I have this major problem when it comes to deciding where to go on vacation: I want to go everywhere. That makes it incredibly difficult to narrow the world down to where I can go in 17 vacation days + weekends, and price can be one tool to help narrow the search down.
While waiting for fare sales on the Mileage Run forum is one option and bombarding ITA with a thousand searches is another, Google Flights just may be the easiest way to gather inspiration. Enter your starting destination and preferred dates, and wait for Google to pass on fare information to you.
There are a few reasons why this search option far excels compared to others:
- It is accurate. If I see a rate I like, I can actually price it out on airlines’ websites and buy the ticket.
- It is specific. Kayak Explore can be a good starting point, but you can’t specify exact dates or lengths of stay, so that weekend getaway you’d like might be oodles more expensive than the 10-day fare Kayak was displaying. Airfare Watchdog is also harder to pinpoint options that work for you. (On the flipside, you might find these options perfect for your needs if you are very flexible).
- It is customizable. I can add in multiple departure airports, time of departure/arrival, preferred alliance, number of connections, total time in transit, and maximum price.
Once you choose your cities, there is another feature I like – a visual calendar of fares, just in case you are flexible on your dates. I find the visual much quicker to scan than ITA’s calendar view.
Generally speaking, this tool is not as comprehensive as searching on ITA for specific flights, routings, or fare classes. It’s also not going to show you fares to every airport in the world, so if you’re headed somewhere off-the-beaten-path, you’ll have to direct it to search for that airport specifically. You’ll also still have to leave the website in order to actually buy your ticket. However, for simply providing options when your dates are set in stone but your destination is up in the air, I think it’s a fantastic tool.
Thanks to Dan’s Deals for the update that Google Flights is now searchable by region (i.e. JFK to Europe), though I still prefer to keep my destination entirely blank!
Bonus points and my eternal gratitude to anyone who creates a similar program for showing options on using your miles and points. I’d love to plug in my starting point, dates, and see where I can get on available seats…