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How to find the best flight deals

How to find the best flight deals

After snagging two < $700 trips to Europe in less than six months, I have gotten a lot of questions about how to find the best flight deals. There are various loyalty programs for airlines and hotels as well as credit cards that you can utilize and I will write another post about those ways at some point. However, now I want to focus on the traveler who wants to know how to find the best flight deals without miles, credit card points, or loyalty status.

Austin and I on our most recent trip to Maui at Haleakala Crater.
Austin and I on our most recent trip to Maui at Haleakala Crater.

There are two ways that you can go about planning your travel when looking for deals…

1) Have set days and a flexible destination

OR

2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates

Now if you have both set travel days and a set travel destination, you can find several flight trackers that will let you know if/when the price drops. But for now, back to the deal finding.

1) Have set days and a flexible travel destination.

So you requested your vacation a year in advance and it’s something that cannot be changed? This is largely our situation when I am planning on going on vacations with my husband since he is a surgery resident and their vacation dates are planned up to 16 months in advance.

Your best friend in this situation is Google Flights. If you haven’t used Google Flights before, you are really missing out. You can read more about Google Flights here.

With fixed dates, I like to set my departing airport and dates in Google Flights and then for the destination you can put “Europe” or “South America”. From there you can peruse the destinations to see what comes up for you and your particular dates. This is exactly how we decided we were going to Paris because the dates we had for vacation were already set and the flight prices on those days were cheap.

google-flights-europe-input
This is what you will see when typing in google flights. Then you click on the picture that looks like a map.
google-flights-europe-map
This is what comes up when you click on the map picture under google flights and you are searching for European destinations. Here you can click on cities to view flight details.
google-flights-south-america-map
This is what comes up when you click on the map picture under google flights and you are searching for South American destinations. Here you can click on cities to view flight details.

Now let’s review the other scenario that you might have and how to find the best flight deals…

2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates

Have you been dreaming of a trip to Hawaii? London? Tokyo? For people with more flexible dates but with a great idea where you want to go, you have two routes. The first is to check out Google Flights again. On Google Flights you can put in your timeframe, picking say a week in October and then pulling up the calendar. When you have the calendar pulled up, you can see what days are cheaper. You can also use the flexible dates option where it will show you a graph of the cheapest days to leave and come back. Lastly with Google Flights you can set the number of days you would like to be gone for and then search by price using the Price Graph feature. Google Flights can also send you price notifications as well.

Using the calendar feature on Google Flights.
Using the calendar feature on Google Flights.
Using the flexible dates feature on Google Flights.
Using the flexible dates feature on Google Flights.
Using the Trip Planner feature on Google Flights.
Using the Price Graph feature on Google Flights.

The other option with flexible dates is to utilize Kayak. The best way to do this is from a computer rather than a tablet or a phone. Then google “cheap flights from [insert your home airport code/city] to [insert destination airport code/city]”. So for example, if I live in Salt Lake City and I want to go to Maui, I would google “cheap flights from SLC to Maui”.

From there, click on the Kayak link (may not be the first one or two results). Many websites have this function somewhat including Google Flights, but I really do like Kayak’s the best. From there you will see a nice price graph. The difference between this price graph and the one from Google, is that this is comparing trip prices across varying different lengths. Why is this helpful? Well if a 7 day trip flight price is $900 and an 8 day trip flight price is $650, odds are you would want to do the 8 day trip because it would likely be a cheaper overall option for you unless you are spending a lot of money on hotels.

kayak-slc-to-maui
How to find the best flight deals when you search on Kayak. You can scroll with the arrows on the bar graph to change the date time frame.

Hopefully you are now ready to book your next trip. Make sure you check out my pictures from Hawaii and subscribe to my list to get more travel tips. Have any other tips you have found for how to find the best flight deals without using miles, credit card points, or loyalty status? Leave them in the comments!

Cheering on our favorite tall drinks while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
Cheering on our favorite Tar Heels while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
How to find the best flight deals
Kaanapali Beach from the Hyatt Regency.
How to find the best flight deals
Kaanapali Beach from the Hyatt Regency.
How to find the best flight deals
Enjoying a nice walk on the beach
How to find the best flight deals
Austin enjoying the beach.
How to find the best flight deals
Second angle.
On the beach!
On the beach!
Before yoga on the beach
Before yoga on the beach
Luau ready
Luau ready

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The incredible view from the swim up bar at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
The incredible view from the swim up bar at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
Heels win the championship!
Heels win the championship!
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Austin at the Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Me at the Haleakala National Park
Me at the Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Mama's Fish House drink. Our meal and drinks were amazing! *Side note* The bartender mentioned he averages 1000 drinks per day and there are two different bars in this restaurant!
Mama’s Fish House drink. Our meal and drinks were amazing! *Side note* The bartender mentioned he averages 1000 drinks per day and there are two different bars in this restaurant!
Sunset outside of Mama's Fish House.
Sunset glow outside of Mama’s Fish House.

Currently reading: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

Currently listening to (I actually JUST finished it as I was typing this): “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero ****If you haven’t read or listened to this book yet, PLEASE do. This is somewhere around the 10th time in the last year I have read/listened to it and it is SUCH a great book. Very influential mindset wise. I always get something new out of it each time.


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