4 tips to catch the cheapest flights

Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes! It's always great to get away and enjoy new scenery, food, and people. Since I love traveling I have made it a priority in my budget.

Finding a flight deal is one of the easiest ways to cut down expenses on a trip. Just last year, I purchased a round trip flight to DC for $100 and helped a friend find two round trip tickets to Atlanta for less than $80 total! Flight Deals are not only available for domestic flights, but they are also available when flying internationally.

Below are 4 tips on finding inexpensive flights:

Search Engines

The most common way to search for a flight deal is through search engines. Up until 2013, Kayak and Priceline were my favorite search engines to use. They are both extremely user-friendly and have been around for years.

Hands down, google flights is now my favorite search engine to find flight deals. Head over to the homepage of google flights and there is a "discover destinations" page which lets you search for the best deals based on your dates anywhere in the world. For my last trip during December, I was extremely open to the destination so I used the "discover destinations" section regularly to search for the best deals. You can also narrow your search by region of the world you desire to travel to like South America or Europe.

In addition, google flights will let you know the "best flight". This takes in consideration things like cost, layover time, the length of flight, and departure/arrivals times. Google Flights also automatically lets you know if there is a lower flight available if you fly from a nearby airport and within 3 days. For more detailed information regarding Google Flights, check out this post The #1 Flight Search Engine.

Price Alerts

The search engines I mentioned previously (Priceline, Kayak, Google Flights) and many others will allow you to set a price alert. This is ideal when your destination and travel dates are fixed. After providing your travel dates and email address, you will receive regular emails letting you know the cheapest price for your flight as well as if the flight has gone up or down in price.

Travel alerts are convenient when you have a trip planned far in advance so you can be updated the best time to purchase. I tend to set price alerts when I need to be in a location a certain date due to a wedding or other special event.

Flight Deal Websites

The ultimate way to find a flight deal is by following various niche websites dedicated to posting deals. Most of these websites are not directly affiliated with any airline in particular. Checking these websites very regularly is one option to catch deals or you can follow the websites on social media. Personally, I follow all of the websites on twitter. Once I see a twitter post regarding a flight deal that I am interested in, I follow the link for more details regarding the deal.

Below are a few of my favorite sites which post deals to their twitter accounts:

@TheFlightDeal
@FareDealAlert
@Airfarewatchdog
@Hopper

Flexibility

Although listed toward the end of the list, flexibility is probably the most important item on the list. An inexpensive flight may not be the "perfect flight".

  • Are your dates flexible where you can leave a day earlier or go a different weekend? Are you available to leave at any time of the day?
  • Are you willing to have an overnight layover in a random city?
  • Are you open to leaving from a nearby airport?
  • Are you willing to take a red-eye flight?
  • Are you able to purchase the flight on the same day you see the flight deal?

Ultimately, only you can answer those questions. I have seen plenty of inexpensive flights but I personally haven't found a deal where I am willing to have an overnight layover yet. I have flown out of nearby airports for a great deal but I try to include gas and parking to that airport when thinking of the total flight cost.

Also, the best flight deals usually don't last long. One of the worst feelings I have experienced was finding a round trip flight to Panama City, Panama for $200 at 7am; however, when I went to purchase the flight that same day at 5pm the flight was no longer available and the next flight price was hundreds of dollars more! Flight deals don't last forever! It is important to buy fast!

Bonus Tip

When getting a flight deal on certain discount airlines, there may be additional costs associated with that flight above the listed price paid at checkout. Those additional costs include but are not limited to carry-on baggage, checked baggage and seat fees. Prior to purchasing a flight with an airline you have never flown before, be sure to verify those additional fees. Additional costs are typically disclosed on the website of that specific airline. In many cases the additional fees can not only be paid in advance but also there may be a discount for paying them in advance.

Ultimately when determining the overall best deal for me, I factor in the full picture including flight times, hidden costs, and personal airline preference. Check out the basic example below for clarity:

Flight A: $200 round trip flight + $0 checked/carry-on baggage or seat fees. Total cost $200.

Flight B: $140 round trip flight + $30 carry-on baggage fees each way* + $6 seat fee each way*. Total cost $212.

*Cost breakdown for Flight B includes $30 carry-on baggage fee for 1 carry-on bag and $6 seat fee. Each fee is encountered on departure and return flight.

Prior to looking at the broader picture including the additional costs, flight price alone appears to make Flight B the cheaper round trip flight. Keep this in mind when determining the overall best flight for your situation.

The post 4 Tips to Catch a Flight Deal appeared first on Financially Fit and Fab.

RELATED: Save cash with these tips!

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8 summer travel tips to save you money
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8 summer travel tips to save you money

"You're probably thinking that doing an all-inclusive vacay (that's a vacation that includes both your room and food and drink) is just way too expensive, but you would be wrong in almost every case. While it's true that some of the world's great and expensive resorts have an extensive and expensive AI policy, there are many that are very nice and very affordable. All you need is to consider a number of options that can save you money every time."

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"Like the old expression "it's 5 o'clock somewhere", that phrase also applies to peak and off-peak travel as it's always off-peak season somewhere! Traveling off-peak doesn't mean you try and go skiing in in Colorado in July either! But, traveling and saving money going OP is a real money saver."

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"The first question to ask yourself is this: "Do I really need a car on my vacation?" That answer will depend on where you are traveling, when you are traveling, and what you want to do when you get there.

If you are getting away just to relax and sit in the sun, you may not need a car at all. See if your hotel offers free transportation to and from the airport and/or if there are such services publicly available at a low cost."

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"You can get some incredible upgrades if you just ask. One way to do it is when you are flying, ask about an upgrade at the gate when you are celebrating something like an anniversary or birthday trip. Airlines are willing to upgrade you if they have the room in first class as a courtesy, but only if you ask. It's best to do it when you are standing right in front of them at the counter and not on a phone or via an internet message. That's when they will respond positively most often."

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"Checking the net is a huge way to save money on your summer—or any—vacation. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, and Kayak will do everything from finding you the best deals on air, hotel, and cars to supplying specific venue information and free reservations. You probably already know that these places work well, but they are just a few of the many available, and more are coming all the time. When you have enough lead time for your travel, spend a few hours scanning the best deals and reading real customer reviews online before you reserve. It gives you a much better idea of what you can expect."

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"One of the most annoying things that can happen to you is to find out that you will have to pay extra on you baggage when you are checking in at the airport. How are you going to avoid that? Here are a few tips that have worked for me: Pack lighter than you think you may need... Weigh you bags at home... Try "wearing" your luggage like a backpack... Leave room for souvenirs."

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"When you can, try scheduling your flights, hotel stays, and car rentals on the less travelled days of the week. That's generally Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But the best way to take advantage of your flexibility is to select the flexible dates option on your travel site so you can find the least expensive choices. Or try a site like Fareness which is based on date flexibility."

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"If you are fortunate enough to have choices in your airport departure and arrival sites, check them out online. Because there are usually some differences in those airfares, check out your options. Here in New Jersey, we can fly from Newark, Trenton, or Atlantic City, or from NYC at LaGuardia or JFK. There are even the choices of Allentown PA and Westchester NY that are also close enough to make the air savings worth it. Sometimes it's worth a few hours' drive to get a significantly better airfare."

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