Feeling broke after the holidays? Does the thought of traveling for even a short getaway seem like an over-the-top indulgence?
It doesn't have to be. You're not too broke to fly and here's proof.
• Got $19? That's what one-way flights on Frontier were going for this past week.
• Got $99? That's what a Wow Air flight to Iceland (one-way) was going for from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Sometimes round-trip fares on discount airlines are more than double the one-way price, sometimes not. Frontier's recent one-way fare of $19 for Atlanta-Boston came to precisely $38 round-trip (depending on itinerary), while the cheapest round-trip flight for Wow's recent $149 one-way Boston-Paris special was $374, still a steal by any standard. Both carriers like fees and charge for things that are free on other carriers (such as soft drinks); Frontier also charges for carry-on bags.
But maybe you can't find these deals on your own or don't know where to start. No problem; this quick guide will help find very cheap flights so you can fly even if you are broke.
1. Fly now.
We're now at the tail end of the January deal zone (which actually concludes early to mid-February) when you can expect some of the best prices of the year. It's very simple: Most of us don't want to fly in these cold, dark months (plus, we're broke, right?) so airlines drop prices until they fill up their planes. Some of these drops are incredibly steep.
2. Set airfare alerts.
There's no need to spend hours on the phone or tablet or laptop hunting for deals. The simple act of setting an airfare alert means the deals come to you. No hunting, no wasted time. Best of all, setting an alert takes just seconds, but if you see a deal you like, jump on it. Others are setting alerts, too, you know.
3. Look for cheap destinations.
This can be a fun exercise: Think of all the places you've ever wanted to visit and see whether any are in the “cheap” pile. Here's the pile:
• Cheaper domestic destinations: Boston, Dallas, Denver and Seattle. We've also seen some pretty good deals to San Diego and Salt Lake City, depending on where you're flying from.
• Cheaper European destinations: Dublin, Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) and Iceland. We've also been seeing increasingly good deals to Paris.
4. Fly cheap days.
If you can travel in the middle of a week, you're golden. For domestic travel, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are cheap days but so is Saturday. For trans-Atlantic jaunts, weekdays are generally less expensive than weekends.
5. Fly cheap routes and airports.
In many cases, connecting flights with a stop (or two) are cheaper than non-stops. If you can handle a little more inconvenience, fly from the biggest airport in your area; it may not be the closest but bigger airports usually mean cheaper tickets and could make a long drive worth it.
Here's hoping you're feeling a little less broke now. Happy travels.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of Rick Seaney and do not reflect those of ABC News.