Many people dream of travel, but most are held back by the possibility of a high price tag. What if someone told you that travel wasn’t that expensive, after all? With the rise of transoceanic budget airlines over the years, it’s cheaper than ever to see the world. But with so many different airlines and the complexity of flight pricing, how can you be sure you’re getting the best deals? You can use the powerful information-gathering tools of Google Flights and make it easy to get a cheap flight to your dream destination.
The first step in using Google Flights is, of course, inputting your departure city and your destination. This first step is often enough to find a shockingly cheap flight because Google Flights aggregates all flights and routes from one destination to the next. The cheapest flight for your dates is automatically presented at the top of the list. It’s easy and convenient, but there are many steps you can take to find an even better deal.
Prices change day by day and month by month, and this is different for each destination. However, there are certain general rules when it comes to flight. If you can fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, those are usually the cheapest dates. Flights are also at their priciest during a destination’s high season: the difference between low season and high season can be as much as two or three times the expense!
Little differences in planning, such as taking a longer layover during a connection or leaving on a different day can save you hundreds of dollars. If you plan your vacation and schedule it before getting your tickets, then you’re already bound to a rigid schedule. The most money-savvy travelers will make their plans around these little trends, not the other way around.
The costs of flights around the year vary depending on your location. There are general rules such as traveling during the earlier half of the week and October-March being the cheapest months to fly, but they’re not universal. Many places have major seasonal attractions that drive up flight costs in one part of the year: if that destination isn’t part of your itinerary, you’ll want to avoid the peak season. That, or you can consider landing at a nearby destination and taking a different form of transit for the remaining distance.
When you’re on Google Flights, you can pull up a map to check flights to an entire geographical region. If your destination is a smaller city, an archeological site, a natural attraction or something else that won’t be served directly by an airport, you’ll certainly have multiple different choices for nearby destinations. In many parts of the world, mass transit in the form of trains and buses are remarkably cheap; you can save a lot of money by considering traveling by plane and then by bus.
The ticket price isn’t all there is in your journey to find the best deals. For instance, some budget airlines offer flights across Europe for what is literally pocket change. However, this doesn’t include checked luggage or overhead storage! If you can travel ultra-light, these are amazing deals. But if you need overhead storage, a different airline may offer better prices with overhead storage included. Additionally, different airlines have different prices and policies for checked luggage; a different luggage policy might make a little difference or a big one, but you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with this and other additional costs.
When you buy a ticket through Google Flights, they can combine two or more separate tickets to get you a cheap arrival to your destination. This will entail a layover and a move from one gate to another, and you may need to pick up your luggage too. However, this slightly more complicated option often provides massive savings compared to a direct flight. Just make sure that the layover isn’t too long for your liking or too short to comfortably get to your next flight!
Booking a flight early is always a good plan, but there’s such a thing as too early. When booking cheap, off-season flights, you’ll often see that prices drop at a certain point as the flight approaches. It’ll steadily increase as other travelers take seats and the flight approaches, but two months to six weeks is generally a safe bet.
Changing your destination is one way to get a cheaper flight, but what about changing your departure city? If you live near Portland, you may be able to find a much cheaper flight by heading to Seattle, for instance. Google Flights has a built-in function to input multiple airport codes as your departure site, and will automatically present the cheapest option.
Once you’ve decided on your route and ticket, you can often save a bit more by buying directly from the airlines. However, Google Flights occasionally offers cheaper prices than the airlines themselves. The service has also introduced perks such as price protection, which means that if the price drops for a protected flight you’ve already purchased, you’ll be refunded the difference. A confident, experienced traveler may find the savings from booking outside of Google Flights worth it, but a more casual traveler is served well by booking from Google Flights.