Get ready to arm yourself with your web browser and a handful of the best travel sites. In this guide, I’ll lay out the basics of buying airline tickets, highlight some fancy tools to help you find the right time to buy, help you set up a few passive tools for making the best deals come to your doorstep, and in general highlight how I regularly go about finding great deals on airfare. (I fly roughly once a month, and using these strategies have secured tickets so inexpensive all I had to do was pay the tax on what the price of the ticket would have been.)

It’s impossible to know what a deal is if you don’t know the flight market. Before you get started hunting, you should have an idea of what places you are interested in traveling to, and a general time frame in which you are interested in doing it in. Search engines like Bing Travel and Kayak offer some handy tools, which we’ll cover in a bit, for scoping this information out. While it may seem strange that some routes are more expensive than others, keep in mind prices are often set depending on how competitive a route is.

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