PHOTO: Where are the best flight deals? (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
If you’re patient and quick enough, you can book an international flight to some far-flung destination for a few hundred bucks.
The downside? You usually have only a few hours to decide. (You’ll also have few flights to choose from and limited flexibility with dates.)
Rare flight deals are all the rage these days. The savings are huge, and so is demand. Each day, popular websites that feature these deals bring in thousands of readers ready to pounce.
I know because I’m one of them. While I can’t always take advantage, I’ve been known to book a cheap flight deal or two without any notice. For fall break this year, for example, I found four-round trip Delta flights into Madrid and home from Paris for less than $400 each.
After hearing of this sale on one of my favorite flight discount websites, I got hubby on board and booked in a matter of minutes.
The best way to position yourself for these deals is to know where to look in the first place. Here are a few websites you should follow if you want to fly near or far on the cheap:
The Flight Deal
The Flight Deal is the premier website for finding crazy-cheap travel deals. The upside is that you can find deals to any destination and from any departing city—if you wait long enough. The downside is, the deals rarely last more than a few days and you usually need to be flexible with your dates to make it work.
Personally, I like The Flight Deal because you can search specifically for deals from your favorite big city (Chicago for me), and the site is constantly updated with the best deals on the web.
Just be careful; if you don’t act quickly enough, the sale you’re after will inevitably disappear.
Secret Flying is another website that will alert you to cheap travel deals out of the U.S. and other countries. On any given day, you can learn of $400 fares to destinations from the Maldives to New Zealand to Phoenix.
Like The Flight Deal, Secret Flying will let you search for flight deals from specific regions. Once again, you usually have just a few days (or even hours) to act before the flight disappears.
My favorite tool to search for cheap flights is Google’s ITA Matrix. Using the simple search function on this website, you can compare prices from different airlines to myriad destinations.
To find the best deals, you can tweak the dates, your flight preferences and even your home airport. A lot of times, the ITA matrix can show you the cheapest flight combination for any destination—even those you wouldn’t find on discount travel sites like Expedia.
READ MORE The Truth About Basic Economy Fares (and How to Avoid Them)
The more we can save on the big components of our trips, the more money we left to spend on the fun stuff!
That’s why it always pays to shop around for airfare and hotel stays when you can. With websites like The Flight Deal, Secret Flying and Google’s ITA Matrix, you get to learn about the best deals before everyone else.