One of the most aggravating aspects of travel is trying to find a flight. Prices swing seemingly uncontrolled and airports a $10 taxi ride apart can vary hundreds of dollars.
As I’m sure you figured out, when backpacking you don’t need to be anywhere in particular at any time. Most travel is dictated by cost. You’d think this flexibly would make finding cheap flights easy, but it doesn’t.
There are a few tricks I’ve learned that help, but the greatest discovery just happened.
When on their home page you can select your start destination then type “Everywhere”. In the date range you can select an entire month or longer.
This will give you the cheapest options of where to fly over the month stack ranked by cost.
For the sake of being complete; here are a few other tricks I like:
Google: Type “origin city” to “destination city” (Some times adding the word “flight” helps). Example:
If there are any direct flights between those two cities Google will give you the carrier and a link to the homepage at the top of the search. Sometimes you can find cheap flights that don’t show up on the flight search websites.
Wikipedia: The cheapest flights are usually local budget airlines (ie Jetstar, Air Asia [So. East Asia], Ryan Air [Europe]). Wikipedia will give you a list of these budget airlines if you ask it. Just pay close attention to extra fees; baggage, ticket printing, etc.
Google Flights: Google launched this over year ago but kept it pretty quite. It’s only good for flights within the USA, but it’s pretty awesome.