Google Flights Explore: Discover Affordable Adventures Anywhere

We've all had those moments when we desperately need a break from our daily routine and long for a spontaneous getaway. If you're looking for an affordable travel experience, regardless of the destination, we have...

We've all had those moments when we desperately need a break from our daily routine and long for a spontaneous getaway. If you're looking for an affordable travel experience, regardless of the destination, we have just the tool for you. Google Flights Explore is here to help you find the cheapest flights to anywhere you desire.

Unveiling the Hidden Gem

Google Flights Explore is a little-known feature within the popular travel search engine. With this powerful tool, you can narrow down your search to stay in the U.S., explore Europe, or embark on any other adventure you can dream of. Not only does it allow you to set your own preferences, but it also exposes you to countless destinations you may have never considered before. In a time where flights are becoming increasingly expensive, this tool becomes even more essential for finding affordable travel options that fit your budget.

Whether you're planning a budget-friendly vacation this summer or in the coming years, let's dive into how you can use Google Flights Explore to find the cheapest flights possible.

Finding Google Flights Explore

Although Google doesn't heavily promote Google Flights Explore, it's easy to access. Simply visit the Google Flights homepage at, enter your departure airport, and leave the destination field blank. Alternatively, you can head straight to to access this feature immediately.

Once you're there, you can filter your search based on trip duration, number of stops, preferred airlines, baggage options, and much more. The interface will showcase a map with the cheapest places to visit according to your filters.

Pro tip: If you're specifically looking for flights, click on "Travel Mode" and select "Flights only" to avoid seeing results that involve car travel.

google flights explore home Figure 1: Google Flights Explore homepage

Exploring the Possibilities

Google Flights Explore operates similarly to the main Google Flights search engine. It offers origin and destination search bars, date fields, round-trip or one-way options, cabin preferences, and passenger selection.

One limitation of Google Flights Explore is the inability to select specific airlines. However, you can work around this by starting a regular Google Flights search and choosing your preferred airlines. Afterward, change your destination to a broader location like "United States" or "Europe." This forces Google Flights Explore to display flights only from the airlines you chose.

The beauty of Google Flights Explore lies in its flexibility. You can enter your home airport if it hasn't auto-populated for you and adjust the dates according to your needs. If you have a specific weekend in mind for your getaway, enter the dates accordingly. However, if you're more flexible and simply need a weekend escape sometime in January, select "Flexible dates" and choose "January" and "Weekend."

google flights explore Figure 2: Google Flights Explore options

The destination can range from broad locations like "The United States" or "Europe" to more specific states or cities. It's entirely up to you. If you're in search of some West Coast sunshine but have no preference for the exact location, simply zoom in on the map and see what flights pop up.

Let's say you want to spend a few weeks in Mexico sometime during the fall or winter and prioritize affordability over specific dates. Enter your departure airport, set "Mexico" as your destination, and select "All" in the date field.

google flights explore Figure 3: Example searches on Google Flights Explore

Once you've found a potential destination, click on the result to access specific flight options. You can even modify the schedule to explore alternative dates with similar or lower prices.

Setting Ground Rules with Filters

While Google Flights Explore doesn't offer the same level of customizability as the standard Google Flights page, you still have the freedom to set some preferences. Here are the filters at your disposal:

  • Travel Mode: Choose between flights only or expand your search to include destinations that require some driving.
  • Stops: Specify the number of stops you're willing to make or opt for nonstop flights only.
  • Airlines: Although you can't select or exclude individual airlines, you can filter results based on the three major airline alliances: Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance.
  • Price: If you're on a budget, set a price limit so that the Explore Map displays results within your desired price range.
  • Bags: Toggle this filter on if you want your fare to include a carry-on bag.
  • Flight Duration: Determine the maximum flight duration you're comfortable with or filter out fares with longer layovers.

google flights explore Figure 4: Filter options on Google Flights Explore

Quirks to Remember

While Google Flights Explore is an incredibly valuable tool, there are a few limitations to keep in mind. The search results are generally available up to 11 months ahead, but this feature can't search beyond six months unless you specify exact dates.

For travelers within the U.S., searching for flights on Southwest Airlines separately is necessary. Southwest flights do not appear in the results on the standard Google Flights search engine. To find cheap Southwest Airlines flights, it's best to utilize their Low Fare Calendar.

Lastly, keep in mind that the search results on Google Flights Explore are not sorted by price, nor are they always highlighted on the map. It's essential to thoroughly scan through the results and explore the map to ensure you don't miss any potential options.

Stay Updated with the Latest Features

Google continues to enhance the Explore feature, introducing interesting changes with each update.

Discover Major National Parks

One significant addition to the Explore feature is the inclusion of major national parks worldwide. This update likely stems from the increased interest in outdoor travel activities due to COVID-19. Hovering over a national park on the map reveals the flight price to the nearest airport and the driving time from the airport to the park entrance. It's a fantastic way to explore nature's wonders affordably.

google flights explore Figure 5: Major national parks featured on Google Flights Explore

Clearly Marked Major Airports

Points of interest, such as cities, beaches, and parks, are now clearly marked with blue dots on the Explore map. Clicking on these dots allows you to discover nearby attractions and reveals flight options from the nearest airport, as well as the distance from the airport to the point of interest. This addition lets you plan your itinerary more effectively.

google flights explore Figure 6: Points of interest marked on Google Flights Explore

The Bottom Line

Google Flights is already the leading flight search engine, but the Explore feature takes it a step further. Whether you don't have a specific destination in mind or simply need some travel inspiration, this tool is an invaluable resource. It becomes particularly useful when flight prices soar, as it helps you find the cheapest flight options available based on your preferences.

So, the next time you're itching for a spontaneous adventure, go ahead and give Google Flights Explore a try. You never know what amazing destinations you might discover at an affordable price.