When I travel abroad, I spend less on airfare than I do on ground transportation, lodging, or food. I’ll let you in on some of my secrets. Below are my top tips for booking dirt cheap international flights.
1. Use SkyScanner.
No, I do not have a special arrangement with SkyScanner. This site simply has the best features to help identify you cheap flight opportunities. When looking up flights, choose an origin and a month, but do NOT choose a specific destination or specific dates. Cheap travel is all about being flexible.
2. Replace layovers with stopovers.
When traveling to multiple countries, avoid layovers by instead incorporating connecting cities into your trip as destinations in their own right. This allows you to visit more places for less money. Ideally, you will book separate one-way flights and return to base a different way than you came. Note, however, that this strategy can be uneconomic for Trans-Pacific routes.
3. Alternate between cheap regional hubs and less accessible places.
If Bob lives in London and wants to visit Beirut, for example, he will choose to sandwich Beirut between two destinations that offer cheap access to bothLondon and Beirut: Istanbul and Cyprus. He will visit Istanbul for a few days before flying to Beirut. On his way back, he will visit Cyprus before flying home to London. Bob is smart for visiting three places for the price of one.
4. Book long-haul flights at least 3 months ahead and short-haul flights around 7 weeks ahead.
If you miss these benchmark, do try to book fast. Time is ticking! Oh, you waited until the last month? Sorry, the big bargains are gone, but don’t let that discourage you from traveling.
For advice on traveling to and from specific regions, be sure to check out this article on the geography of cheap airfare.