Let’s face it: Lack of funds can certainly discourage a trip. Budget is one of the biggest reasons a lot of people don’t travel, which is a huge bummer. How can we make travel accessible for the average American? Well, it takes a tad more effort, but it’s not impossible to find cheap flights.
Since we’re always on the lookout for our next spontaneous adventure, we’ve done a bit of research on cheap flights. Here are eight secrets to scoring cheap flights and traveling to the destinations of your dreams (and actually having money to spend when you get there!).
1. Use points
While we don’t recommend racking up a mountain of credit card debt, we do recommend being savvy about travel spending and using credit cards when applicable. Many major credit cards have points or rewards systems that allow you to cash in accrued points (based on how much you spend) towards travel expenses such as flights and hotels. So, basically, it feels like scoring free or cheap flights and hotel stays!
Pro Tip: If you plan to travel a lot, there are specific credit cards you can sign up for that dish out even better travel-specific rewards.
2. Know the system
Part of winning the game is knowing how to play it. Apparently, airlines price certain routes and tickets based on who they think is buying the ticket. For example, if you’re flying on a popular business route, the airline might have higher last-minute prices because they know companies will buy the flights regardless. But if they think you’re a leisure traveler, flights purchased far in advance might be more expensive. Get more insight here.
3. Stalk the sales
Every now and then, a well-known airline brand will host a flash ticket sale with insanely cheap flights. Perhaps you remember seeing something about a Southwest Airlines sale last month—the airline ran a three-day flash sale offering Southwest tickets to cities all over the U.S. for as cheap as $49 one-way. A good way to stay on top of these sales is to like The Lysst on Facebook—we get tips on these kinds of things. 😉
4. Invest in third-party help
Be cool—we’re giving away a dirty-little-secret here. One of our favorite ways to get cheap flights is enlisting the help of someone else for a small cost (and BIG reward). There are newsletters, apps, and websites out there that charge a minimal membership fee to get news on the latest cheap flights all around the world. One of our favorites, Scott’s Cheap Flights, comes in newsletter form, complete with a list of all the U.S. airports you can use for the flight deals.
Pro Tip: Some cheap flight apps and services have “free” versions!
5. Set up Google Flight Alerts
Prefer not to pay for cheap flight alerts? If you’ve got a little patience and the willingness to buy a flight on a whim, you can set up Google Flight Alerts for your destination. Google Flights will track your destination and email you when there are any significant changes to the flight route you were eyeing. If you were really savvy (which, if you’re reading this, you are), you would use the knowledge gained in method #2 to set up smart alerts.
Related: 8 Secret Ways to Score Cheap Flights
6. Go regional
This is a lesser-known tip, so hold it close! Budget carriers often fly into regional airports not too far outside of many major U.S. cities, and these seat tickets can come at a fraction of the price. The key to finding these cheap flights is to search on individual budget airlines’ own websites (such as allegiantair.com or frontierairlines.com), and see if they fly into a regional airport near your home or destination city. Many times, you can get round-trip deals for under $200.
Pro Tip: Don’t get tricked into fees. Budget airlines often tack on different fees when you’re not noticing—be extra careful before selecting seats and choosing your baggage.
7. Check the (low-fare) calendar
Yep, there’s such a thing. If you can be flexible with your vacation dates, you can search for cheap flights via low-fare calendars on airline websites. Here are a few:
- Alaska Airlines low-fare calendar
- Delta low-fare calendar
- Norwegian Air low-fare calendar
- Southwest Airlines low-fare calendar
8. Be flexible
Being generally flexible and open to booking a flight upon short notice will certainly help you get some cheap flights. That’s what we did for our ski/snowboard trip to Breckenridge, Colorado, over Thanksgiving in 2018. Instead of celebrating the holiday in traditional fashion, we packed up our snow gear and had a beautiful vacation in the mountains. The best part? We didn’t pay in-season prices and still had a blast.
Are you ready to score some cheap flights and be en route to your next adventure? For more affordable travel tips, Instagram-worthy vacation ideas, and exclusive partner deals, join The Lysst’s Tribe for free.