Tried and true methods for finding the best airfare to the destination you want to go to plus a service that texts you alerts to incredible airfare deals.
Sometimes it feels like we spend more time searching for the perfect airfare deal than we do on our actual vacation. You don't necessarily need to search around on various websites to find the best fares. Try these methods for finding the best deals to the places you want to go.
My number one destination for flight searches is none other than Google itself! A few years ago they bought one of the largest airfare shopping tools and that now powers Google Flights. It also powers their super serious airfare search tool called ITA Matrix, but I recommend you stick to Google Flights unless you were a travel agent in a previous life.
The best way to use Google Flights is to tap into their calendar functionality. First, enter your origin and destination, then click the date. You'll see a calendar pop up with a bunch of prices on it. The days in green are the absolute cheapest to fly. Once you select an outgoing date, return dates will light up in green. Just choose two green dates to ensure you are getting the lowest possible fare between those two cities.
To take it to the next level, use the filters in Google Flights to customize your search BEFORE you click the calendar. For instance, let's say you only want direct flights on Star Alliance airlines. Choose these filters before you look at the calendar. This way, the green prices reflect the type of ticket you actually want to book. If you just want the cheapest possible ticket and don't care about the airline, times or number of connections, then you can leave these filters alone.
Finally, if you're not ready to book just yet, toggle the option to Track Price. Google will let you know when the airfare is about to go up, goes up or goes down. It's a fantastic tool and you'll be alerted via email, notifications or through your Google Feed.
For a different take on flight information, check out an app called Hopper. This is a super simple app that gives you a similar calendar function. Here, days are color coded - red being the most expensive days to fly. This way you can get a good idea of the best time to take your trip based on fares.
Once you pick some dates, Hopper will tell you the current fare and tell you if you should book now or wait. They'll also share some pricing predictions based on historic fares. You can see exactly how much your flight might go up or down and when.
Again, if you're not ready to book, Hopper will watch your fare and send you an alert when it's time to buy.
Don't forget to check the fees! Airlines are charging for everything these days. Kayak has a great up-to-date chart of airline fees. See it here.
I'm trying out a new service called Deal Ray. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to figure out when fares are crazy good between two cities. It will text you alerts when it finds something so you can act before the fare is gone.
The service costs $10 a month but based on some of the deals I've seen it uncover you can easily save hundreds of dollars on a flight.
You do need a credit card to sign up but you will get 2 free months to try it using my referral link. Just remember to cancel before your two months are up if you don't want to get charged.