Disclaimer: If you have too many restrictions, these tips will more than likely not work for you.
Want to travel but cannot get yourself to spend $1000 for an economy roundtrip ticket abroad?
Don’t worry! I can assure you that you do not have to spend that much to most destinations if you follow these tips below. Without going into great detail, here are 10 great tips you should consider.
Be flexible with your travel dates.
Most times the cheaper fares tend to be at a time or day when you won’t want to depart or arrive. Traveling mid-week (Tuesday or Wednesday) is usually cheaper than arriving on Monday or departing on Friday. Choosing to depart between 5am and 7am or after 8pm is cheaper.
Use flexible date search engines, such as Google Flights, Kayak, Kiwi or Skyscanner, to view prices over a range of dates. You can also sign-up for alerts from any of those sites to keep tabs on price changes.
Use the ITA matrix tool to compare other available fares.
You cannot book from the ITA matrix, but it is a great tool to use and there are many tutorials out there (here is one). You’ll have to make reservations on another website.
Use budget airlines.
Click here for a list of airlines by country. Yes, you might have to pack light to save on baggage fees (solution: invest in a carry-on backpack). Yes, you might have to pay for food (solution: bring your own food or eat before boarding). But it’s a choice.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Be flexible with your airport of choice.
This is applicable to your origin and destination. Using ITA matrix would be a good tool for seeing nearby airports.
Example 1: Let’s say you want to see France and Italy or a lesser known city in Italy. Purchase a roundtrip ticket from Houston to Paris. Then purchase a roundtrip ticket from Paris to Bologna via Ryanair for $35. It’s a 2 hour flight.
Example 2: Let’s say flights from Houston to Cuba roundtrip with no stops are on average $400. But there is a flight deal from Miami to Cuba for $100 roundtrip with no stops. And there is a deal from Houston to Miami for $80 roundtrip with no stops.
Total cost = $100 + $80 = $180
Total savings = $400 – $180 = $220
Also, depending on your origin/destination, you might be able to save some dollars by using the train, bus, ferry or finding a ride.
Buy one-way tickets if it makes sense.
Bare in mind that sometimes there are some risks involved, such as the hassle with a connecting flight or dealing with a delayed/cancelled flight.
You can also look into purchasing an one-way ticket on one airline and the one-way return on another airline.
Example: I bought a Southwest flight from Houston to Fort Lauderdale for $44 (no stops) and a United flight from Fort Lauderdale to Houston for $53 (no stops). I purchased the United flight because of it was a better time option for finding a ride and I saved $15 instead of buying a roundtrip flight from Southwest.
Be patient when searching for flight deals.
You might find a deal today and in a few days or weeks, there is a better deal. I would advise that you watch the following sites like a hawk! I check them at least twice a day. They can post up to 10 deals a day for different cities within the US and around the world. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to their mailing list. It’s best to follow them on Facebook/Twitter for instant announcements.
- Secret Flying
- Escape Houston | Escape Austin/San Antonio | Escape DFW
- Airfare Spot
- Flight Deal
- Fare Deal Alert
- Next Departure (for Canadians)
- All the Flights Deal
Example 1: Houston to Nairobi for $577 roundtrip via Qatar Airways
Example 2: Los Angeles to European cities for $154 roundtrip via WOW Air
Example 3: Glitch fare: Business class from Brussels OR Amsterdam to Tokyo for 422 euros roundtrip via Qatar Airways
Travel during low season.
This could potentially be a big savings not only in airfare, but lodging. For instance, there are cheap deals to Europe during their winter season (November to March).
Low season for South America is May to October.
The Caribbean Islands are cheaper from June to November, which is hurricane season.
Earn miles via reward-based credit cards and use them to travel for less.
If you tend to fly certain airlines frequently, sign up for their frequent flyer program, which are free. Both US-based and non-US based airlines. You don’t have to fly a lot to earn miles. Depending on the credit card, you can earn bonus points for dining out, airline purchases, buying gas, office supplies and so much more. To understand more about accruing and maximizing points/miles, visit http://thepointsguy.com/.
Here are some highly recommended credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- American Express Business Gold Rewards
- Capital One Venture Rewards
- U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards
Example: If you qualify for Chase Sapphire Preferred, you will receive 50,000 points just for spending $4,000 in the first three months. You earn 2x points per $1 for all qualified travel and dining transactions. All other transactions are worth 1 point per $1. Other card benefits included, but not limited to, are trip cancellation insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance and more. It has an annual fee of $95. So if you travel and dine out frequently, this is a great card for you!
Photo Credit: Chase
Search for flights with reasonable stopovers to explore a city.
Many airlines offer stopovers for free or a nominal fee. Find a flight with your desired city and call the airline to ask for a long stopover (24 hours or more).
I’ve done this a few times, but on flights with long layovers. But not a stopover. With my recent trip to Europe, I had a 7-hour layover in Copenhagen. Stepped out of the airport, explored the city, had dinner and returned back to the airport to catch my flight to Berlin.
For international fares, try purchasing your ticket using the local currency than your home currency.
This doesn’t always work but it is worth a try because some airlines charge different prices for the same ticket depending on the point-of-sale of ticket.
Before doing this, make sure you are using a debit/credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Charles Schwab, Capital One 360) to avoid extra fees.
Hopefully these tips were useful and you can start traveling for less. If there is anything you don’t know or understand, remember, Google search is your best friend. There is TONS of information on the Web. There are also travel groups and forums you can join.
Got other tips or travel hacks? Share below so others and myself can learn!