Updated: Jun 7
The flight to your destination is usually the most expensive part of your entire trip. Finding a great value on your flight is the best way to stay within budget, while allowing more funds to be allocated to the fun stuff, like noms brews & views. Below outlines tools and tips for finding a great deal on flights both domestically and internationally.
1. Fly with Rewards
Looking for a budget flight? How about a free flight? Despite sounding too good to be true, there are many travel credit cards out there that reward customers for signing up for their travel cards.
We have found the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to be the best deal, offering 80,000 bonus points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months. 80,000 bonus points is the equivalent of $1000 in travel credit, which means you have earned yourself a free flight to your dream destination. If you have any big purchases coming in the near future, applying for this card is a no brainer! It allowed us both to travel round-trip to Hawaii for free.
Read more trusted reviews of this card on NerdWallet
Without a doubt, Google Flights is the most underrated travel tool for finding great flights. There are so many incredible features in Google Flights that allow you to access all of your options and find an optimal flight to your destination. Google Flights can aid in determining the right time of year to travel to your destination, which airport to fly into and out of, and suggestions for the best time to buy your flight.
One of the features we most frequently use is the "flexible dates" feature which allows you to find the most affordable flights to an entire continent over a 6 months range.
Budget Tip: When flying to Europe, fly into any city regardless if it is a destination of interest or not. Once in Europe, you can get a flight to other countries/cities for a low as $15!
If you have a destination and month of travel determined, use Google Flight's "track prices" feature. You will then be alerted via email whenever the price fluctuates.
Budget Tip: A general rule-of-thumb is that flight prices will be at their lowest 6 months out from your departure date.
Skyscanner is another great resource for flight comparison. On Skyscanner, you can find out which dates provide non-stop flights to your destination, search by airline, and get price alerts sent directly to your email. You can even search for hotels and rental cars within the same platform.
Hopper is our favorite app for tracking flights. You are able to determine the best time to fly with the help of Hopper's color-coated calendar based on historical data. Once selected, Hopper will also tell you if they think now is the best time to buy the flight, or if you should wait longer for the price to fluctuate (it will even predict how much it will fluctuate!). Finally, you can track all of your flight options and get notifications on your device from Hopper with price alerts and suggested buy times.
5. Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are a great way to get from point A to point B when you do not preference the luxuries of typical airlines, however, be sure to keep in mind the below tips before purchasing on a budget airline's website:
Most Important Tip: buy your tickets under a different device than the device in which you researched your tickets. Budget airlines have an algorithm that tracks how many times you visited their website (we especially noticed this for RyanAir & EasyJet). If these airlines recognize that you have assessed your options and came back to buy on their site, they will sometimes raise your ticket price because they have learned that you are now more committed to buying. This can easily be avoided if you research on one device and buy on another.
Avoid Add-On Charges: This is where the budget airlines plan to earn back their money. They advertise during the checkout process that you need to pay for your seat assignment, extra leg room, luggage, rental car, etc. What they do not tell you is that you will have a seat if you do not select one during the purchase process, it just may not be next to your travel companion. Skip all avoidable add-on's that you can in order to minimize your overall ticket cost
Pack Light: Another way budget airlines squeeze more money out of you is by taking advantage of heavy packers. How is it that they can charge more for a checked bag than the price of your flight ticket? They are simply taking advantage of those who do not travel light. We traveled around Europe for three weeks using our 40L backpacks and never had to check a bag on any of the budget airlines we used.
Recommended budget airlines in Europe:
RyanAir: Irish budget airline founded in 1984
EasyJet: British budget airline founded in 1995
Norwegian: Norwegian budget airline founded in 1993
Aer Lingus: Irish budget airline found in 1936
Recommended budget airlines in North America:
Spirit Airlines: American budget airline founded in 1983
Southwest Airlines (does not appear in Google Flights): American budget airline founded in 1967
We hope this helps you find the best possible flight to your destination at the greatest value.