a bridge over a cliff by the ocean

Got a budget and no idea where to go, or how far it can take you?

As the world of wanderlust grows stronger and the idea of spontaneous micro trips becomes mainstream, sometimes travel is more of a function of cost than where to go. In other words: you’ve got money, you have a few ideas of what you’d like, but you’re pretty open, especially if there’s a great flight deal lingering.

Google Flights has a wonderful tool to help expand your horizons (literally), which allows you to simply tell the flight search how much money you want to spend, and it shows you everywhere in the world that your budget can take you. And of course, it’ll help you book it too. Yes, this tool really can pick your next vacation for you, based purely on the budget you want, within reason…

a bridge over a cliff with a body of water and hillsHow To Use Google Flights Budget Tool

It’s really, really simple. For starters, you need to be on desktop or iPad though. Once that’s sorted, go to Google.com/Flights and plug in your ideal starting city, if it’s not already inputted automatically. Let’s say that’s “New York”. You then simply leave the destination field blank and then press “search”.

a screenshot of a social media postThis automatically triggers the cool discovery tools in Google Flights, which makes things seriously fun. Next, you look just immediately below those city fields to the tabs that say Bags, Stops, Airlines, Price, etc.

a screenshot of a flight scheduleYou’re one click from being done at this point. You simply slide the “Price” tool to your ideal budget and then like magic, a list of every destination on the planet which is available at that price will appear.  Easy, right?

a screenshot of a mapDo note though, you’ll need to actually hover over the places for the prices to appear, so don’t just assume there’s nothing at first glance. The best thing to do is zoom out and then just drag around the map a bit. If you’re looking at New York, zoom out and drag the map over to Europe, etc.

Like many, you may find that a place far-far away and awesome is cheaper than a place super close and boring. We said it could expand your horizons, right? In this particular search, with a budget of $400 round trip, it turned out that Barcelona was well below budget for round trip flights on American or Delta! So was Lisbon and even Athens, Greece!

a screenshot of a computerNow here’s the other cool tool. If you’re really just trying to learn how far your travel buck can take you, and you are a bit flexible with dates, you have options there too. You can enter specific dates, or better yet, you can press the “flexible dates” option when you click on the date field. It’ll give you options like “one week trip in July” or “weekend in February”, and you’ll be able to see when the cheapest times to travel are, and plan your options from there.

If anything, it’s just a great way to see what’s out there, and also – what’s not!

a mountain with a city and waterThis is just a really cool way to learn about travel, and an even better way to book it. It’s fascinating to explore the destination possibilities you may never have realistically considered previously, and also to learn about how seasonality can affect prices for each place. If you have some travel money, even just a little, and have a desire to travel but struggle to pick a place – this is a fun way to let Google Flights do it for you…

Like this? Here’s how to become a full Google Flights wizard.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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