Google Flights: When to buy and fly airfare

Vacation planning sometimes can be difficult, but don’t be discouraged from finding a great deal.

I recently bought three tickets from Chicago to Florida for about $350 – a little less than $117 per person with tax – in a 1 1/2-month window before takeoff.

Google Flights is a great place to start, and there is nothing to download.

Point your browser to google.com/flights, and you will see round-trip, one-way, and multicity fares by month and day. Selecting the departure and return date range reveals the fare.

The search engine recommends the cheapest flight; choose up to five nearby airports and flexible dates to dig for deeper discounts.

To book, click through to the airline or discount fare website.

Some fares are missing, such as Southwest, but doing the homework goes a long way. Always compare.

And if you get stuck, Hopper and Skyscanner are nice alternatives.