination in mind. Don’t mistake this for googling flights. Google Flights is an actual program that will come up if you type google flights into the search engine.
From here you can select your departing and arriving airports, as well as a tentative date. Once you click go, you’ll see a month calendar that pops up and gives you the cheapest days to fly on! You can search through the months and the extra cheap days will pop up in green. This is a great time to play with one way flights instead of roundtrip.
If you see a great deal, or if you can’t find a great deal, check out Sky Scanner and Monodomo. These are both very similar to google flights, in fact some prefer them over google flights, I’ve just gotten the most proficient with google. But many times a flight you see in one of the engines won’t show up in another one of the engines.
When we were booking our flights to Switzerland, the cheapest flight I could find from Newark to Geneva was almost $400 on Google Flights, and that was on a budget airline. I checked Sky Scanner just to cover all of my bases and I found one on KLM, a full service airline (bags and food included!), for $229. Sky scanner is also neat because you can search for “anywhere” meaning you can put in where you want to leave from and search for “anywhere” and it will show you all of the cheapest flights for your dates from that city. Great for last minute travel! Monodomo is another similar site, so give that one a look as well.
If you’ve made it this far, you must be committed to finding those cheap flights! That is a lot of information, but if you play around with it and can be flexible, you should be able to find flights to almost anywhere in the world for under $1000.
Let me know what deals you end up finding or better yet booking! It would mean the world to me to hear that this information helped you get to the destination of your dreams. And as always, email me any questions you have so I can help you get there!