One of the downsides of our loan repayment journey was that my husband and I did not have much time or money allocated towards travel. We would take every opportunity for overtime and side hustle gigs to get rid of our loans quicker and allocate as much financial resources towards clearing our liabilities. This allowed us to pay off $120,000 in 2.5 years, but left us little money for vacation expenses.
However, now that we are debt free and having a fully funded emergency fund, we have started taking vacations regularly and incorporating this expense back into our budget. I found Google flights was a great starting point for novice travelers like myself that want to find affordable flights and accommodation without too much complication. Here are a few features that make Google flights a great tool to use to save money when you travel.
If you’re not sure where you want to go, Discover Trips helps you narrow your search by providing you with the cheapest flights and accommodation. Simply input the month your interested in travelling, the continent you would like to travel to (if you’re not sure you can select ‘everywhere’) and what activities/interests you would like to do while on vacation.
The advantage of this feature is that it requires little information from the user and is great for those that want to travel but have not necessarily narrowed a place to travel too. This feature works best if you are not picky on which time period you wish to travel in a given month. Here is an example of flight costs from Calgary to different places in Europe for a week in February. Google automatically notifies me that the cheapest time to fly in February is around Feb 27-March 7.
Note: These prices are based on Canadian dollars, one adult, round trip.
Price Tracking for Flights
If you are not happy with the ticket prices quoted, have Google flights notify you by email when prices drop considerably so you can take advantage of them before they are gone. Many times airlines will have sales on flights at different times throughout the year. This information may not have been captured when you first went on Google flights as the airline has not provided the sale yet.
Let Google flights notify you when prices drop for your destination for any day of the year or for specific dates you wish to travel.
‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button
This is probably one of my favorite feature with Google flights. This feature is a quick and lazy way to get Google to do all the work for you. The versatility of this feature is the major reason why I like it. In order to access this feature, users must be in the ‘explore map’ section of the screen (not flights). See below.
Once on this screen, users can either decide to narrow their search by giving Google more specifics about their trip like which dates, maximum price they want to spend on flights (Google flights typically assumes a round trip for 1 adult unless you tell it otherwise), the duration of the trip etc. Then when you hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky”, Google generates a destination point that fits the specifics. Every time the button is clicked, a new destination is generated.
Alternatively, if money and time is not an issue for you, you can opt to set no parameters and still use this feature. Google flights will try and find good deals, but your search will be widened. Below is an example of a destination that was generated through this feature. From Calgary to Orlando, Florida round trip for $390.
Prices are quoted after taxes and fees
The prices that Google flights populates is after taxes and applicable fees. That’s huge for budgeting and planning your trip at a glance. If you live in Canada, you know how expensive the landing, airport and environmental fees are, especially when taking domestic flights. That feeling when you realize your flight costs just increased by $300 or more in taxes and fees by the time you checkout. Google flights has no surprises; the price they quote on Google flights is the same (or similar- may be off by a few cents) to the price on the airlines website once you get redirected to checkout. No surprises.
Here is an example for a round trip from Calgary to Montreal. Google flights quotes the price at $536 and West Jet’s final price is $535.10
Quoted in your local currency and ability to change currencies:
Google can determine where you live and quote a price based on your local currency. However, unlike other booking sites where you may be restricted to one or two currencies, Google flights allows you to toggle between numerous currencies.
Flight sorting feature
Sometimes getting the cheapest flight deals may come at cost (but not always). Once you know where you want to go, when you want to go and roughly how much you are willing to spend, Google flights provides a list of flight options that fit your price range and date.
To narrow your search even further, you can have your flight options based on categories like price, departure, duration, arrival, airline and stops. Each category option lists results in ascending order. Duration factors in both air time and lay over time and is listed from the shortest duration to the longest duration.
There are many great resources for booking trips, but I found Google flights very intuitive, easy to use and great for novice travelers that want a good deal, but may be intimidated by having so many options. In addition to the standard features that you would find in most travel websites, the features mentioned in this post make Google a top travel flight website.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post for Google flights.