For personal travel, the goal is to catch a flight deal. For me, it’s kind of like bargain shopping to find the right outfit for a special occasion. Luckily, there are several websites and apps that support this effort. These websites and apps are helpful in finding flight deals but you have to apply strategy when using them. Below, I’ll detail how we’ve been able to take flights to Thailand, Dubai, and Amsterdam each for under $600 roundtrip, Costa Rica for under $400 roundtrip, and Miami under $200 roundtrip.
The key word behind finding flight deals is FLEXIBILITY!
Be Flexible: Vacation Days
A vacation doesn’t have to start or end on certain days of the week. It’s totally okay for a vacation to be Tuesday through Monday. The difference of one day can have a significant impact on the cost of your flight. Recently, I took a trip to the Bahamas. If I would’ve left a day later, the flight would’ve cost 3x the amount.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t have a month or even a week in mind while traveling. Just be sure to see if catch a better flight deal by departing or returning on a different day.
Be Flexible: Airport
Most countries and many cities have multiple airports in its vicinity. For example, my hometown is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a 90 minute drive from Chicago. Chicago has two airports- Chicago Midway and Chicago O’Hare. Therefore, anytime I’m flying to or from Milwaukee, I check flight costs for the Chicago airports as well. Of course, you have to take into consideration the potential additional transportation and/or costs in using another airport.
Book Domestic and International Flights Separate
One other thing I do for international flights is book the international portion from a larger city and/or airport hub, i.e, New York, Chicago or Miami, as it’s pretty easy to catch a flight deal leaving from those cities. Then I’ll book a domestic flight from New Orleans, where I currently live, to the airport my international flight leaves from. The key is to make sure there is ample time between when you land and when your next flight departs. I also make sure both flights are with the same airline or airline alliance.
For example, we caught a great flight deal from New York to Bangkok, Thailand for about $500 roundtrip each ticket on China Eastern, a SkyTeam airline. Therefore, I bought separate tickets from New Orleans, where I currently live, to New York using my points (market rate was about $250 each) on Delta, another SkyTeam airline. If I would’ve purchased it as one ticket from New Orleans to Bangkok, tickets were closer to $1000 each. With three adults and two children on this trip, buying the domestic and international tickets separate saved us hundreds of dollars. You can check out our Thai adventures here
Additionally, since both tickets are with SkyTeam airlines, the check-in agent was kind enough to figure out how we could check our luggage at New Orleans and not have to pick them up until we arrived in Bangkok. Now, I must admit, the check-in agent is not always able to check your luggage to your final destination, so bake in enough time between flights to retrieve your luggage, check it back in and go back through security. But when checking your luggage at your initial airport, be sure to ask if they can check your luggage to your final destination. It never hurts to ask.
Be Flexible: Destination
For most of my trips, I just want to go somewhere new and explore. So what do I do? I go to Google Flights, put in my departure city, select the general timeframe that may work, and press the “Explore” button. There is a map that you can hover over and move across the various destinations and see the respective flight prices. Please note that this only works on a desktop.
This is exactly how the hubs and I caught a flight deal for our first #baecation since our twin boys. We were going to be in Miami for Thanksgiving so we could leave the boys there with family. The only criteria we had was a direct flight and less than $250 per round trip ticket (or better yet, I could use points.) After a few minutes using “Explore” on Google Flights, we determined Cuba was the destination. And it was absolutely amazing! You can check out the details of our amazing trip here.
Similarly, SkyScanner allows you to explore flight deals by country.
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I’m always on the hunt for a flight deal; I’m pretty spontaneous like that. If I can find something cheap enough (or I can use points) and relatively easy to execute, I may just add it to our travel schedule. Of course, it was a lot easier to do this before the boys. However, we actually took the boys’ first international trip this way.
I was actually sitting in the rocking chair, pumping for the boys and scrolling through my phone when I received a Flight Deal email that included flight deals to San Juan, Puerto Rico for around $200 or so. The deal was too good to be true! After a quick conversation with my husband and mom, as we like to travel with at least one additional adult when we have the boys, we booked our flights and we were on our way to Puerto Rico a few weeks later.
Do be aware that some flight deals don’t last a long time; therefore, you may have to act quickly to get the deal.
Some of my favorite Flight Deal email subscriptions and websites:
- Google Flights
- https://www.hopper.com/ (app to determine the best time to purchase your flight)
Happy flight deal hunting folks!