Google's travel planner combines serious airline software with the power of Google's internet search engine. If you know how to use it, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next vacation.
Here are 10 tips to start with:
1. Don't forget other money-saving advice
When you book a vacation online, it's easy to forget other creative ways to save money. Be sure to book on an air miles rewards credit card, and filter your flights to suit any airline you have a benefit card with (we'll explain how later on).
2. Use the Explore Map to find your next destination
Google lets you see every single location on our planet at a glance, and it's a fun way to find a unique destination. If you're planning a vacation but don't know exactly where, browse the world with this handy map and look for deals.
3. Plan your trip with the discover tool
Like the Explore Map, the Discover tool lets you fill in the blanks of your vacation plans. Say you know you're interested in fine dining, shopping, and beach-front views. Google will recommend affordable vacations that meet all your desires.
You can also filter by location, and the time for your trip.
4. Compare prices by airport
Once you start searching for a flight, there are a number of options you can customize on Google Flights.
Start by typing in your city of departure and destination, then click "Nearby airports." The website will automatically list the cheapest flight at each airport. Keep in mind: this trick works for your flights back as well.
5. Filter by airline
If you have strong opinions about which carrier you want to fly on, Google makes it easy to limit your search. At the top of your results you'll see "Any airline." Click on this to limit which carriers show up in search results, to suit your needs.
6. Watch for price alerts
While you're checking out your options, Google is constantly comparing prices for you. You may see a red "Price alert" pop up while browsing flights. These will warn you about upcoming price hikes on your flight ahead of time, so pay attention to them.
7. Be flexible
One of the easiest ways to save money on your flight is by picking "Flexible dates" when you book. In the calendar section, selecting this option will make Google identify the cheapest days to fly out and return home.
8. Hit the Price Graph button
Before you take the dive on your next flight, it pays to click "Price graph." This feature shows Google's expected trend for your flight in the coming weeks, including trends that price alerts don't warn about.
If you notice a price drop in your future, it's a smart idea to wait and book later.
9. Sign up for price change e-mails
You can turn on price tracking on a flight or destination to automatically monitor the price to fly every hour. Google Flights will send you an e-mail when the price drops. You can even limit your alerts to a certain departure date or time.
10. Extend your vacation
This sounds hard to believe, but it's true - you can sometimes save money by adding a day to your stay. If you see "Date tip" on your return flight, Google is alerting you that you can save money on a flight by moving your return time back a day or two.
11. Click on your flight for more info
While comparing individual flights, don't just stop at price. Google Flights has information on the legroom of each flight, and other special features like Wi-Fi or entertainment systems. Knowledge is power!
Have any vacation plans in mind?