Home / Backpacking / How to Find Cheap Flights

How to Find Cheap Flights

Ah airtickets. The bane of most wanderers is the high cost of flights and since the days of steamer ships and trains are mostly over and the hyperloop and transporter are still under construction.

Raise your hand if you often find yourself in a moment (hours) of procrastination typing “cheap flights” into Google…

*raises hand*

*raises other hand*

So, here are a few sites I use to find and compare flights. I’ll also add in 3 tips for getting good deals on your flights.

  1. Have a flexible schedule: If your dates aren’t fixed then you can use the “+\-3” days tool on most cheap flight searching websites. This helps you see a grid of the flight costs three days before and after your initially desired departure and return dates. Most sites let you slide forward and back between dates so you can find the best fares.
  2. Use the app: I’m not quite sure why but I’ve found that for some sites (like Kayak.com) their mobile app tends to find better deals than their website. Or at least it lists them in a better fashion accounting not only for cost but also for total travel time in the listing rather than favouring one or the other in searches.
  3. Price alerts: Price alerts are your best friend if you have time between now and your travel dates. Create your search on a site that allows price alerts (like airfarewatchdog.com and Kayak.com) and turn on “Tracking Prices” which will pop up a window where you enter your email to be notified of drops in fare cost. These can be golden.

ITA MATRIX BY GOOGLE

This is commonly accepted to be the ultimate flight search tool.

Created at MIT then purchased by Google, ITA Matrix searches a large number of airlines (not all of them) and allows for a great deal of customised searches and results. It offers information on cost per mile, geographical searches, an excellent interactive calendar and much more.

It might be overwhelming for novice users but I recommend that you try it out, even if it’s to cross-reference the costs you’re finding on other websites.

Also, you are not able to actually purchase tickets through the ITA Matrix, it’s a tool only for searching and reference.

Pros

  • Backed with all the power of Google
  • Searches an enormous range of airlines
  • Lots of customisable features
  • Excellent comparison tools

Cons

  • Research only, cannot be used to purchase flights so there will be another step of actually finding your ticket to purchase after you discover that it exists on ITA Matrix.
  • May be complex for some users

KAYAK.COM

I’ve been using Kayak.com for a long time. I’m not sure where the name came from but I like to think that it came from the age-old searches on Google Maps when, if you asked Maps to route you across the seas while it was set on “walking” directions, it would tell you to kayak from Los Angeles to Sydney.

I always got a kick out of that.

So Kayak.com is a staple for me. It has a solid search algorithm and searches not only the airlines’ websites but also other “aggregator” sites.

Perhaps 80% of the time I find myself booking on Kayak.com. I also like their price alert and tracking tool which was mentioned above.

Pros

  • Wide search range
  • Regularly finds the best deal
  • Ability to receive price alerts

Cons

  • Its algorithm will log your IP address and bump up the prices if you search too many times for the same trip.
  • The app seems to find, or at least arrange, results better than the website and often when you open the computer to find the deal you saw on your phone, it takes forever to sift through everything else.

ORBITZ.COM

Orbitz has been around forever and it’s a mainstay of the cheap flight aggregator websites. Die-hard fans of Orbitz rack up “Orbitz bucks” from booking while logged into the site and these can come in pretty handy to bring the cost of trips down even further.

Lately Orbitz seems to have more advertising on it than before and hey, everyone needs to make money, but the ads can get a bit tiresome.

Pros

  • Frequently finds good deals
  • Easy to select options (ie. non-stop, departure time)
  • Lists baggage fees and details on the search results
  • Good for package trips

Cons

  • It is automatically set to search “Packages” so for the inexperienced user you might either want to work slower when starting out with this site or you’ll find yourself in packaged Flights+Hotel+Trip+Car+++++ territory. For the seasoned traveler this can be very annoying.
  • Lots of ads

AIRTICKETS.COM (and international subsidiary sites)

More specifically, AirTickets.gr has become a favourite of mine since I started flying in and out of Athens regularly. This site has shown to find flights that others can’t even process.

For example, flying from Athens to the Dominican Republic. Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, etc turned up with “cannot find flights” whereas AirTickets.gr found lots of them, and at great prices!

I believe this is due to the airlines which they include in their searches. These airlines include smaller companies and less popular routes. Their algorithms also do not push to send you through major hubs like America.

Pros

  • Excellent fares on less common routes
  • Less common search range
  • Great international sites

Cons

  • Difficult to change the language on international sites
  • Might not find the best deals on standard / high traffic routes

AIRFAREWATCHDOG.COM

Airfarewatchdog is recommended by lots of frequent travellers and on their clean, simple site you can see why. Searching is easy and they often result in excellent flight costs.

If you’re just curious where you can go this site has lists of “Today’s Top Deals” and a selection of really cheap flights listed right on the homepage. Of course, these flights all come with conditions (ie. travel dates, regional airports, etc) but if you’re looking to spin the globe and go somewhere at random, this could be perfect for you.

Through this site you can also set up price alerts for specific airports which are close to home or destinations that you’d like to visit. Once a good fare is found by airfarewatchdog you’ll get an email and can book straight away.

Pros

Wide range of search options including ‘top deals’ which changes daily

Ability to set price alerts

Searches by home airport and dates to see where you can go on your budget

Highly responsive on social media

Cons

The homepage deals often link to exterior sites and require more searching to actually find the deal listed

Not great for international deals, this site is excellent for North America but not great for the rest of the world in my experience


So there you have it! 3 tips and 5 sites to try when you’re looking for your next adventure.

Do you use one of these sites?

Do you have a favourite way or site that helps you find cheap flights?

Please tell me in the comments! 🙂

About DeneaBuckingham

Denea is a world citizen and modern-day nomad. An Australian-American-Canadian, Denea left home at age 17 and has been traveling, learning, and loving life ever since. With a passion for exploration, scuba diving, spelunking, languages, and anthropology, Denea has traveled extensively around Australia, lived in the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and America. Denea is a member of the Explorers Club and is dedicated to building a community of passionate travel bloggers, adventurers, and friends around the world. Each time she ticks off a bucket list item, a new one takes its place. "The best souvenirs are the friends we make along the way."

Check Also

Wolf Week Returns to Sedona, Arizona April 15-22, 2018!

In 2017 I had the unparalleled pleasure of being one of the handlers with Apex …

2 comments

  1. Wow! Such an enlightening post, Denea! I didn’t know any of these sites but after reading your post, I will definitely start using them as I am a fan of budget travel! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms and Conditions

Legal and General Terms and Condition

Unless otherwise indicated, this Web Site and its contents are the sole and separate property of Travel Bloggers Tales, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (TBT). The copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material contained on this Web Site belongs to exclusively to TBT. The trademarks appearing on this Web Site are protected by the laws of the United States and international trademark laws.

In accessing this Web Site, you agree that the Web Site is made available for your personal, non-commercial use only. Unless you have TBT’s prior written permission, you are not permitted to copy, broadcast, make available to the public, download, store (in any medium), transmit, show or play in public, adapt or change in any way the material (or any part of it) contained on this Web Site for any purpose whatsoever.

THIS WEB SITE AND ITS CONTENT IS PROVIDED FOR USE “AS IS”. TBT MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THIS WEB SITE OR ITS CONTENTS, ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR PURPOSE RELATING TO THIS WEB SITE AND/OR ITS CONTENT AND/OR ANY WEB SITE TO WHICH IS LINKED ARE HEREBY TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW EXCLUDED. NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES ARE GIVEN AS TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE, OR ANY WEB SITE TO WHICH IT IS LINKED.

In no event shall TBT or its owners, employees, agents, suppliers, or contractors be liable for any damages of any nature, including without limitation any consequential loss, loss of income or profit, loss of or damage to property, claims of third parties, or any other loss, cost, claim or expense of any kind or character arising out of or in connection with the use of this Web Site, its content or any Web Site with which it is linked. This exclusion and limitation only applies to the extent permitted by law.

Access to this Site is permitted on a temporary basis and TBT reserves the right to withdraw or amend the service TBT provides on the Site or part of the Site without notice. TBT will not be liable or responsible if for any reason the Site is unavailable at any time or for any period.

You may view (and, where applicable, listen to and/or watch) the content and applications available on the Site for your own private non-commercial use. You must not use or allow others to access or use, all or any part of our Site or the contents and/or applications on it for commercial purposes without our permission. Use of all or any part of any Site or the contents and/or applications on it for commercial purposes shall be subject to separate terms and conditions and may be subject to a fee.

You may occasionally print individual pages of any Site for your private non-commercial use, provided that such printing is not substantial or systematic and our trade marks, copyright notices and trade mark notices are not removed.

You must not (whether directly or indirectly) (a) distribute, transmit, syndicate, sell or offer to sell or otherwise make available all or any part of any Site or in any way seek to commercialize all or part of the combination of materials which together constitute the Site, (b) distribute, transmit, syndicate, sell or offer to sell or otherwise make available any content, files, feeds or data from a Site, whether publically available or not, except as specifically permitted by that Site and in compliance with any applicable conditions or restrictions or (c) copy, download, or store any content, files, feeds or data from any Site, whether publically available or not, to make or populate a database or publication of any kind whatsoever unless is it is copying of an insubstantial part of any such material for your personal use.

If you are required to register to use the Site, it is your responsibility to provide accurate and complete registration details and to keep such details up to date. We are entitled to rely on any such registration details you provide to us.

Your registration with the Site must be in your own real, name, not under any false or assumed name and not with any other person’s identity. You must not pretend to be a different person. You must provide a valid email address when you register for any Site. If you provide an email address to us then you warrant to us that you are entitled to receive email to such email address.

If you are required to register to use the Site, you are responsible for everything done using your registration details. You must not disclose your login details to any other person. If you think that another person may have access to, or be using, your registration details, you must inform us immediately.

TBT may suspend, terminate or prevent your account and/or your access to any or all Site(s) at its sole discretion. Where TBT suspends, terminates or prevents your registration, you must not attempt to re-register or submit any content, material or applications without our prior written consent.

TBT may suspend, terminate or prevent your account and/or your access to TBT’s at its sole discretion. Where TBT suspends, terminates or prevents your registration, you must not attempt to re-register or submit any content, material or applications without our prior written consent.

Any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims), shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of California and you agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located in Los Angeles County, California. In the event of any legal action arising from or relating to these Terms of Use or your use of any Site, you hereby waive the right to a jury trial.

Should you have questions concerning this legal statement, our web site, or encounter any problems with this web site, please contact us.