Wouldn’t it be great if there was a secret formula to finding cheap flights to anywhere in the world?
The same formula that got me a return flight from Birmingham to Rome for just £50? Or the same one that could get you a return from London to Tokyo for just £250?
Well guess what, there is one, kinda…
Here’s 11 super easy actionable tips for you to follow to find cheap flights to any destination in the world.
How To Find Cheap Flights
1. Use flight comparison websites
Flight comparison websites are the number one tool for finding cheap flights – fact.
You can compare hundreds of airlines against thousands of routes against thousands of airports to find the most affordable flight to your destination of choice.
I personally never book a flight without checking at least a couple (different comparison websites show different airlines and different prices for the same flight) first.
Best flight comparison websites
SkyScanner is my first go to flight comparison website because it compares prices against the largest number of airlines at the largest number of airports. You can also filter the results down based on the number of stops (multiple stops can sometimes be cheaper) and by airline carrier, although it pays to keep your options open.
Momondo is the second flight comparison website I use to find cheap flights. I especially like Momondo because it shows you the cheapest days to fly (more on this below) and you can add carry on bags and other extras to get a true cost for your flight.
Google Flights is Google’s attempt at a flight search engine. And with it being Google, the largest search engine in the world, they’ve done a pretty damn good job at it. One feature I particularly like on Google Flights is the “previously sold for” feature, which shows you how much flights have typically sold for in the past and whether or not it’s worth you purchasing flights now or holding on for another time.
As I said, make sure you check each site because prices can differ.
For instance, I’ve sometimes found the same flight on Google Flights to be cheaper than what I could find it for on SkyScanner, only to then find it even cheaper on Momondo.
Be thorough in your search for cheap flights and you will prevail (excuse the war-like speech there).
2. Be flexible with your destination
People so often say that unplanned moments make for the best memories.
And guess what? They also make for the cheapest memories too.
If you’re prepared to be flexible and fly to anywhere in the world, then do it because you stand a far greater chance of finding some incredibly cheap flight deals.
Again I find SkyScanner and Momondo to be the best tools for finding cheap unplanned journey’s.
Here’s how you can find cheap flights to anywhere using Momondo:
Step 1: Add your nearest airport, hover over the destination box and select “Can’t decide where to go?” and then select search (don’t worry about choosing dates for now).
Step 2: Filter the results based on a preferred date and by the type of trip you prefer.
Step 3: Select a destination that you like the look of and then choose “Check flight prices”.
Step 4: Browse the different available flights and then click “View deal” to see additional costs like baggage and other extras.
And that’s it, super simple.
You can give it a go for yourself and see if there are cheap flights from your nearest airport by heading over to Momondo and repeating the above.
3. Be flexible with your dates
If you can be flexible with your destination, then I’d highly recommend being flexible with your dates too and flying during the off-season when there are far fewer tourists.
Think about it – the more people there are that are looking to fly to Rome in peak season, the more airlines can (and will) charge you for flights.
It’s a scummy tactic, but hey, they’ve got to make money somewhere, haven’t they?
Here are the peak seasons for different parts of the world:
- Europe: June – August
- North America: June – August
- South America: December – March
- Australasia: December – March
- Asia: Varies considerably on local holidays
Other periods of peak season for tourists include Christmas Holidays, New Year and local holidays like Octoberfest in Germany or Spring Break in America or Chinese New Year in China (be sure to check each country before you leave).
Try and avoid these peak seasons and you’ll have a much better chance at finding cheap flights.
4. Be flexible with the days that you fly on
To finish the trio of flexibility tips, I’d recommend also being flexible with the days that you fly on.
Believe me I know how nice it is to request a full Monday-Friday off work, fly on the Saturday and then return home the following Saturday with a full day’s rest on Sunday ahead of work again the following week, but guess what? That’s what everybody else does.
And what do airlines do if everybody follows the same rules?
They markup the prices. Big time.
You’re better off flying in the middle of the week because let’s face it, who wants to fly out on a Wednesday?
You do. That’s who.
The cheapest days to fly out tend to be:
The most expensive days to fly out tend to be:
Monday’s and Sunday’s are tricky ones and tend to fluctuate more than the others.
Of course, take these with a pinch of salt at times because flights can vary in price wildly between different seasons (remember what we said about avoiding peak seasons) and destinations.
If you can’t be bothered with the hassle of finding the cheapest days to fly on, Momondo does a great job of it with their calendar view on bookings.
Here’s what it looks like:
Pick any of the dates that are in green and you’re in business.
Funnily enough, there’s also evidence of why you shouldn’t book your plane tickets last minute on that screenshot, which nicely bring us onto our next tip on how to find cheap flights…
5. Book your flights at the perfect time
You’ve likely heard some cheap flight myths in the past without realising, and they sound a little like this:
- Always book your flights as early as possible because the longer you wait, the more expensive they’ll be
- Always book your flights last minute because airlines are desperate to sell them
Both of these myths are false and there is no advantage to always booking your flights early or always booking your flights last minute.
More often than not you’ll actually find that flights sold during these times are sold at a premium because airlines are expecting their demand to rise, or as is the case with last minute flights, they’re expecting business travellers to need tickets at short notice and so they sell them at extortionate prices.
Oh and whilst we’re on the subject of myths…
Don’t rely on airfare predictions from apps and websites because it’s quite simply impossible for people outside of the airline to predict flight prices. They just use educated guesses instead, which I’ve so often found to be very wide of the mark.
Instead, keep an eye out for error fares…
6. Keep an eye out for error fares
From time to time airlines sell flights at a shockingly low price, mostly by mistake, and almost all of the time they honour the price at which they’re sold.
These are called error fares.
Spotting an error fare might sound like you need to be in the right place at the right time, but believe it or not they pop up a lot more than you think and luckily for people like us, there are websites specifically designed for spotting them and telling you about them.
Being from the UK I use a travel app called Jack’s Flight Club, but you can use Scott’s Cheap Flights if you’re from the US.
The best part? Both are completely free to join.
They’ll scour the Internet in search of the best flight deals and send them to you via the app, on their website or via email.
Both also offer a paid-for version where they send you up to 4x more offers, which is definitely worth joining if you’re a frequent flyer.
You can also try and spot error fares yourself by using SkyScanner, searching for a flight and then asking to be notified of price alerts. If the price seems too good to be true, just book it.
7. Split flights into multi-stops
Flying long-haul is a pain in the arse, let’s be honest.
It’s uncomfortable, gives you terrible jet lag and most of all, it’s expensive.
And whilst there’s not much I or you can do about the first two (unless you can afford to fly first class of course), there are ways we can reduce the cost of otherwise expensive long-haul flights… and that’s by breaking up a direct flight into a flight with multiple stops.
It might take a little longer to get to your destination, but if you’re looking to save money, it’s worth it.
Flight comparison websites are good for finding cheap multiple stop flying routes, but I prefer to do my own research. I do this by looking at the airlines that fly into certain airports and then working out which airlines fly from there to my final destination. It takes a lot of planning, but the time and effort is 100% worth it for the savings I make.
For example, if I fly to Munich, Germany from Birmingham, UK, can I then fly direct to Tokyo, Japan? And more importantly, how much cheaper is it than flying direct and how much cheaper is it compared to other stopping routes?
Sometimes it’s easier to reverse engineer it, i.e. work out who flies from Tokyo to Birmingham and then find stops in-between.
I wouldn’t recommend doing this for short-haul flights because the minimal cost savings that you’ll make will likely be outweighed by the long waiting time between flights, but it’s always worth a shot.
Oh and by the way it’s a myth that connection flights always guarantee a cheaper journey; sometimes direct flights work out to be cheaper so again, be thorough in your search for cheap flights.
8. Get cheap flight deals directly from airlines
I usually avoid purchasing flights directly from airlines because they markup the price, but from time to time certain airlines run offers throughout the year that are too good to miss.
For example, EasyJet release flights for the following Spring in the first few months after the New Year.
I’ve used EasyJet’s early bird offers to secure flights from Birmingham, UK to Edinburgh for just over £80; flights that in the past (to my subsequent annoyance) I’ve paid over £250 for.
My recommendation is that you look to see which airlines fly from your nearest airport and then search on Google to see if they sell “early bird” tickets or anything of the like.
You might just be able to ‘plan’ your first ‘unplanned’ journey of the year for a great price by booking direct through the airline. Who’d have thought it, ay?
9. Use a VPN to find cheap flights
Whilst it’s up for debate that searching in incognito mode can help you find cheap flights (more on this later), using a VPN definitely works.
If you’re not sure how a VPN works, it essentially allows you to create a secure connection to another network. You can then use the VPN to change your location to access otherwise restricted content (think American Netflix if you’re from the UK).
However, it’s not just other countries’ Netflix domains that you can access.
You can also bag some cheap flights from sneaky airline carriers that charge locals different prices for flights to what they charge outsiders.
I use NordVPN because it’s super easy to use and very affordable and I’ve been able to find certain long-haul flights for almost half the price, which more than makes up for the cost of the VPN.
10. Book your flights separate
If you’ve found your perfect destination and dream hotel, please, please, please do not go ahead and book a complete package holiday without checking the cost of booking flights and everything else separate.
It makes me want to cry when I hear stories of how my friends and family have booked a holiday to Spain with a travel agency for a week in a 4* hotel at £1,000 each.
And then it makes my friends and family cry when I tell them that I’ve secured a 7 night trip to Rome in a 5* hotel for half the price (true story).
Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely find incredible package deals for incredible prices and the simplicity of booking them sometimes far outweighs the cost savings from booking everything separate.
However, if you’re looking for cheap flights, and I’m going to assume that you are considering you’re reading this blog post on how to fly cheap to anywhere in the world, please look to book everything separate first before you jump the gun because you’ve found an awesome cheap hotel.
Go for the jugular and book a cheap hotel and cheap flights!
11. Search for flights in Incognito mode
Now I’ll be totally honest, the jury is out on whether this tip works or not, and that’s why I’ve put it right at the end of the list.
Rumour has it that if you search in Incognito mode, you can find cheaper flights.
The theory kind of makes sense…
The more you search for a certain flight, the more search engines recognise that you’re looking to purchase that flight and so they increase the price.
But in practice (and I’ve tried it hundreds of times for the same flight), I’ve never seen it work. In fact I’ve seen the opposite where search engines and airlines have recognised that I’m looking at purchasing a flight and so they’ve sent me an email reminder with a discount to book.
There’s no harm in giving it a go yourself, but personally I doubt whether it works.
Scott from Scott’s Cheap Flights did a pretty cool video on this where he looked at the same flight 100 times and the price stayed exactly the same from the start to the end, so you can check that out if you like.