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How to Find a Travel Deal within Minutes

*Disclaimer: I am a travel agent and use the agency for hotels, resorts, car rentals, and other travel expenses. I DO NOT use the travel agency for airline flights.

How many of you dread planning your next travel journey because of thinking you need to spend hours and hours to find everything? And that there is no way to find airline tickets for this journey in less than 30 minutes?

One of the questions I get asked about regularly is when I find cheap airline flights is how long it takes to find that kind of a deal. Usually, people follow that up with saying they don't have that kind of time on their hands to be scrolling and visiting different sites just to find cheap airline flights. (Which explains why people will just assume to buy tickets on a Tuesday.) During these conversations, many of them believe I spend hours scrolling through my phone trying to find that perfect deal for either myself or one of my travel clients.

In fact, I can typically find numerous cheap airline flights in less than 30 minutes. Yes, you read that right...NUMEROUS deals in less than 30 minutes. When I tell people this, they are in complete shock because I love finding cheap deals, but don't spend half of my days just looking for these deals. (I do look at flights throughout the day, every day to keep up with how flight prices are changing.)

On That Travel Deal's Facebook page, I have started posting flight deals I found and these deals were found in less than 30 minutes. Recently I found tickets from Charlotte, North Carolina to Guadalajara, Mexico for only $162 in less than a few minutes. And on another day I posted that I found tickets from Charlotte to Nashville, Tennessee for $110 which was done in less than 5 minutes. So, I thought it was time for me to share how I find these deals in such a short time period. Here is a guide I put together on how to find cheap airline flights in less than 30 minutes, hope you enjoy!

This link provided is an affiliate link and I may gain commission from you purchasing from these affiliate links. 

1. Travel Alerts

Travel alerts are by far the easiest way to find a good price on flights and not spend more than 10 minutes looking at the deal. Travel alerts will notify you when the price has dropped and will quickly direct you to those flights. The travel site does all the work for you! Talk about a time saver. Now, one thing to know about travel alerts, is that you do have to enter the destination and dates of your trip to set up the alerts. (If unsure on the dates, enter an approximate date that you have in mind.)

For me, I only use one site for travel alerts as I absolutely hate a million notifications going off throughout the day. I use Hopper to set up travel alerts for trips I am dying to take but haven't found any good deals on yet or for travel I have to take that have specific dates. Once I set up the alerts, Hopper starts to work for me and will notify me when the price has changed. For when the price jumps, Hopper even informs you that the price will most likely drop again which is a nice feature for people who aren't quite sure what a good price is on those flights.

When I knew I needed tickets for Las Vegas because of attending a travel blog conference, I immediately set a travel alert through Hopper, so it could start to work its magic from day 1. I had specific dates that I would be out in Vegas and even had a picky departing time for me to come home. (I needed to fly out on April 2nd, 2020, and fly back after 3 pm Pacific Time on the 7th. However, this trip was canceled last minute due to COV19). So I already knew these tickets would be a little harder to find... or so I thought.

Well, I was at work a few weeks later and a notification popped up on my phone letting me know the tickets to Las Vegas dropped and were only $24 one way! (This was my flight from Charlotte to Las Vegas.) I was absolutely thrilled and bought the tickets at that moment. All I had to do was click on the notification for the Hopper app to launch and direct me to the tickets. And within minutes I had the ticket purchased!

The second tip for anyone setting up travel alerts is to set up round trip alerts, and then another alert(s) for one-way tickets. Sometimes you can spend less on airline tickets by splitting the trip up into one-ways vs. round trip.

This link provided is an affiliate link and I may gain commission from you purchasing from these affiliate links. 

My return flight from Las Vegas happened the same way which I was grateful for because of needing to stay in Las Vegas until 3 pm PT. I clicked on the notification and within minutes had my returning ticket home. In all, I spend $57 on my Las Vegas tickets and did it all in less than 10 minutes. Almost unheard of! And what makes this price even better to me, was that a co-worker of mine was going to Las Vegas about a week or two after me and spent over $250 for his tickets. That's $193 difference!!! Jaw-dropping really.

**While travel alerts are a good way to be notified when airline tickets drop, I would not count on this 100% of the time.

2. Understanding Travel Sites

One of the ways I am able to find these cheap airline flights and not use hours of my time is by understanding what site to start with when searching. If you are a little confused about why this is important, let me share the importance of using different sites. Different travel apps, websites, or even companies will have patterns and trends that I have learned and picked up on over the years from watching airline flights. Not one site will offer you the best deals for everything that is out there. Meaning, some airline companies offer better deals on domestic flights than international or visa versa. Or one site may love showing how cheap it is to fly out of a certain airport than other ones.

And if that didn't make sense, let me compare it to doctors. If you have a health emergency pop up, you visit the ER. If you need yo visit your doctor because you have a small cough that won't go away, you visit your primary doctor. So there are tons of doctors out there, but they all specialize in something different. Same for airline flights. Different sites and companies are really good at certain kinds of flights.

A) For last-minute domestic deals, I turn to Skiplagged first. (Even before opening Skyscanner.) Skipplagged is a good place to go when needing domestic flights AND it being a last-minute flight. They also offer something new I haven't seen on other sites which is a "BACKPACK ONLY" price. I like this option because I travel with only a book bag and love that they show which flights accommodate a book bag only. It helps that the price is cut sometimes in half because of this.

When it comes to their deals, they display one-way flights, so make sure you find returning flights that Skiplagged can help you with. To change the dates to find the returning flight, click on the search bar located at the top where it says "Where do you want to go?" Once you enter your travel destination, the next screen will display a calendar where you can enter your travel dates.

~~To learn more about flexibility and traveling, check out my Flexibility to Travel blog to read more in-depth about how being flexible can help you with traveling overall.

On the calendar screen, you can change the filter from one way to a round trip. It even shows you a line graph that shows where your ticket price falls on the graph. Is the price on the high end or low end? I have provided two screenshots below that show flight prices from Atlanta to Los Angeles for dates in June 2020. The first screenshot is showing the price if flying out on the 7th and the line graph shows this price is definitely on the high end. The second screenshot shows a flying date of the 20th and the price is around the median point.

There are other sites out there that will give you good deals for last minute flights and some even display this offer when opening their site. Skyscanner is a good example of offering last minute flights for a good deal as well and includes international flights. (Honestly, I like Skyscanner for international flights than domestic.)

B) For domestic flights that are not last minute, I tend to lean towards certain airline companies depending on where I am traveling too. Below I am listing which sites I use and what I find they are good for.

  • Frontier Airlines: Domestic flights around the US

  • Allegiant Airlines: Good for trips to Florida

  • American Airlines: They typically offer good deals where the flight time is short

  • Skyscanner: Offers an array of options from airports to dates

C) For international travel, I turn to a few sites.

My go-to site is Skyscanner as it is one of the easiest sites to navigate and is known for offering the best deals out there. You can enter the airport you want to fly out of and enter "Everywhere" into the destination and the app pulls all the flights going out of that airport. Or if you know the destination then enter the destination and for the departing airport, enter "United States". Skyscanner will show you which states are flying to your destination and starts with the least expensive.

The screenshot below shows entering "Everywhere" in the To field.

The screenshot below shows entering "United States" in the From field.

This makes searching for flights super easy and quick to use that you will find travel deals within minutes. No more searching around for hours.

The next site I use for international travel is Travel Pirates which is an app good for travelers who aren't sure where they want to do. This app simply lists all the deals going on for that day and even shows which departing airport the deal is good for. (This was the app I found my $259 round trip tickets to Paris.)

3. Understanding a Good Deal

Now, this is one step that doesn't happen overnight and one that comes with time. Knowing what a good deal looks like means knowing what the median and high end are for the a certain flight.

For example, one of the destinations on my bucket list is Costa Rica and have been watching these tickets for months. (Seriously, like 6+ months, if not more.) Why am I still watching them months later? Because I know the price I want to spend on those tickets based on what I see the median and the high is. The median for these tickets from Charlotte or Atlanta, Georgia is around $230-$260 while the high ranges over $400!

The price I want to spend...less than $130. Seems a little steep huh? I saw tickets for ONE day that was from Charlotte to Costa Rica and cost less than $120. You can imagine how mad I was at myself when I realized what kind of deal I passed up on, but as I mentioned earlier, airline companies have trends and patterns. Those tickets will drop again to the price I want and when they do, I won't think twice about purchasing them this time!

This step does require you to watch airline flights for a certain destination, so you know when they drop to a price that is a steal! If you follow my guidance on how to use Skyscanner then you can watch these flights how every many times you want each week and still not spend more than 30 minutes each day glancing at them.

This link provided is an affiliate link and I may gain commission from you purchasing from these affiliate links. 

4. Try Something New

As I continue this journey of mine, one thing I keep reminding myself is to stay open to learning new ways or sites to use when wanting to find that travel deal on airline flights. I decided to list all the sites I have been looking into, but unsure if they offer what I consider a good deal. I also have not done much research on the reviews of the sites.

I am a big fan of reading reviews because people are more honest in online reviews than anywhere else. Now, of course, I will read some non-sense reviews, but you have to learn how to take all the reviews in and decide what seems to be the major things that stick out in the reviews. Maybe there are a lot of reviews done saying the site “forgets” to link to the airline ticket directly and it's quite troublesome trying to hunt the tickets down. Just an example.

So, use this list as you please, but know I am not in a place to provide my own thoughts on these sites…yet.

  • The Flight Deal

  • FareCompare

  • Fly4Free

  • The Penny Hoarder

  • Secret Flying

  • Kiwi

  • Travel Zoo

  • Flyer Talk

And there you have it! Some of my best practices for finding cheap airline flights in less than 30 minutes. I hope this helps you find your next travel destination without having to spend hours looking for flights.

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Hello Everyone, my name is Sara Elizabeth and a full-time working mom and a full-time student!

Over the years I have fallen in love with  traveling and exploring the great states of the United States! This passion grew from understanding how to find good deals on airline flights which have been the reason for many of my travel adventures. This journey has led me to find "that travel deal" for domestic and international flights. These are those kinds of deals that have people asking "How did you find them so low?" ...Well, to those asking that question, follow along this adventure of mine to learn my methods for finding that perfect travel deal. 

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