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How to Find Cheap Flights

I have a passion for finding cheap flights. I've flown on well over 100 flights all over the world. I get a little thrill every time I find a deal. Once I was sitting in a flat in London, feeling a bit antsy, so I decided to go to SkyScanner.com to see if I could find any deals. I found a flight to Copenhagen for $7 leaving the next morning. The flight was booked in a matter of minutes! I've even flown transatlantic for less than $100.

I'm going to teach you my tricks of the trade...


Use SkyScanner or Google Flights

My favorite airline search engine is SkyScanner. It allows me to search on a number of different elements with just one click. If you're not a planner, SkyScanner has a great feature, which allows you to search "Everywhere." For example, one day I was sitting in a hostel in London, a bit bored and ready for a change of scenery. I went on SkyScanner, put in my location as London, and my destination as "Everywhere." I found a flight, leaving the next day, for less than $7. I told my friends I was leaving and packed my bags!

You can also search for flights based on a weekly and monthly basis. Read the section below to find out more!

Have a Flexible Schedule

If you have rigid dates you need to fly, like for example, you need to travel for a conference or are visiting family over the holidays. Book early! When you have set dates, it's much more difficult to find airline deals. If you can look at flight prices over an entire month, you're much more likely to find a good deal. 

For example, I'm using my favorite tool - Skyscanner.com - to look at flights from the US to Venice. I found a flight for less than $200! All because I'm looking at dates for the entire month instead of over a specific week.

Go During Off Season

Flights and lodging are always cheaper when you aren't competing with other tourists. You may not be visiting during peak weather, but traveling during shoulder seasons can save you a lot of money. For example, I'm not a person that can sit on the beach very well. My pasty, white skin always gets sunburnt, I somehow end up getting sand EVERYWHERE, and I have a hard time sitting in one spot for long. That doesn't mean that I don't want to see the ocean or visit iconic cities. I just plan to visit them when all the other tourists aren't there.

I save a ton of money on lodging. Hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs are much cheaper. Flights are also a steal. Plus you avoid having to deal with the massive amounts of tourists with fanny packs and selfie sticks.

Look for Midweek Flights

Of course, this isn't always the case, but generally I tend to find really cheap flights departing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. My personal theory is that business travelers typically fly on Mondays and Thursdays. Then the vacationers travel on the weekends. This leaves a midweek slump with a lower demand for flights. You may have to take more vacation time, or rearrange your schedule, but flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays can save you big time. 

5 Sisters Mountains in Isle of Skye

Pick Flights that Leave at Odd Times

You can find crazy cheap flights that depart really early in the morning or late at night. These times are less convenient for other travelers, which means they aren't as expensive. Make sure you can actually get the airport via public transit or shuttles at these odd ball times. If you have a 5am flight, that you still need to factor in the time it takes to get to the airport and have plenty of time to get to your gate.

Statistically - Flight prices are lowest on Tuesdays.

Choose Alternative Airports

In major cities, there is typically a main, international airport and an airport that is just outside the city. The take a bit more time but can save you money. The alternative airports are less convenient for travelers so the prices for flying into them are much cheaper. Calculate your total cost including transportation to the airport. Once, I found a flight for $7 leaving from a less convenient airport, but it cost me more to get to that airport, because it was so far away. 

Copenhagen

Search in Incognito

Have you ever had your eye on a flight, but every time you look at it the price increases? Always make sure to clear you cookies or browse in an incognito tab. Websites will save your information and hike up the price next time you visit. 

Note: By using SkyScanner you avoid these issues and can purchase in the internet browser of your choice!

Find Free Layovers

Many times you can find really cheap flight deals with an overnight layover in a connecting city. This is a great way to tick another country off your list. Iceland is a great example of free layovers. I once found a flight from the US to London with a free stopover in Reykjavik for $99! If you're open to other opportunities you can also save money!

Fly with Only a Carry-On

I only fly with a carry-on bag. Airlines will gouge you for checking a bag. I'd rather pack the bare minimum than pay an arm and a leg to put my luggage under the aircraft. A carry-on has a ton of benefits including the following:

  • You save tons of money on airline baggage fees, because you don’t have to check a bag.
  • When you carry heavy luggage around it causes sore muscles, which is no fun on vacation.
  • It’s easier to climb the six flights of stairs to your Airbnb in Italy with a carry on bag. Of course, they don’t have an elevator!
  • plane
    You can keep an eye on your stuff better, which makes it more difficult for someone to rob you.
  • plane
    It’s less stressful to get around. You don’t have to worry about dragging a giant suitcase across cobblestone streets, or fitting into a packed bus with your humongous backpack.

Make sure to read about your airlines size limits for carry-on bags. OR look below at our easy to use Carry-On Guide by Airline chart. We have over 150 airlines' sizes so you'll know if your bag makes the cut, BEFORE you get to the airport.

Airport 101

Before You Go To the Airport

Always check-in online if possible. Then you've got your ticket on your phone. If you're flying internationally, you may need to have a paper ticket. Ask the check in desk to verify.

If you're a US citizen, I recommend getting TSA Precheck. You can signup here. This allows you to go through an expedited security line, you don't have to take off your shoes, or liquids, and the line is much shorter. 

You can also apply for Global Entry. This allows you to go through a shorter line at border control. It's very helpful when you're trying to catch another flight and don't have a lot of time to waste! It also gives you another form of ID.

Make sure to read this article, which outlines what you can and cannot read on a plane - What Can I Bring On a Plane?


At the Airport

I typically try to fly with a carry-on bag, because this allows me to skip the long luggage lines and I don't have to wait for the carousel at my arrival. If I've done all these things, then I've cut out 3 lines (check-in, baggage drop, and baggage arrival), my luggage is always with me, and I don't have to pay baggage fees. This saves you time and money!

When you get to the airport, you're going to look around and see stressed and sweaty people. These are the thoughts that are running through their mind:

  • Am I going to make my flight in time?
  • Could this line be any longer?
  • Did I forget any liquids in my suitcase?
  • plane
    How am I still in the line for security!?!

You won't be asking yourself these questions, because you're prepared and rocking your way from gate to gate.

At the Security Check

Make sure to have your form of identification and plane ticket in an easy place to find. Don't stuff it in your purse, so it's hard to find again. Don't shove it in your back pocket, where it could fall out. Put it back in it's spot so you're ready to go when arrive.

Pack sure you've got your liquids in a quart-sized and they are easy to pull out of your bag. You'll have to take off your shoes, your belt, wallet, watch, anything that is metal and would set the alarm off. Jewelry is usually fine. 

As you're queuing in line for security, go to the line on the left, if there is an option. People have a predisposition to head towards their dominate hand. With less people being left-handed, the left line is statistically shorter.


Make sure to PUSH your suitcase on the conveyor belt. People will drop their luggage on the belt and walk away, but if your luggage isn't on the belt it holds up the line. Stay with your suitcase until it's going through the machine. If a TSA person is guiding the bags, you can go straight through the scanner without watching your bag. Wait until a TSA employee gestures you to walk into the scanner.

If you're going through a metal detector, walk through without stopping. I wouldn't recommend doing the hula though.

If you're going into a full body scanner, put your feet on the shoe outlines and hold your hands above your head. Stay in that position until the TSA employee tells you that you are done. Once you exit the scanner it takes a moment for the results to show up on the screen. When they do, a red light means that they need to investigate something. If it's green, you're good to go and grab your bag. 

Chilling At the Gates

Awesome, the hardest part is over! You made it through security and you've got time to kill. I'll do a quick walk and make sure I know where my gate is. Then I know how long it will take to get back there, if I wander far.

I'll usually do lots of walking in airports. It's a good way to get a little bit of exercise and people watch. I'll also scope out the outlets and the Wi-Fi. This is also a great time for me to grab any last minute souvenirs. Since I only travel with a backpack, my souvenir everywhere I go is a magnet. They are small, inexpensive, and easy to pack. 

Make sure to head back to your gate at boarding time. If you have a carry on, you'll want to try to get on the plane sooner. That means you will have less difficulty finding a spot for your luggage in the overhead space.

If you checked your luggage, I wait until the last possible minute to get on the plane. The last thing I want to do is spend more time on the plane than necessary. 

Fun Fact: I can always spot a Spaniard a mile away when I'm at an airport. Typically they line up for the flight insanely early. Make sure to remember to queue early when you're flying to or from Spain.

Sleeping in Airports

It can't be avoided. Sometimes the best thing to do is embrace it and see what happens. When you're flight is delayed or you have to wait for you connecting flight, you're only option is to wait it out. What do you do when all the restaurants, bars, and shops are closed? It's prime sleeping time, baby!

Most international airports will have lounges or sleeping pods that you can pay to sleep in. This may sound like a foreign theory, but it's a lifesaver when you need to be alert and awake the next day.

If these aren't available to you, and you're on a budget, find a quiet corner near an outlet, put your sleeping mask on and set an alarm. The last think you want is to miss your flight all because you were catching some zzz's. 

where to go in slovenia

My Favorite Airports Around the World

Not all airports are created equally, some are far superior to others. If you're trying to decide which flight to take, or where to have a layover, use this list as a consideration. Some of the things I look for in an airport are free wifi, plenty of charging stations, lots of bathrooms (Note: Never go to the first one you see after you get off the plane. Keep walking, there will be another one with a shorter line), a variety of restaurants (healthy choices are a plus!), and lounges or sleeping pods.

  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) - This is the airport of all airports. Everything you could possibly want is here. There are gardens, sleeping pods, free wifi, spas, and shopping! The Emirates are the big players in hospitality.
  • Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) - Get lost inside this beautifully designed airport. It includes a movie theater and a slide!
  • Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) - Enjoy maximum efficiency and super clean spaces in this centrally located Japanese airport. 
  • plane
     Munich Airport (MUN) - I've had to spend the night in this airport before and it's not half bad. It's easy to wander between terminals, enjoy the outdoor space and have a German beer. If you're traveling during Oktoberfest, prepare for lots of dirndls and lederhosens!
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    London Heathrow (LHR) - This main hub allows you to get a taste of the UK, even if you're passing through. They are in the midst of a major renovation, but we're already liking what we're seeing!

How to Sleep on a Plane

I have mastered a skill that can change your life as a traveler - falling asleep on an airplane. I have trained my body to fall asleep on a plane before we leave the tarmac. This is no easy feat and is quite difficult to accomplish, but the efforts are worth the rewards. Catching some sleep while you're on the plane will greatly reduce jet lag. If you can at least squeeze in a nap, you're already one step ahead. If there's a will there's a way!

As soon as I sit down in my seat, I begin to prepare to fall asleep. I've got the following in my lap - headphones/earplugs, eye mask, an inflatable neck pillow, sleeping pills or melatonin (if necessary), and a blanket or scarf. Most importantly, don't look at your phone or see what movies are playing on the inflight entertainment. Light from technology can screw up your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to sleep. Avoid the tech space and find some zen.

An eye mask is also necessary, because without it you'll be woken up every time the stewardesses turn on the light for the beverage cart. It may be tempting to collect a free meal, but remember - it's plane food. You've had better meals, I promise. I pack an inflatable neck pillow with me, because they are easy to deflate and pack in small spaces. Plus, you can adjust the firmness of the pillow by how full you fill it. 

I usually have a large scarf with me when I travel. Not only is it great to cover yourself when you enter religious places, but can serve as a blanket when you need to snooze. 

Other Ways to Spend Your Time on a Plane

Sometimes it's nearly impossible to fall asleep on a plane. You've got a snorer on one side and another that keeps on having to get up to use the toilet. In this case, it's time to come to terms with your situation. You might as well enjoy it and use it to the best of your abilities.

  • Work - I usually have a few things saved offline, or will save my e-mails as drafts and send them when I land.
  • Sleep - I have this amazing ability where I can fall asleep before the plane takes off. I recommend an inflatable neck pillow, because they are easy to pack. If you're flying international, this is a great way to fight jet lag.
  • Talk to your neighbor - Not everyone is social, but I've meet some really cool people on a plane. Business contacts, clients, friends, famous people...you never know who you'll sit next to.  I met Citizen Cope at the airport in Augusta, Georgia and the entire Chicago soccer team.
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    Read a book - This is a great time to disconnect from technology
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    Watch a downloaded movie - Sex scenes in movies are always awkward when you're flying. I made the mistake of watching Wolf of Wall Street on a flight once. Awkward!
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    Knit - You can bring knitting needles on a plane!

What to Do if Your Flight is Delayed/Cancelled

This is everyone's worst nightmare. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, it's time to roll with the punches. Of course, this may not be easy if you're a Type A personality like me. The best thing to do is figure out your options. I always feel relieved by having travel insurance with World Nomads. This not only insures that I'll get reimbursed for a delay in my travel, but I don't have to worry about the damage done on my credit card.

When you're working with airline employees, the most important thing is to kill them with kindness. You may be upset about your screwed up travel plans, but it's not the agents fault. By recognizing, that you understand the situation and being polite you'll get much further. 

Make sure to not get upset, even if you're exhausted, stressed out and ready to put on your pjs. Choose what you can take control of in the situation and stop worrying about the rest. The plane will arrive when it arrives. Worrying about it won't make it show up sooner. 

150+ Airlines' Carry On Restrictions

I've flown on hundreds of flights and I know my way around around an airport. The problem I've discovered is each airline has different carry-on baggage regulations. Without knowing the difference in sizes and rules, you can easily become bamboozled by baggage fees. Today, I am going to teach you how to avoid being turned into a schmuck by airlines! This chart allows you search for your airline (we have over 150+ airlines) and easily see what carry-on dimensions you'll be restricted to, plus our recommendation that fits the size. Welcome to easy traveling!

Before I was the experienced traveler that I am today, I made this noob mistake. I was flying RyanAir and figured I would have no problem bringing my American sized carry-on with me. WRONG! Carry-on sizes differ by the airline and even from country to country! I ended up having to pay over $100 dollars in fees, because RyanAir charged me by weight to check it. I swore to myself that this would be the last time I ever flew without double checking the carry-on bag rules first.

Some of you may be thinking, "This isn't fair! Airline companies are trying to trick us and steal our money." When budget airlines offer cheap flights, they make their money through fees and upgrades. You may have found an incredibly cheap flight on SkyScanner, but you also need to calculate any extra fees you may incur.

Find Out if Your Luggage Meets Requirements

I created this table with over 150+ airlines and their respective carry-on restrictions in hopes of taking the guess work out of travel. This will prevent you from paying an arm and a leg in fees and you'll be full prepared to jet set on your next adventure

1. Choose Metric or Imperial 

For Americans like me, you may prefer to use Imperial dimensions when checking your carry on baggage restrictions. Make sure to select the Imperial tab before you search for your airline and you're good to go.

If you're everyone else in the world and want to use Metric, just select the Metric tab!

2. Search for Your Airline

In the Search bar, type in your airline name. We have over 150 airlines listed. Yours is here, look no further!

3. Check the Airline's Regulations

We've also included a link to your airline's most recent carry-on baggage regulations, so you can double check the dimensions and restrictions!

  • ​Metric
  • Imperial

Airline

Airline

Dimensions
(H x W x D) 

(inch)

Weight

(lbs)

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

22 x 17.7 x 9.8

17.6

21.6 x 15.7 x 9.4

22

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

22

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

50.7

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

20

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

26

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

22

19.6 x 15.7 x 9.8

50.7

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8

17.6

18 x 14 x 8

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

46 linear inch

17

23.6 x 15.7 x 11.8

15.4

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

22

22 x 17.8 x 9.8

50.7

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

26.5

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

22

21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9

11

22 x 17.8 x 9.8

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

13.2

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

26.5

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

17.6

22 x 17.5 x 9.5

17.6

22 x 17.7 x 9.8

21.6 x 15.7 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

22 x 18 x 10

17.6

21.5 x 13.7 x 7.8

22

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

13.2

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

11

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

26.4

21.5 x 17.7 x 9.8

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

11

22 x 17.7 x 9.8

22

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

26.4

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.7 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.7 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

22 x 15.7 x 10

22

21.5 x 15.7 x 7.8

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.9 x 9

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

17.6

21.2 x 17.7 x 9.8

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

22

22 x 16 x 9

17.6

22 x 17.7 x 9.8

17.6

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

17.6

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

17.6

21.6 x 15.8 x 7.9

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

13.2

21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8

22

22 x 16 x 8

13

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

17.6

22 x 16 x 8

15.4

22 x 14 x 9

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8

22

16.5 x 12.5 x 10

22 x 18 x 10

22

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

11

22 x 14 x 9

22

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

22

20 x 15.7 x 9

22

24 x 17 x 10

21.5 x 13.7 x 9.8

17.6

22 x 14 x 9

22 x 14 x 9

22 x 14 x 9

50

45 linear inch

20

45 linear inch

22

23 x 13 x 9

39.6

45 linear inch

22

21.6 x 15.7 x 9

22

22 x 14 x 9

24 x 16 x 10

34

22 x 14 x 9

25

21.5 x 13.7 x 7.8

22

21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8

22