Travel

Here's How You Can Actually Find The Cheapest Flights Ever

Fly the budget skies.

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Don't worry! There are actually tons of easy ways to find the cheapest flights around — you've just gotta be smart about it. Follow these insider tips from travel experts, and you'll basically be a budget flight-finding ninja.

1. Start by hitting up as many good airfare search engines as you can — do NOT limit yourself to just one.

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Big meta search engines basically aggregate flight information from a variety of sources. But they're not all the same, so it's important that you peruse a couple of them when you're first starting your hunt. Hipmunk, Google Flights, Kayak, Skyscanner, Momondo, and Jetradar are all good places to start.

2. And be sure to play around with all of the tools each site has.

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They can be great resources if you know that they exist — and you know how to use them! Hipmunk, for instance, lets you see the lowest fares for the next 90 days all in one very visual chart.

3. But don't assume that meta search sites will always find the best deals.

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"Big meta search sites often won't pull in all the budget airlines, like WOW air and Norwegian," Brian Kelly, CEO of the deal-finding travel website The Points Guy, tells BuzzFeed Life.

4. "So look up the places you're going, and see if any budget airlines go there," Kelly advises.

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If you find a cheaper deal on a budget airline, just book your tickets directly through the airline's website. Here's a helpful list of the best budget airlines around the world, and another one of the best budget airline on every continent. You can also just Google your destination + "budget airline," and see what pops up.

A word of caution: Flying on budget airlines often means you won't get as many perks as you do on bigger lines. Also, if it means you will fly into an inconvenient airport that will cost you more to get where you're going than you're saving in the first place, then it's not worth it. So do your research.

5. Follow a select group of people and businesses who constantly scour the internet for deals — so you really don't have to do it yourself.

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They literally devote their working hours to finding deals, which makes them ~amazing~ resources. Go to their websites on a daily basis, sign up for their deal alerts, and, perhaps most importantly, follow them on Twitter. They are constantly posting up-to-the-minute deals on flights all over the world.

Some great deal-hunting sites: The Points Guy, The Flight Deal, Airfare Watchdog, Holiday Pirates

And their Twitter handles: @ThePointsGuy, @TheFlightDeal, @AirfareWatchdog, @HolidayPiraten

Matt Kepnes, who runs the travel site Nomadic Matt, also sends out a great weekly newsletter with timely deals. Sign up for that here.

6. Sign up for newsletters and deal alerts directly from the airline, too.

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They are a wealth of information! And in some cases, the information they release is only available if you get it directly through them.

Here's where to sign up for the alerts for most U.S.-based airlines.

7. If you see a good deal on any of these sites, book it right then and there (if you can).

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"Don't wait!" emphasizes Kelly. "Most airlines let you cancel in 24 hours. So book it, and most of the time, you can get your money back in 24 hours." In other words, these deals go away realllllly quickly, so it's important to jump on it if you see a good one — and chances are, you can backtrack accordingly if you change your mind.

8. Instead of choosing where you want to go first, consider finding the cheapest flight first — and then just go to there.

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Sites like Kayak and Google Flights have magical "explore" tools that can basically decide your next vacation spot for you. Instead of typing in your destination, simply type in your departure airport and other details, like how much you want to spend round trip and how long you want your flight to be — and it will show you the cheapest places to go from where you are.

So be flexible! If all you want to do is go somewhere warm in February, let the Powers That Be on the internet determine where, exactly, that warm place shall be.

9. Book your tickets one to two months in advance of your trip.

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That's the sweet spot. "Generally, if you book a year in advance, you may get a better price, but there's a higher chance you'll have to change it (and incur a steep change fee). If you book the day before the trip, the fare will be really high," Roxy Young, Hipmunk's vice president of marketing, tells BuzzFeed Life.

10. And try to book them on a Tuesday or a Wednesday.

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"Airlines generally launch fare sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. People are back in their offices and ready to book. But really, in this day of social media, so many deals come and go quickly," explains Kelly.

Point: Though you may have better luck finding a sale on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, there are so many other sales during the week that booking on the "right" day may not be as important as keeping tabs on all of the deal sites in the first place.

11. And aim to fly on a Saturday or a Tuesday.

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"They are the cheapest days to fly, because business travelers aren't traveling then, and leisure travelers want to maximize the weekend [so they don't like to fly on these days]," says Kelly. As a result, flights are generally a bit cheaper on those days. "Plus, it's less stressful then, too!" adds Kelly.

12. But be flexible with your dates either way.

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Even if you don't fly on a Tuesday or Saturday, be sure to scope the prices of other flights on different days. Sometimes, simply flying on one different day can save you hundreds of dollars.

13. Consider choosing an alternative route, rather than flying round-rip with the same airline.

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For example, if you're flying to Europe, it can sometimes be cheaper to fly into one city from New York, and then take a budget European airline to your final destination, rather than flying on the same line the entire way.

That's what travel expert Matt Kepnes did on a trip to Paris: "I had to go to Paris once; the flight was $900, but I could fly to Dublin for $600, and get a $60 flight to Paris. It meant more flying time, but the $240 I saved was worth it," he writes on his travel blog Nomadic Matt.

14. Or go to destinations during their "shoulder" season — i.e., the edge of the peak season (not completely off-peak).

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Remember: "A unique place is going to be unique no matter what," says Kelly. And flights are much cheaper. His advice: Go to Europe in late fall instead of July (when most people go), or China in January, or Rio during our summer, since everyone else wants to go during New Year's.

Plus, going during the shoulder season often has its own benefits. "Everyone wants to go to Chile in our winter, because it's their summer — but if you go in our summer, they also have great skiing. And I personally love Europe in October or April. Places like Greece and Spain can be hot in April and May — and flights are cheaper," he continues. Bonus: It's also way less crowded.

15. If you can handle having multiple credit cards, try opening up different ones to redeem miles.

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This is a whole thing, and you really have to be good at paying your bills on time if you do it. If you trust yourself, this is a great way to get cheap flights. Here's everything you need to know about earning airline miles.

16. "The best ones to open are targeted directly to you, so all you need to do, really, is open your snail mail," explains Kelly.

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"There is also a tool on creditcards.com called the 'card match tool,' where you find out which cards are best for you. You may get a targeted [sign-up] offer of 100,000 miles rather than the [more standard] 40,000 miles," he continues.

Otherwise, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Starwood Preferred Guests, and American Express are Kelly's picks for top travel rewards cards.

17. And don't be afraid to sign up up for these cards at the 11th hour, practically RIGHT before your trip.

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"Airlines open up tons of reward space at the lowest levels within the last week to two weeks of travel," Kelly points out, "so it's often the best time to open up rewards cards." Remember: Airlines don't want the seats to be empty. "They want you to redeem the miles. They reward last-minute bookers," he emphasizes.

"Delta and British Airways are the best for last-minute bookings, because they don't charge ANY last-minute booking fees (some other airlines will charge $75)," Kelly says. And he really is the pro: He once flew from New York's JFK to Ghana for $5.60!