Looking for the best and cheapest same-day return flight deals is like poking your finger in a bowl full of thick, black oil in search for a solitary grain of rice!

Trying to track down the cheapest flight from Brisbane to Canberra before July 22 has become desperate ignited by my irrational desire to experience Cartier exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia ending July 22.

It’s been a disaster. Rule of Thumb: book as early as possible because the closer you get to the date you want to depart, the more expensive the flight becomes. Crazy. I know. Wouldn’t you think Lastminute.com would throw a couple of cheapies out there for us locals?

What complicates my search is that I want to fly to Canberra early morning, spend the day there and then return to Brisbane that afternoon or evening. Easy right? Apparently not. However, if you are travelling locally and you have the budget and flexibility to stay for a night, or more, your search and options are better.

Word of Caution fellow travellers: Do remember, the more sites you visit, your computer will pick up on this search and the flight prices will start to serge. Try to browse incognito then the prices shouldn’t fluctuate dramatically.

Based on personal experience my preference for flight searches is Skyscanner. What I love about Skyscanner is that you can see a whole month of flights rather than having to keep changing dates. Google Flights is up there too.

In March Travel + Leisure published a story on Exactly How Far in Advance you should Book your Flights. The study by CheapAir.com, revealed the best time is to buy about 70 days before departure.

CheapAir.com recommends that travelers closely monitor airfares during the so-called “Prime Booking Window,” which is from four months to three weeks (or 121 to 21 days) prior to the departure date. During this time, travelers should closely monitor their travel route, and prepare to pounce on an attractive price.

CheapAir.com added travelers are taking a risk if they try to book a flight 20 to 14 days out. If you’re lucky, you might still find a good deal…but in general, fairs rise, and flights sell out.

Apparently, there is NO best day of the week to book but seasonal trips do require a decent lead time. Summer trips are best booked 47 days in advance, spring vacations 90 days ahead of departure; for winter holidays it’s 62 to 69 days. Are these stats for Americans travelling throughout the US or overseas…who knows?

Traveller.com.au however shed more light on the subject. In an article “When is the best time to book your holiday? Fairfax Media’s Jane Fraser wrote Skyscanner found “six weeks ahead of travel is generally the best time to book a long-haul flight.

The Skyscanner research has also confirmed the cheapest time of year to travel, with fares for May almost 20 per cent cheaper than average…the cheapest week to fly is week 19, or the week starting April 28, after the Easter school holidays…December is the most expensive month for flights, with week 52 extracting the most from travellers’ wallets. While six weeks was found to be the overall best timing for booking long-haul flights, it can vary by destination.

If you’re looking for a flight closer to home it pays to be more organised, with the best deals for short-haul flights typically found 21 weeks in advance.”

Well, there you have it. Looks like I’m not going to Canberra after all.

Here are the ‘best deal’ flight sites to log onto.

Skyscanner                         https://skyscanner.com.au**

Google Flights                   https://www.google.com/flights**

Webjet                                 https://www.webjet.com.au/Flights

Flight Centre                      https://www.flightcentre.com.au/flights

Airfarewatchdog               https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/

Tripadvisor                         https://www.tripadvisor.com.au

Booking.com                      https://booking.kayak.com

Expedia                               https://www.expedia.com.au

Hipmunk                             https://www.hipmunk.com

Kyak                                     https://www.kayak.com.au (linked with booking.com)

Priceline                              https://www.priceline.com

Momondo                          https://momondo.com (please note fare is in USD)

Onetravel                            https://onetravel.com

Cheapflights                       https://cheapflights.com/au

Priceline                               https://www.priceline.com

Yapta                                     powered by skyscanner

Budget Air                           https://budgetair.com.au

Wotif                                     https://www.wotif.com