How To Find The Cheapest Flights To Anywhere (Complete Guide)

Book Cheap Flights
How To Find Cheap Flights
Cheap Flight Travel Tips

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, but airline tickets often are. Here’s how to find the cheapest flights possible and get the best airline deals on your next vacation.

Flying from the US has become a bit more complicated with COVID-19, however there are still many countries accepting American tourists.

Flying can be expensive if you don’t know how to book cheap flights.

Plus, there are so many different airfare search engines and comparison sites these days, along with new airlines popping up — and others that suddenly disappear.

How do you find the cheapest tickets available for flying to your next destination?

After 10 years of traveling the world professionally, I’ve learned a few tricks and budget flying tips that will help you save money on your next flight — so you can arrive at your destination for a reasonable price.

So pack your bags and let’s go find some low-cost flights!

How To Find Cheap Flights In 2020

1. Use The Best Flight Search Engines

Using a good airfare search engine is one of the easiest ways to find the cheapest flights possible. These sites search for tickets across many different airlines, and offer helpful tools like price prediction, price maps based on destinations, fare alerts by email, and more.

It’s a good idea to check multiple flight search engines before you book a ticket though. You never know which site may have the best price for flights.

Some search engines offer better deals than others — so here are my top 5 that I use (in order) whenever I’m searching for my next flight.

My Favorite Cheap Flight Comparison Sites

  • Skyscanner (my #1 choice for cheap flights)
  • Momondo (similar to Skyscanner, but not quite as good)
  • Kiwi (includes connecting flights to find deals)
  • JetRadar (searches many budget airlines)
  • Google Flights (Google’s attempt at a flight search engine)

Generally, my first stop is Skyscanner when searching for cheap flights.

When I find a good deal, before I book it, I’ll also double check the other sites to ensure I’m getting the best price.

2. Get Error & Discount Fare Alerts

Discount Flight Alerts

In addition to searching on multiple flight search engines, I also recommend you set up fare alerts for each one.

Punch in the details about your intended destination, a range of dates, and let the website alert you via email when prices drop.

There are also a few secret airfare hunting websites that scour the internet for the best deals possible, doing all the digging work for you.

Join Flight Deal Newsletters

Scott’s Cheap Flights is a great service I use that hires a whole team of people to look for hidden airfare discounts. You can try them out for free to see if its worth getting a paid subscription (spoiler alert, it is!).

Browse Error Fare Alert Websites

What is an error or mistake fare? Basically, airlines frequently make mistakes when they price out certain routes.

But if they advertise that price, and you buy a ticket, they have to honor the price even if it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than it should have been. Score!

Mistake fares don’t often last long, because the airline will fix it as soon as they realize their mistake. There are websites out there that track these mistakes, and share them with you when they happen. For example, listing a flight from New York City to Paris for $50 instead of $700.

If you check these sites regularly, or sign up for their newsletters, you can get lucky and score some huge flight deals that other people may never see!

3. Find The Cheapest Days To Fly

Cheapest Flights by Month
Search the Cheapest Dates for Flying

There are many theories out there about when are the best days or months to fly for the cheapest airfares. It’s not an exact science, but in general the following hold true:

Book A Few Months In Advance

For international flights, booking 2-8 months in advance will land you the best airline deals. For domestic flights, booking 1-3 months in advance results in the cheapest flights.

Best Days To Fly

The best days to depart seem to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday because they’re off-peak with less passengers and lower airfares.

Early morning flights or red-eyes (overnight) will usually be cheaper too.

Another way to save money on tickets is by flying during the off-season, or shoulder seasons, when there will be less demand. For example? Iceland in the Fall/Winter, or Mexico in the Summer.

The easiest way to figure it out though, is to get a visual guide on which days are the cheapest for your particular destination. Here’s how to do that!

  • STEP 1: Visit the Skyscanner website or download their app
  • STEP 2: Enter your departure & arrival cities
  • STEP 3: When choosing a date, select the “Cheapest Month” option so you can browse all dates. Hit “Search flights” to easily find the cheapest flights.

If you need to travel during a certain month, you can also search by month, to see which day has the best price.

4. Join Major Airline Newsletters

The best airfare deals are often available on the airlines’ own web sites, and many come in the form of promo codes and special offers.

Signing up to the airline’s newsletter gives you access to these deals, sometimes as big as 50% off the published fares!

Some airlines require you to be a part of their loyalty program to sign up for these special newsletters. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

If you sign up for a bunch of airline newsletters like this, I recommend using your email filters to automatically move the emails into a specific folder so your inbox doesn’t get overrun.

5. Book Tickets In January & February!

Cheap Airline Tickets
Learn When to Book your Flights

Some of the cheapest airline tickets I’ve seen are made available during the month of January & February. Round trip flights from the United States to Europe or Africa for under $500!? Yes please!

You don’t need to travel during those months, it just means booking your tickets then.

Airlines seem to love offering cheap flights at the beginning of the year. Probably because people are out of money after the holidays and they’re trying to boost demand.

Keep this in mind when planning your travels next year, and set aside some cash to book your summer vacation flights during the early months of January or February.

6. Check Alternative Airports

If you happen to live near a few airports, remember to check the fares for each of them, as well as alternative airports or large hubs near your intended destination.

Sometimes traveling by bus to or from a different airport can save you a lot of money on flights.

In the past I’ve saved a few hundred dollars choosing a $10 bus ride to New York rather than flying directly out of Boston. It takes longer, so you’ll have to weigh the opportunity cost.

7. Try Flying Budget Airlines

Budget Airlines are Cheaper
Use Budget Airlines for Discounted Flights

In addition to searching the major airline booking sites, check which budget airlines (low cost carriers) fly to your intended travel destination. You may be surprised at just how cheap these flights can be…

Budget airlines are able to charge less for flights because they don’t offer all the fancy services of the major airlines (or they charge extra for them). Things like free checked bags, snacks, drinks, extra legroom, etc.

Budget Airline Example Fares

NEW YORK CITY (JFK) – ROME (FCO) for $429 roundtrip with Norwegian Air.

LOS ANGELES (LAX) – BANGKOK (BKK) for $446 roundtrip with Air Asia.

Some budget airlines don’t allow the big meta flight search engines to include their fares in search results, requiring you to visit the airline’s official website.

Cheap tickets on budget airlines are often non-refundable and can’t be changed — plus they may fly to smaller airports outside the main city, requiring additional travel time on the ground.

Top Budget Airlines

Of course there’s far more than this, and Wikipedia has an excellent list of low-cost carriers around the world.

8. Pick The Cheapest Destinations

Skyscanner Cheap Flight Map
Compare Prices by Destination

The more flexible you are, the better your chances of discovering cheap flights. So try picking your destination based on where the deals are!

Some websites make this easy like the Skyscanner Inspire Map.

You are presented with a price map for different destinations based on your departure airport.

Flying to a random location can be a lot of fun too, and you may end up discovering an area of the world you hadn’t planned on visiting.

Flexibility and spontaneity can save you money on flights.

9. Use A Good VPN Service

One sneaky way airlines attempt to make the most profit is by charging different fares for people in different countries.

For example, booking domestic flights from outside the country will often be more expensive than booking inside the country.

Prices may change based on where the transaction is completed, or the “point-of-sale”. However you can beat them at their game using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide your location or pretend to be somewhere else.

I use Private Internet Access VPN because it’s easy, affordable, has a smartphone app, and doesn’t slow down my connection.

While using a VPN can save you money on flights, it’s a myth that airlines use website cookies to mess with your fares. Going “incognito” on your browser won’t actually do anything… trust me, I’ve tried.

10. Hitchhiking On Airplanes?

Small Plane
Hitchhiking on Airplanes is Free!

Did I ever tell you about the time I hitchhiked on an airplane? Sure — I know this isn’t practical for most people.

I just thought you’d like to see a unique way I was able to score a free flight once! And to check if you’re still paying attention… haha.

Just like searching for the best deal on flights, hitchhiking on an airplane requires a mix of patience, flexibility, and a little luck too!

11. Book Flight Legs Separately

For long-distance flights, it can pay to book different legs separately rather than all at once. I discovered it was about $200 cheaper for me to fly from Boston to Copenhagen, followed by Copenhagen to Dublin on a budget airline, rather than book a multi-leg trip from Boston to Dublin all at once.

You may even save money on the same exact itinerary, just booking each section independently. Or by booking two one way tickets instead of one round trip. Spend 30 minutes experimenting and see what you come up with.

Remember though, it’s important to keep an eye on arrival & departure times for these flights to give yourself enough time to transfer. Otherwise you might miss your flight!

12. Fly Free With Credit Card Miles

Free Flights with Airline Miles
Become a Travel Hacker!

It took me a few years to get into travel-hacking (using points & miles to redeem for free flights), but now I try to recommend it to others whenever I can!

Last year my wife and I traveled to Antarctica, flying to Argentina for only $294 roundtrip. We were able to do this because we’d quickly built up a collection of airline miles that covered two(!) round-trip flights from New York, saving us over $2000 USD.

When you sign up for the right travel rewards credit cards, and use them wisely, it’s easier than you might think to save up enough miles for a free flight — you only pay for taxes.

13. Open-Jaw (Round The World) Tickets

An open-jaw ticket is a round-trip airline ticket where the destination and/or the origin are not the same in both directions. Meaning you fly to one city, then travel to another city (or country, or many) before returning home.

These are also sometimes known as “RTW Tickets” or “Round The World” tickets.

With this option, you can visit many different cities during your trip, but it costs much less than booking all the flights separately. OneWorld is a great resource for booking a RTW ticket.

14. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute

So you’ve finally found the cheapest flights available for your destination, but you heard somewhere that if you wait and book at the last minute — the flights could be cheaper. Don’t do it!

Sure, very rarely the prices might drop if you wait. But it’s FAR more likely that they will increase!

Research shows that booking your flight 3-months in advance seems to be the optimal time to get cheap flights.

This is due to the airlines reducing the price in order to drum up demand — because the airplane is basically still empty. However once it starts filling up, they are able to raise them as people get increasingly desperate for the last spots.

More Useful Tips For Booking Flights

  • Flying on a one-way ticket? You may be asked for proof of a return ticket before boarding. This is the dreaded Proof Of Onward Travel Rule.
  • Make sure to check out to find the most comfortable seats on a particular airplane model and airline you’re going to fly with.
  • Have some random question about flying, airlines, or routes? Ask the people over in the FlyerTalk forum for advice (they’re all flying nerds!).
  • Did your flight get delayed or canceled? You may be eligible for compensation — up to hundreds of dollars through Compensair.

Enjoy Your Next Cheap Flight!

So, there you have it. These are the tactics & resources I personally use to find the cheapest flights around the world.

In fact, I recently scored round-trip tickets from Boston to Dublin, Ireland for only $614 using these techniques.

Flying doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to find the best deals and are willing to put in the effort.

Flexibility combined with spending an extra 30 minutes searching can save you hundreds of dollars. ★

Travel Planning Resources

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.

Book Your Flight

Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Cheap Accommodation

Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.

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I hope you enjoyed my guide to finding cheap flights! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about finding cheap flights? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (70)

  1. The best strategy for me has been booking Around The World Flights. As we live in New Zealand, we need to fly every time we go overseas. So I get in touch with a savvy travel agent and start querying about dates, destinations, free long stopovers and then build the flights. For example, 2 years ago we did: New Zealand, Argentina, Italy, China, New Zealand for $ 1620 USD. Note that we started and finished in NZ, so it’s a round trip. We did this over the course of 4.5 months.

    What we are doing now (we leave in three weeks) is New Zealand, Chile, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand for $ 1500 USD.

    How did we find this? Combining Skyscanner, Momondo and with a travel agent. Bare in mind that you don’t necessarily need to buy from the travel agent, I mean don’t abuse BUT for example one Andrew told me to book my flight through Momondo as I found a way better fare! Be open, and enjoy building flights :)

    On a side note, we are doing this because we are from South America and every year we go back home visiting, otherwise, I’d just stick to a continent and would avoid flying that much.

    • Thanks for the great cheap flying tips Martina! All of these are useful for sure. Travel agents still have access to some great deals too.

  2. Hi, great info. Do you know if I have a Uk debit card and for instance now I am in Thailand and I want to book a flight from Australia to NZ which would be the best currency to book it in? I just booked a flight from Thailand to Australia and it was cheaper in to pay in Thai baht and saved me £15 but I am in Thailand already…any idea how any of that works? Also would it make a difference of the location of the airline/website your booking through? Thanks for any help!

  3. Also search incognito on your browser.
    Various sites detect you are searching and up the price while in the process of looking.

  4. Wow, the VPN service is something I’ve never thought of or heard of before now. That’s a great tip! Wonder if that would help when booking European continental travel by train as well. Have always felt like I’m getting ripped off when I book Eurostar or national rail tickets from the states.

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. I flew from Paris to Arizona, three months back. I had been trying to save money with the VPN trick and was able to actually around $400 on my flight ticket.

  6. Yep, VPN trick definitely works wonders. I got it mainly because I needed one that is both fast and can bypass serious network restrictions such as the ones in the Middle East and China. I didn’t even know that it will be so useful when searching for better deals until my wife tried it. So worth it.

  7. Actually, also really important is the timing day-wise. They say during the night, like Tuesday on Wednesday is the best time to book, on weekends everyone is looking for flights so prices go up.. Dream on and Namaste:)

    • That’s very true Jessi! Thanks for reminding me. If you’re searching during peak times, it’s harder to find cheap flights.

  8. Yes, I think the key is to purchase a VPN with a bunch of servers in different countries and have options on where to connect.

  9. Hello! I just wanted to point out that not only is the website skypool down for good, I believe flight-sharing is now illegal in the U.S. (well unless the pilots and whatnot have all the same expensive licensing and stuff that airlines like Delta would have). The FAA and their politics! *shakes fist*

  10. Matthew- Love this post. Super helpful as far as looking for cheap flights. Have you found rewards programs or flight points with specific airlines to be beneficial? Which airline would you suggest for the best rewards system?

  11. Hey Matthew, have you heard about I have the feeling that they have great deals on cheap flights. I’m booking always through them these days.
    You might want to check it out :)

  12. This is great. Very helpful. I will be going fort a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be leaving Lagos-Nigeria on Oct 7 and will be departing US on Oct 20 for Nigeria.

    Please, can anyone help me with cheap ticket deals available or tell me some search engine names i could use from here.

    Hoping to read from you all soon.


    • try skyscanner, kayak or momondo.. or just read through Matthew’s post again. All tips are clearly stated and easy to follow

  13. Do you recommend utilizing certain credit cards/points/miles? I have never tapped into that realm. Is it worth it?


    • That’s a different topic, but yes, I have a couple travel credit card for this purpose. I’m not a pro, but my friend Nomadic Matt is. Check out his guide here.

  14. Hi Matthew,

    I just came across your post, very useful :-) for booking separate flights, I found a site called Tripcombi some weeks ago. I hadn’t bought with them yet, but I found a flight from Costa Rica to Amsterdam for $400 ($80 less than the one I already had). The downside? They don’t offer yet any kind of guarantee in case you miss a leg of the flight, but still worth checking it ;-)

    • That’s always a risk when trying to book separate legs. I always try to give myself at least 3-4 hours to connect, just in case. You sometimes have to change terminals.

  15. Hey Matt, sounds like you’re having an absolute ball! I’m 16 and just got back from a three week trip in the USA, and I am planning a year-long trip across the world for when I complete school. After reading through all sorts on your website, you’ve inspired me to seriously consider living the lifestyle that you have. Travelling some-what long-term has always been in the books and you have definitely shown me that it isn’t impossible to do. For you accommodation, what do you mainly do? I am trying to look for ways to cut down on spending and just wondering if you have any recommendations for a first-time solo travel? (Which may turn into a life-time but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves!)

  16. Dude, I’ve been reading your blog, ideas and tips now for about an hour and it’s by far the best research I’ve done for my adventure next year thank you one question though do you need to buy round trips for a lot of places I’m planning on landing in Mexico and just going south do I need to buy an exit ticket or no?

    • It depends on the airline. Some want to see “proof of onward travel“. However you can just buy the cheapest one-way (refundable) airline ticket to a country next door, then cancel it for a refund after you get into Mexico. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  17. Hi Matthew, your website has been a real treasure trove for me, many thanks. I am quitting my job in 2 weeks to go around the world surfing on my own. I have been hearing recently that many countries won’t let you in unless you have an “exit” ticket to another destination. Is this true?

  18. It is January! How can I tell if my September flights are cheapest now or will be best 4-10 weeks before the trip? Is there a site that shows the flight costs for different destinations for a previous year? (I have tried to find one without success) How does one know that Boston to Dublin for $614 is a great deal without spending years researching and travelling as you have done? Thanks!

  19. Wow, I never thought about hitchhiking on an airplane. It sounds really cool.
    Great ideas here. I’ll be checking out those cheaper flights this month.

  20. 52 years old and I believe its time to take a leap with this world travel Gig. Life is short and it is just passing me by. Any advice? Have a little cash stashed not sure how long it would last me. Is it possible to work over there to make ends meet and to keep on traveling. Leap of faith.

  21. Hi, great blog.

    I am 42 years old and have traveled to 122 countries throughout my life. I have lived and worked in 14. I am full of travel tips and ideas and have been wanting to do a blog for years but get too lazy. Now I see the market is flooded with travel blogs and I feel that I am too late to start.

    Most of the tips you have given, I have used for many years. I am at the stage where I want to start to settle down a little, travel less but I have all this travel knowledge but do not know what to do with it.

    It’s doing my head in.

    • Hi , so wonderfull to read about people who realy explore the world. I am going to have my holiday soon and I am wondering where I can head off for 1week up to 10 days in October. Would be nice to heare from you some tips . Greatfull //iw

  22. Hey,

    If you ever want a travel companion to explore Central and South America with, let me know. I moved to Costa Rica last year and it is difficult to find like-minded travel partners. Sharing costs is always a good way to reduce expenses. I love to hike and do adventure sports.

    Be well and happy!

    • Hey Makela! When I’m in the mood for a travel buddy, I usually hang out at backpacking hostels. But thanks for the offer! Maybe I’ll see you out on the road somewhere. I’ve been thinking of visiting South America next year.

  23. Thank you for posting this mathew, I have now an idea how to budget my travel expenses specially my airline ticket. Great tips!

  24. I love all of these suggestions. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog posts. I appreciate you sharing your expertise and travel insider information. I cannot wait to try the VPN and the sites you mentioned in this article. Your information is very helpful to the lay consumer. I travel domestically mostly but still find airline tickets outrageously overpriced. Safe travels wherever you might be!

  25. I’m curious if these tips work for business class? My travel is transatlantic – USA to The UK – and I’ve found that the so-called brokers who can save 50-70% can’t do any better than I can myself using Kayak or a similar search engine. It’s more expensive but as a big guy the extra comfort on a long flight is worth it in my opinion. Still, I like to save where I can as that is the most expensive part of my trips.

    Not germane to the subject but another way I save on travel is to explore house-sitting opportunities at my destination. Thanks for all your great advice.

  26. Yes !! Cannot wait to use all of these tomorrow when I day dream and flight dream (daydreaming while looking at flights)

    Thanks for the tips !!!!

  27. I’m a little skeptical about the hitchhiking part, I doubt this is possible in today’s day and age with security paranoia.

    I’ve never used a VPN but found I got cheaper tickets sometimes by changing to the local website ie .de instead of .com.

    Good to know about booking in Jan/Feb.

    • Well it worked for me 2 years ago — pretty sure it still would. It’s not easy, but it is possible. People share rides on personal airplanes all the time.

  28. I never even considered the VPN bit. I’ve noticed a large difference between prices I can get here in South Africa and those a friend who lives in the States is able to get. It seems so unfair but it’s understandable. I think there’s actually a site that you can go to that gets you low prices by skipping middle layover routes, but cannot recall what it was called.

  29. have you tried ITA Matrix? it allows you to simulate the country in which you want to buy your ticket without the hassle of setting a VPN…

  30. Great Post Matthew thanks for the tips i am always looking for affordable airline tickets!! my dad always said that if you plan your trip with time you will find a ticket more affordable

  31. It’s not easy to be super flexible with dates for most people but I really think this is the best tip for cheap flights. I’ve found some amazing deals if I was willing to travel when they told me too! It’s worth trying :)

  32. For some reason I find using Skyscanner is amazing outside of North America. When in North America, Expedia somehow manages to get me awesome deals. Do you think location is a factor when choosing a search engine?

  33. Thanks so much for sharing all these tips. It will definitely help me a lot. I totally agree with you about image comment that Google flights are cool thing.

  34. This is great advice! If many people are like me, one of the things most holding me back from traveling is the price of airlines. Thank you for sharing!

  35. Great advice! I would also add that the day you book your flight can actually influence the cost. I read this WSJ article about it and if you’re flying domestic the biggest price drop is 57 days in advance, and for international its 171 days in advance. Just a rough estimate but buying around that time could save you a lot!

  36. Searching through websites and finding flight deals is definitely one of my hobbies. I sometimes can spent hours just sitting on skyscanner and checking their flight deals. :) I like how they show you the prices for a whole month and not only specific dates.

  37. Brilliant advice, although people should make sure if they are using multiple airlines ticketed separately that they have good travel insurance. Airlines ticketed separately have no obligation if, say, the first flight is delayed and you miss your second flight. I have also had issues with lost luggage before, when airline one booked it straight through when I was ticketed separately on to airline two: both point the finger at the other and you don’t get anywhere fast! Good insurance is a must and good practice anyway!

    Also, for those who haul around the world with a baby, many of the airlines jack up the price if you search with a lap infant. You can, however, book the flights online using a low fare finder and then call up and have them add the baby at 10-40% (depending on age and airline) of the fare you paid… I saved £250 that way as the algorithms used arbitrarily jack up the base fare for parents…

    • Great tips Sarah! Thanks for sharing. Good point about delays too, I try to give myself at least 2-3 hours for any transfers when booking separate flights.

  38. Southwest Airlines actually is a pretty good budget airline to fly with. It’s actually my favorite airline to fly with, even if I have to pay a little more to fly with them. They dont charge fees for their first two checked bags nor do they charge fees to change flights. They now offer electronic boarding passes you can scan on your smartphone. They offer complimentary snacks (usually peanuts and some sort of crackers or pretzels) and drinks. They also fly to many major airports especially after merging with AirTran Airlines!

    • Hi Josh! I also like Southwest, and agree that not all budget airlines try to gouge you. My point about them is that you must search for Southwest flights directly on the Southwest website. Their flights won’t come up on the major flight search engines.

      • Thank you for the tips Matthew. My husband and I travel nearly twice per year. He is very good at planning each time. We have been travelling for the last 12 years to approximately 24 different places. This time, I am going to surprise him by planning for everything :)
        We plan to travel to Australia and then to Vietnam. Any help from you is greatly appreciated.
        Thank you