Lifelong Vagabonds Home Banner

How to Find Cheap Flights

10 July 2017 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond


There are many wild theories floating around about how to find cheap flights, such as booking flights at midnight on a Wednesday or booking a full week or more return flight. However, in all of my five years of traveling around the world, I've never found any of these theories to pan out. Booking flights at midnight on a Wednesday isn't any cheaper than booking one at a sensible time in the morning and the same can be said for booking a week long return flight or doing so on the weekdays compared to the weekends.

The only true way to find cheap flights is by doing lots of research beforehand. Nevertheless, it doesn't have to be a long and furstrating process to find affordable plane tickets; you can simply follow this guide that I've been perfecting and using myself for years.

1. Research Your Flight in Advance

small airplane showing at the Port Cook Raaf Museum
The sooner you know that you want to travel, the more time you can spend looking for deals. You don't have to know where you want to go or when; in fact being flexible on these things will allow you to find even cheaper flights. All you need at the start is to simply have an idea and then watch as that blossoms into a take-off down the runway.

Booking six months in advance, however, isn't really much cheaper than booking the flights three months beforehand (though one month before is a lot better than a mere week). Rather, the savings in this step are found when you happen upon a fantastic deal that sites run all too often. For instance, STA Travel has constant deals going for cheap flights, but the prized destination changes with the time of year.

2. Find the Cheapest Times to Fly on Skyscanner

does the early bird get the worm when looking for cheap flights? sunset on a planeDoes the early bird get the worm when it
comes to finding the cheapest flights?
Skyscanner is a great tool to use to discover the cheapest times to fly to your desired destination. In short, it's a flight comparison site that not only shows you the different costs between airlines on a select day, but it also shows you the difference in cost from day to day and from month to month, thus allowing you to discover the cheapest timeframe for you fly. As far as I can tell, this is all run when you put in your search into Skyscanner, so you're not just basing your flights on old research and trends, but rather on current ones.

Another thing I really like about Skyscanner is that you can choose 'Everywhere' as your to and/or from destinations. This combined with the option for 'cheapest month' really lets one find the cheapest flights available.

However, I've never used Skyscanner to actually purchase a flight as they always seem to increase by the time you get to checkout. Nevertheless, it's a great way to figure out the cheapest times to fly before carrying on to step two of this guide.

3. Search For Your Flight on Multiple Sites

cheap flight over New Zealand
Now that you've discovered when the cheapest time to fly is*, you simply need to research which site is offering the cheapest flight. Rarely does the actual carrier's website offer a non-ridiculous price, so I would suggest looking on flight comparison sites first. My personal favourite is STA Travel - an international budget travel agency that gives discounts to those under 26, students or recent grads (as in 1 year), and teachers. Its discounted flights require a membership card to book, but you'll save way more than the $25/year it costs to join. Their cards also come with other perks, like discounts into select tourist attractions and free basic travel insurance for US citizens with exception of those residing in Puerto Rica, Washington, or New Hampshire.

However, STA Travel doesn't always have the cheapest prices, so you still must always look at other airline and comparison sites. Other sites I use are Thomas Cook and KAYAK though you can just google 'cheap flights DESTINATION' to discover more travel comparison sites.

*Skyscanner is not an exact science, so always use the 'flexible dates' options on other sites when searching for a cheap flight.

Other Tips on How to Find Cheap Flights

Lifelong Vagabonds on a cheap flight to Australia

  1. Be flexible in your times and destination. If you can take that $100 deal to Cuba in three months instead of having to go to Paris tomorrow, then score!
  2. Fly to and from big airports. For instance, Las Vegas is one of the cheapeast places to fly to and from - even if it is literally twice the distance. So if you need to fly into the USA but aren't fussy about where, then definitely check out coming in via Las Vegas like we did on our 2017 Rockies Expedition (it's why we started in Las Vegas instead of New Mexico - the flights to LAX where literally half the price!).
  3. Don't fly on holidays. Though if you want to chance being asked to be bumped in return for a payment of some sort (usually either an upgrade or monetary), then booking on the holidays is one of the best times to attempt it. Not that I'm advising it per say.
  4. Split flights yourself. Sometimes it's cheaper to fly west into Las Vegas on a domestic flight and then east into England despite having started in Indiana (ie: in the middle of those two). Who knows why this is, but sometimes this is the case so if you can be bothered spending hours or days researching this then it could be worth it.
Like I said, the only true way to find a cheap flight is to do quite a bit of research beforehand. There's just no other way around it.

However, for anyone wanting to just relax and have their cheap flight magically appear, I would be more than willing to help on a donation basis. My email is lifelongvagabondsREMOVE@gmailREMOVE.com and use subject: FLIGHT HELP for me to bump it to the top of the queue. Safe travels!

If you liked 'How to Find Cheap Flights' then check out these other budget travel tips:

How to Find Cheap Flights comments: