When Scott Keyes graduated from college, he knew two things — that he would never be rich and that he wanted to see as much of the world as possible. Although most people told him that a lack of funds would preclude frequent international travel, he figured there had to be a solution.

Scott threw himself into learning everything he could about flight pricing. Before long, he understood airfare patterns fairly well, and he began connecting with an online community of fellow cheap-flight hunters.

Then, in 2013, he came across the best bargain he’d ever seen: $130 for round-trip airfare from New York City to Milan. He spent the money (roughly the price of a mid-range suitcase), went on the trip, and when he returned, found himself bombarded with questions from his friends and coworkers. They all wanted to know if he could tell them the next time he found such a great deal.

And, just like that, Scott’s Cheap Flights was born. At first, it was just a side project — a newsletter service that sent out emails about inexpensive airfare. But, as subscribers started spreading the word, more and more people signed up. By August of 2015, there had been so much organic growth that Scott turned the operation into a full-fledged business.

Today, Scott’s Cheap Flights offers both free and premium options. Subscribers to the free service can expect several emails a week about airfare, while premium users receive more frequent notifications and even better bargains. Scott still spends hours every day looking for great deals, but he doesn’t work alone anymore — about 30 budget-airfare whizzes have joined his team to make the travel magic happen.

Photo by Scott Keyes.
Photo by Scott Keyes.

Although tens of thousands of people have reached out to thank Scott for his work, he says that hearing their success stories is still the best part of his day. Whether subscribers reconnected with a relative in Asia or scored a cheap honeymoon in Europe, Scott says there’s something extremely gratifying about knowing how his business helps budget travelers. About two-thirds of his subscribers are under the age of 45, and many of them live and work in urban settings — but they are all united in their love for travel, and they all hope to save big bucks along the way.

So what should everyone know about finding affordable airfare?

Scott’s first piece of advice is that it’s more important to chase a fare than a destination. Start by checking Google Flights for good deals anywhere in the world, and then choose where you’d like to go. Look for flights often, and when you find one you like, buy your ticket before the cost goes back up.

And be flexible! If you fly overseas, you can often score flights to another city on the same continent for less than $100 — meaning you can always get to your dream destination, even if your first ticket takes you somewhere else.

Next, make sure you’re booking your flights early enough. For domestic travel, Scott recommends locking in a great fare one-to-three months before your departure. For international trips, the window widens to two-to-eight months in advance. And, if you’re planning on traveling during peak summer months, Scott suggests adding an extra month or two to each of those timeframes.

Last but not least, remember to sign up for Scott’s newsletter. Among his list of personal favorite destinations are Mexico, Japan, and the Netherlands — so the next time he finds a steal of a deal to those countries, you should jump at the chance!

Refresh your inbox, and pull out your passport. We’ll see you in the air.

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Whitney Brown
Whitney Brown is a recent journalism graduate and travel writer based in Utah. She has lived in France and Ireland, and she's always planning her next big adventure. In addition to her passion for travel, Whitney loves archaeology, photography and floral design.