Researching and planning an upcoming trip is all part of the fun and adventure of travel. It helps build up the anticipation and excitement of your next journey!
One of my favorite aspects of travel planning includes searching for flights and trying to find the best deal.
There’s something enjoyable and rewarding about searching for the best possible price for a flight. It’s like winning a contest or cheating the system somehow.
When I research my flights, I go through several steps before deciding that I’ve found the absolute best flight possible. Because I travel long term and have a flexible schedule, price is my priority and my flexibility helps me to search for the best deals.
One thing for you to know is that I don’t like buying flights in advance. In fact, I prefer to buy flights 2-4 weeks before a trip and take advantage of last minute specials. I’ve even booked international flights to Africa and Central America for same day travel.
I’m going to share with you my personal strategy for finding the best deals for flights!
STEP 1: RESEARCH PRICING – PLAN AND PREPARE
As soon as you know you’re going to be traveling, research prices and determine what you feel is a fair price for you to pay. Research the average flight costs to your destination finding the lowest price and highest.
Keep in mind that high season tends to have higher flight costs so have realistic expectations of what you believe will be a fair price.
STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR PRICE – HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO PAY
Once you know how much you want to pay, do a weekly search on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays to see if you can find your desired price.
Sign up for weekly updates from companies like Travelzoo and Shermanstravel that always have awesome deals.
STEP 3: SKYSCANNER – DETERMINE YOUR DATE OF TRAVEL
The first search engine I use to find flights is Skyscanner because they allow you to search for flights during vast periods of time allowing you to determine the cheapest dates for you to travel. If you want to travel in March, for example, Skyscanner allows you to search the entire month offering you the prices for each day.
If your travel plans are extremely flexible, you can even search for pricing the entire year to figure out the cheapest month available.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the most cost effective dates to travel. While Kayak is also a popular price research tool, I find them to be way overpriced in comparison to other travel search engines.
STEP 4: TRAVELOCITY and CHEAPOAIR – FIND FLIGHTS
Once you know the cheapest dates to travel, use other search engines to see what pricing they offer. I don’t like the travel websites offered on Skyscanner. My two favorite travel websites are Travelocity and Cheapoair. I’ve booked almost all my flights through them and Travelocity even has a 24 hours money back guarantee which I’ve had to use at least once.
To make your searches for successful, allow for flexibility in your time of travel, airlines, and the number of stops.
STEP 5: VERIFY PRICE ON AIRLINE’S WEBSITE
Once you’ve determined what airlines are showing the best prices with your ideal itinerary check the airline’s website and see what prices they’re offering for the flights you’ve chosen.
Look for the same flight numbers and itineraries to see which method of purchase gives you the best bang for your buck.
Using these 5 steps you’ve determined the best dates to fly and the best airlines to use. It’s time to book!
Don’t forget to sign up for the airline’s frequent flyer airline program. I can’t even tell you how much I regret losing out on the points for the first year of my travels. Read this post for more details on frequent flyer airline programs.