How to Score Cheap Flights?

Having travelled around the world for the past five years, I get a lot of curious questions from curious people I meet along the way. Most of those questions are the same: "how do you weasel your way out of the rat race?" (hence why I started this blog); "how do you travel as a vegan?" etc. But no question is asked more often to me than "how do you score cheap flights?" Is it just a case of using the right flight comparison website (like) JustFly, well yeah, pretty much BUT seeing as you all keep asking, let me lay it out for you step by step, let me teach you how to find cheap flights:

Step 1: Flight Comparison Websites

Flight comparison websites take away almost all the hassle of booking flights for you: simply input your dates, your destination and watch them quickly search all the airline websites to find you the right deal. Pretty simple right? Pretty much. But my biggest piece of advice for you when it comes to using flight comparison websites is to make sure that you are using the correct one. Not all comparison websites are created equally. Not all of them check all of their airline websites, not all of them find you the best deals. Luckily, it's pretty easy to spot the good ones e.g. JustFly which offers up to 80% off by comparing the best deals on over 440+ airlines. You cannot say fairer than that! Top tip with using flight comparison websites: use an incognito window.

Step 2: It Doesn't Matter Who You Fly With

When you're using your flight comparison website, you might be recommended an airline that you've never heard of. Does it matter? I don't think so. Sure, some airlines are better than others, but at the end of the day, you're only with them for (at most) a day of your life - does it really matter? I've flown with 5 star airline Qatar airline and don't get me wrong, it was awesome - delicious food, good selection of movies, comfy seats. I've also flown with a cheap Canadian airline and an even cheaper Filipino airline. Do they include movies? No. Do they include food? No. Can you bring your own movies and food (aka bring a laptop/tablet/phone with netflix/films plus a packed lunch or four). Yes. Problem solved. My point is, unless you're flying first class, your 11 hour flight is always going to be uncomfortable and boring, you might as well save the £200 or so that you would spend buying a flight with an airline you know, opt for the cheaper unheard of option, and spend the cash when you reach your destination on a massage or an actual experience.

Step 3: Does It Even Matter Where You Go?

On the search for cheap flights, you have to ask yourself - does it even matter where you go? Sure if you're headed to a wedding or a dream destination it does, but for most other things it doesn't: good food, interesting cultures, kind people, they can be found in every single country on the planet (trust me). So if your main priority is to find a cheap flight, consider shaking up your destination. For example, I was in Italy and I wanted to fly to Croatia (hello Game of Thrones). I looked all over and could not find cheap flights, reasonable flights, or even mid-range flights, nothing! In the end, I decided to prioritise my wallet over my GOT addiction and I flew to Hungary instead (for £19).

Even though I knew nothing about Hungary it actually turned out to be one of my favourite countries and one where I would eventually settle down in! Thank you cheap flights!

Step 4: Hop

Back to my 'does it matter where you go' question, if it really really does, consider hopping: If you can't find a cheap flight from your A destination to your B destination, use destination C in the middle and hop on over: More often than not you'll find that a cheap flight from A to C plus a cheap flight from C to B is cheaper than that expensive flight straight from A to B. As an added bonus, if time and visas allow it, you might find yourself having a fun and meaningful experience in destination C.

For example(S): I flew from Australia to China, spent 19 wondrous hours there, before flying on to my intended destination of the UK. All the flights I found from Australia to the UK were ridiculously expensive, but Australia to China to the UK was half the price. Another time I flew from Portugal to Italy and then from Italy to Greece, which was a fraction of the price of Portugal straight to Greece. And I got to hang out in Italy! Always a good idea. Yet another time I was in Finland and I needed to get to Germany. The direct flight was expensive, of course, so I went Finland to Estonia, and flew Estonia to Germany for a third of the price. Okay, to get from Finland to Estonia I didn't fly (I took a ferry) but it's still an acceptable hop and brings me onto step 5:

Step 5: You Don't Always Have to Fly

Just in my example above, you might find that the cheapest flight is one that's goes somewhere just outside of your end destination. In this case I recommend public transport to get you the rest of the way there. For example, I wanted to fly Hungary to the West Coast of Ireland, and then from there to Amsterdam. In the end I ended up taking public transport from Hungary to Poland (and having a lovely day and overnight stay there), flying to the West Coast, spending a week there, taking a bus to Dublin, and flying from Dublin to Amsterdam. This trip was not only good for my soul, it was also a fraction of the price of the Hungary to Ireland to Amsterdam trip.

Step 6: Be Flexible with Dates

Just as I recommend that you be as flexible as possible with your destinations, I also recommend that you be as flexible as possible with your dates. Of course this might not be possible for you depending on where you are going and why. But if it is, you will find that flights are cheaper on certain days or even certain times of the year.

Wrap Up: How to Score Cheap Flights

In conclusion, finding cheap flights is very easy: use a good flight comparison website, be as flexible as possible with your destination and dates, consider hopping and / or using public transport. On a related note, I wrote a piece recently about flying and the environment - is it okay to fly and if it is, how to do it in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Thanks for reading! Also, here is a video about how to get cheap transport in general -- enjoy! :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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