Do you dream of traveling the world? Do you feel like traveling is too expensive to realistically do? I thought so too, until my wife Amanda showed me how to do it. This article is about how to use the awesome travel-hacking tool: Skyscanner, and how to find the cheapest flights around the world on a budget.
Hi everyone, this is Bill. After getting home from New York last week, I told Amanda that she should write a post about how she finds cheap flights. It’s like living with a travel agent when we go somewhere as she plans all of our trips on a budget. Today she’s going to tell you about her favorite flight-booking app that she uses to find the best deals on flights. It’s called: Skyscanner. Take it away Amanda…
First off, Skyscanner is my favorite free tool to help me book cheap flights at the lowest possible cost. I have used Skyscanner in the past to book domestic and international locations, and it’s worked awesome in every situation. In fact, last year, I traveled to Europe where some girlfriends and I visited 3 countries, and 5 different cities over a 12 day-trip. I used Skyscanner exclusively on this trip to book three different flights to Iceland, Paris, and Naples. I recommend Skyscanner as my favorite cheap-flight booking app because it’s super easy to use. Here’s a picture of me in Paris last year:
Seeing Europe for the first time was awesome, but guess what the best part was? The entire trip, which included: flights, hotels, food, and entertainment only cost me $1700 for 12 days of international travel seeing an entire different continent! And honestly, I probably could have done it for even cheaper but I splurged a few times along the way, like when we rode horses across Iceland:
The deals for flights and hotels are amazing when you have the right tools to help you coordinate your adventure. The first step I recommend to start learning what’s possible, is by learning how to use Skyscanner. Skyscanner not only offers you ways to find cheap flights, but it can help you discover the places you may want to go.
How to use SkyScanner to Find the Best Flights:
The first thing you’ll want to do is open up this link: Skyscanner and download the app on your phone, and favorite it on your browser toolbar. This simple tool will help you start exploring the places you want to travel to.
How to Find Cheap Flights using Skyscanner Step #1: Choosing Dates.
Most people overpay for flights because they use the wrong process to choosing flights. The mistake most people make when they book flights, is that they have a set group of dates that they’re set on traveling on, and then they pick from the limited amount of flights that fit those dates. That is the logical way to choose the right flights, but it is the WRONG way to choose flights if you want to travel cheaply!
This is the path you should be taking to find the CHEAPEST FLIGHTS:
The process you should be using to maximize your travel budget, is to choose your flight first, before you choose the dates. Yep, that’s right! I know it’s counter-intuitive to choose the flight first, but this is how you can save hundreds, or thousands, of dollars per flight.
For all trips where you have some wiggle-room around your travel dates, like a vacation, I like to pick my destination first before I pick my dates. Then once you select the destination you want to go to, Skyscanner will help you learn when the CHEAPEST time to fly there is. Then, when you know when the cheapest flights are available, you can start planning your trip and maximizing the money you you’ll spend on your trip. Here’s how I do this:
As I’ve shown in the above image, first put in the destination you want to travel to. Second, click on the departing date, (select the whole month option from the pop up), and then select cheapest month. Click on “Search flights” and then you’ll see the below chart showing you when you can go for the best value!
I’ve used Dublin, Ireland for the example above. The chart above shows me that it’s cheapest to fly to Dublin in October. As for my personal work schedule, October is a good time to fly for me to escape work for a week here and there. All I have to do is choose a depart date the works for me, and I’d click on” Show flights” and go to the next page to see the full departure, arrival, and pricing details.
I WILL WARN YOU: The flights on Skyscanner change all the time. I often see amazing deals that disappear in under 24 hours. So if you find a location you really want to travel to, at an amazing deal, it’s best to book it before someone else does. Also, the deal shown at the bottom near show flights is not guaranteed, but most of the time it is.
Here are the top 2 results to travel to Dublin after I selected my dates. There are way more flight options to choose from, but I chose these two to display in this example image. With Skyscanner you can choose how to sort your flight options on the top right of this image. I chose “best.” “Best” is in reference to price and speed of travel. You can sort it by “cheapest” as sometimes “cheapest” is not in the top when it comes to best. In this example I selected the $511.00 flight.
The image above shows the results of the search, and where you can book your flight at the best deal. It looks like they’re recommending Tripsta for the best deal in this example, with reviews below the name of the booking site. You should use the reviews to help you decide who to book your flights through. The better the ratings, the better the experience usually. These are all sites similar to Kayak and Priceline. Once you have selected the site you want to book your flight through, it will reroute you to the booking site you chose to purchase your tickets. Once your tickets are booked, now you just have to pack your bags and go! It is really easy!
How to Find Cheap Flights using Skyscanner Step #2: Be Flexible with your location.
Another tip I have to find the cheapest flights is to be flexible picking your specific destination. If you are looking to travel around a particular stretch of time, let’s say your anniversary, birthday, or holiday, be open to unique locations to best maximize the money in your budget. Here’s how to do this:
Let’s say I really need to get away from Minnesota over Memorial weekend.
I pull up skyscanner.com and I enter the airport I am flying out of. For my destination, I type in “Everywhere.” I then click on “depart date,” select whole month, and then choose the month I am traveling. I click, “Search flights” and GO!
The trick here is to choose the month you are traveling, instead of specific dates, because than you can easily locate the best time to fly around the dates you wish to travel.
Once you have done this, Skyscanner will provide you a list ranging of the cheapest flights, to the most expensive flights. Each location should have multiple destinations to fly to. The image above shows the top results in May, flying from MSP to Everywhere. For this example, I decided to stay in the United States, and I clicked on the drop down arrow.
The image shows the cheapest destinations to fly for the United States from MSP airport. I decided to choose Boston as I’ve never been there, but always wanted to go…
This is how it will first appear when you come to the page. You first have to select a departing date before it will show you the prices for the return flights. In this example, I like the price of May 24th, and here is what it will look like once you have selected that depart date.
This screen will show you the best prices for return flights. Once I have chosen a price I am happy with, I click “Show Flights,” and go to the next screen.
It looks like the cheapest flight Skyscanner found was going to Boston for $90. I decided to sort these results out by cheapest first using the drop down arrow. Once you have selected the flight you like, you will choose your booking site, and it will lead you to their site to purchase tickets like we did in the previous example.
How to Find Cheap Flights using SkyScanner Step #3: Choosing when to Book.
I have found that the best deals for trips you already have planned are found roughly three months out before the departure date. The best deals for international flights are found 6 months prior to the date you wish to travel. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but that’s called “getting lucky.” So these are the sweet spots where I really start looking for the cheapest flights to the destinations I want to travel to.
How to Find Cheap Flights using Skyscanner Step #4: Best Way to Get to your Preferred Destination.
Let’s say you have a dream trip in mind, but you can’t get cheap enough flights that will fit your budget. There is another way to travel hack yourself to your dream location at a reasonable price.
For example, on my trip to Europe last year, my girlfriends and I flew into Paris for $450, and then we were able to take another plane to Naples, Italy for $30, and then take another train to Rome for less than $15 per person. We then flew back to Paris from Rome for $23 where our flight back to the United States was departing.
I’m using this example to show that if you have the time to board multiple flights, you can use Sky Scanner to help you fly into a cheaper location, and then find another cheaper local flight to get you the areas you dream of traveling that may have been out of your budget if you flew to them directly.
I am going to show you how to do this using my trip to Dublin, Ireland as an example if I was open to turning it into a multiple destination trip.
On Skyscanner, I put in “From Dublin” to “Everywhere.” And I chose the whole month of “October” for a depart date, because I already knew that month was the cheapest to fly to Dublin. Here are the results:
I’ve never been to the United Kingdom before, so I decided that I am going to choose the United Kingdom as a secondary destination in this example:
Here are the top results to travel to the United Kingdom from Dublin. I then decide I would like to go see the Queen, so I follow the same process to go to London:
Since the dates I picked for Dublin are the 7th to the 17th, I decide to choose 11th through the 14th to go to London.
Now, I could choose a one way ticket from Dublin to London like I did in Europe, and find another cool place to go after London, but I decide to just do a round trip to make it easy. (It can get tricky because you could find a cheap flight from London to Paris, but the flight from Paris to Dublin could get expensive.)
As you can see from this article, with a little effort and creative thinking, it really isn’t that hard to find killer deals on flights to awesome locations that you may have never thought were possible when you first glanced at your travel budget. Personally, I have been able to see many different parts of the world, and my husband and I have never earned gigantic salary. Rather than needing to be rich to travel, we chose to be smart. 🙂
I hope this information has been helpful and inspiring. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to see a big chunk of Europe for well under $2000, but I did it last year using these tips above. We hope to hear stories of you exploring the world, and experiencing the things that truly matter to you while accomplishing the dreams in your life.
So what did we miss? What are some of your travel hacks you can share with other people reading this post and looking for affordable ways to travel?
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