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Travel Tips

4 Ways To Find Cheap Flights Anywhere

Travel big without breaking the bank

The Vacationeer
An airplane over the Paris skyline and Eiffel Tower at sunrise

If you’ve noticed higher airfare prices this year, you’re not alone. The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that airline ticket prices outpaced the overall rate of inflation as tens of millions of passengers travel by plane this year. 

Don’t let sticker shock stop your vacation plans. Consider taking a scenic train ride to your destination or a cross-country road trip for domestic trips. But if you travel by plane, here are four ways to fly on a budget.

A snowy ski lift on Mount Tremblant, Canada 

1. Book The Right Time

You may have heard the myth that waiting to book until the “right” day of the week guarantees cheaper flights. However, that is no longer the case because airlines update their flights hourly rather than weekly.

What this means for you is that there’s no magical day of the week to book. Instead, focus on finding the cheapest days to fly. Sundays, Mondays and Fridays tend to be busy travel days, so opt to fly off-peak on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Shoulder season travel also means more affordable domestic and international flights, so spring and fall is the ideal time to hit hot destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City.

2. Use Tools To Your Advantage

Another outdated budget travel tip is that searching in incognito mode or clearing your cookies can help you nab lower prices. Airlines now rely on advanced algorithms that make these hacks ineffective. While there is no trick to help you find the cheapest flight, tools can help ease the search.

Sign up for airline newsletters to watch for deals without scouring the Internet. Airlines don’t advertise their best fares widely, so don’t wait until Black Friday or for a promo code to get the best deal.

An aerial view of The Point at Poipu, a Hilton Vacation Club in Kauai, Hawaii 

Insider tip: Flight prices constantly change, so jump on the best deals when you find them. If you change your mind, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to refund your money if you cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking.

Google Flights is also a great tool for traveling on a budget. Google Flights lets you search most airlines, access historical price data and customize your search, narrowing your search to specific airlines, nonstop flights and even price ranges. You can even track your flight and receive alerts if the price changes.

3. Be Flexible

Keep your plans flexible and start your vacation planning by searching for flights rather than buying your ticket last. Google Flights’ calendar view makes this easy, helping you determine the cheapest days to fly in just a few clicks.

Be open to layovers. Nonstop flights (counterintuitively) cost more, so you can save if you’re willing to add a layover, especially if you’re looking for affordable international flights. Mix and match airlines on each leg of your journey for significant savings.

Explore airports around your destination. For example, if you’re heading to Napa Valley for a wine-filled long weekend, don’t just search for flights to the closest airport, Santa Rosa (STS). Expand your search to include San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and San Jose International Airport (SJC), all within driving distance of Napa, to increase your odds of nabbing a cheaper flight. 

Balcony view of New York City skyscrapers 

4. Shake Up Your Travel Plans

Traveling on a budget is possible, especially if you’re willing to get creative. Use Google Flights Explore to find cheap flights anywhere, especially if you just need a vacation. Enter your local airport, input your dates or mark “Flexible dates” to see where you can go. Click through the list and explore the map to find the best deals.

Filter your results based on your preferred number of stops, price, flight duration and other factors. While the Explore feature can’t search beyond six months (unless you enter specific dates), it’s a great tool for travel inspiration.

Or try a stopover for two trips for the price of one. A stopover is — as the name suggests — a stop on the way to your destination that lasts more than 24 hours versus a shorter layover. Adding a stopover is a way to maximize your flight and visit another city at no additional charge.

Finally, traveling off the beaten path is a great way to afford travel without breaking the bank. Explore new destinations like the serene beaches of Kauai, Hawaii; the snowy slopes of Whistler, Canada; or the desert oasis of Palm Springs, California.

Read “Top 10 Exotic Vacation Destinations In The United States” for vacation inspiration that’s closer to home.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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