First let's start by bustin’ some common myths around booking cheap flights. The old rumor that Tuesday at 1pm is the cheapest time to book flights is, alas, not true anymore.
Nowadays flight prices are much more unpredictable thanks to our overlord, the algorithm. Flight prices can change day to day, hour to hour, even minute to minute, based on a whole host of complex factors.
Secondly, your browser cookies do not come into this. The algorithm works by combining complex, ever-changing data on factors such as season, how last minute you leave it, occasionally airline errors, and a whole load more.
So you don’t have to switch your browser to incognito mode, unless you want to keep your 2-hour wormhole of Harry Styles interviews on the DL. (Did you rly need to watch ‘Harry Styles losing his British accent for 2 minutes straight’ in the first place?)
Book as early as possible ⏰
It’s not rocket science: flights generally get more expensive as time goes on. As much as booking last minute is fun, it’s unlikely you’ll find a super cheap last-minute flight, so it’s best to book waaaay in advance.
🚀 For domestic flights, the best time to book is normally 1 to 3 months before your travel dates.
🚀 For international trips, it’s 2 to 8 months prior.
🚀 Prices also go up on the 21, 14, and 7 day prior marks, because this is when airlines can squeeze the most out of people flying for business purposes (thank you, company card). So if you are booking last-minute flights, try to do so more than 2 or 3 weeks before you wanna go.
Use a flight search engine 🔍
Instead of viewing directly by the airline, use a flight search engine. They scour the internet and collate all the information for you.
Southwest.com is the best for domestic flights.
Fly with budget airlines 👛
Obvi, it’s cheaper if you fly with a budget airline. This means being willing to relinquish some of the perks of luxury travel, but you can find some absolute steals.
Weigh up whether you can go without a fully reclining chair and tasty food - if it’s an 8-hour flight you’re taking, it might be worth being a bit more comfortable. But maybe you can withstand the lack of legroom for a 2-hour journey. You might get a numb leg, but your wallet will thank you 🙏
⚠️ BE CAREFUL OF THE FINE PRINT BESTIE ⚠️
Budget airlines have ~ways~ of making you feel like you’ve found an absolute steal, then adding unexpected prices to this before you pay, or even when you turn up at the airport.
Be open with your dates 📅
If you go into planning flights with a month in mind, rather than specific dates, Skyscanner allows you to select ‘month of departure.’ Prices vary massively - one day can halve the price.
If you’re really open-minded, Skyscanner also offers a ‘cheapest month’ option.
The cheapest days to travel generally are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive days. (These aren't always the cheapest days to book, though 👀)
If you’re just on a ‘get me anywhere but here’ vibe, be open to the destination too. Skyscanner has a ‘search Everywhere’ option, and Google flights allows you to search entire continents; so you can try New York to anywhere in Europe, and it’ll find the cheapest places to go.
If you’re really set on a destination and day, Google flights can send notifications on the cheapest options for specific journeys.
Focus on getting the cheapest flights across the ocean 🌎
If it’s an international flight, even if it’s not from your home airport or to your ultimate destination, you can save the most money by getting the cheapest flight across the ocean.
For example, you find a freak flight from New York to London for $300. But you really want to go to Paris. It might still be cheaper to get a cheap hotel or hostel in London for a night, then get a budget flight or train to Paris. Same goes for any budget flights within Europe.
Plus you get to add another destination to your trip 💅
Select ‘traveling alone’ 👁️👄👁️
Even if you’re traveling with someone. Catfish the airlines.
The reason this is cheaper is that sometimes when you’re booking multiple tickets, the airline will put your entire group into a single fare bucket. What is a fare bucket you ask?
Fare buckets group tickets into different categories based on factors such as the cabin you’re in, and whether your ticket is refundable.
If two of you are traveling and there’s only one ticket available in a cheaper fare bucket, the airline will group you into the more expensive option. Selecting traveling alone may allow you to get one ticket cheaper.
It’s then up to your group to decide how democratic you are about who gets this cheaper ticket.
Don’t fly during peak seasons 🌞
It depends on where you’re traveling to. In North America and Europe, the cheapest time to travel is December - May. Domestic flights get much more expensive around holidays.
A bonus of not traveling during peak season is that places usually crammed with tourists are often quieter, although it might be a little colder.
If you are traveling during the peak seasons, try to book as far in advance as possible.
So there you have it. All the ways to find cheap flights when you’re on a budget. You’re welcome 💖
Enjoy this post? Def give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. And of course, if you want to try the best money app in the world for free, just hit this link right here.
Big love. Cleo 💙