When searching for plane tickets, you can save a ton of money by searching with flexible travel dates.
As part of our cheap travel tips series, I’m going to reveal my three favorite search engines for when you have very flexible travel dates. All three of these search engines allow you to search with more than the standard flexible search of 1-3 days around your travel dates. Instead, they allow you to search for flexible travel within the next 330 days.
Searching for flexible travel dates can save you literally hundreds of dollars on a flight. For example, if looking at airfare from Washington, DC to San Francisco, if you have flexible travel dates for when to visit you could pay $219 to for a flight in June. But, if your dates aren’t flexible — forcing you to leave a few days earlier or later — you would pay $319 for the cheapest flight. This is how flexibility saves you money.
Again, very few travel search engines allow you great flexibility when searching for flights. Usually the “flexible search” option is 1-3 days around your given date, but these search engines allow you the maximum flexibility — 330 days from today.
Kayak for Flexible Travel
Kayak’s search function also shows a popup window when you type in your to/from cities.
Cons: Kayak’s flexible travel search is based on other’s recent searches– so the results they show aren’t necessarily fares that are still available for you to purchase. This can be frustrating if you find a great fare, but then it’s no longer available.
FareCompare for Flexible Travel
I like FareCompare the best for flexible travel because it shows you the cheapest dates earliest in the searching process. As soon as you type in your travel to/from airports, the cheapest and most expensive months to travel appear on the right hand side. Then as soon as you click on the departure date, a calendar pops up. It’s fast and easy to follow.
Travelocity for Flexible Travel
Travelocity also has a great flexible travel search option that searches 330 days out. It lists the very cheapest ticket price first (no matter what month it’s in), but I don’t like it as much for three reasons.
- First, it isn’t laid out in a format that works well for me. I like the calendars that appear on both Kayak and FareCompare. Why? Because if it’s only $3 more to fly on a Friday versus a Thursday, I’m going to pay the extra $3. With Travelocity it’s much harder to see the flexible travel dates that work well with a certain schedule.
- Second, it takes 4 or 5 times as many clicks to choose your actual flight options — this gets cumbersome.
- Third, Travelocity don’t include taxes/fees in their results — giving you an artificially reduced price (until the final screen).
Searching for airfare with flexible travel dates will save you tons of money on your next airline ticket.