Many people have said, “I wish I could travel” to me more times than I can count. When I genuinely ask what is stopping them, the number one response I get is money. More specifically, expensive airfare. Now, I personally can’t afford to take a bunch of $1000 flights to Europe by any means. I have rent, bills, groceries to buy and a car to fuel up. (Didn’t win the lottery, sorry to disappoint) So how do I travel so much?
Last October I paid $1300 for a trip to London but this October I’m paying $300 for a trip to Europe. In the past year I’ve learned so much about how to make traveling affordable and I want everyone else to learn how to as well. Spoiler: You don’t have to drain your bank account to make your travel dreams come true. Crazy, right?!
I’m going to confess my best-kept secrets to cutting your airfare dramatically. Ready?
Step One: Pick Your Airport Wisely
Living in Nashville, Tennessee we haven’t exactly been blessed by the airfare Gods. In fact, if I tried to fly directly out of Nashville I’d barely be able to afford to travel. Instead, look at your major cities to book airfare. Don’t know where to start?
Go to www.skyscanner.com
If you’re flying international, search:
From: United States
To: Your Destination
*Since Paris is a popular destination, I’ll be using a random date to show you how this method would dramatically decrease your travel expenses.*
This will bring up every city in the States and WALLAH! You have your cheapest city to fly out of.
Now, pick your desired airport and step one is complete. In this situation I would choose JFK since it is the cheapest.
Step Two: Create Your Own Layover
Once I find which city I want to fly from I now have to find a way to get there. For my fellow Americans, I typically check Southwest first. More often than not, they have a sale on their already cheap flights. The downside? There are a lot of major airports they do not fly to (Like JFK and ORD). If you aren’t happy with your results, go back to www.skyscanner.com.
Remember to pick flights that allow you enough time to pass security and customs if necessary, and also board your flight peacefully. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can create a long layover that gives you enough time to explore a new city. Since you’re creating it, the ball is in your court.
Using sky scanner I found a flight from BNA to JFK for $123.
This brings my total to $322 for my travels to Paris.
Now let’s compare that to a flight on the same day from Nashville to Paris. We’ll use a very popular airline, Delta.
So as you can see, in this case my method just saved me $2,615 on airfare. I’d say that’s worth an extra few minutes checking out flights.
Most airports aren’t as expensive to fly out of as Nashville. For those of you who are in cities where airfare looks like this, this will change your whole mindset of flight prices.
Not married to the idea of a certain city? Good news, this could save you even more money. When picking your destination choose “Everywhere”. This will show you where the cheapest places to fly in the world are right now!
If you want the best deal, it may not happen the first try. Airfare fluctuates almost daily. The prices rise and fall like a roller coaster. While I used to keep a million tabs up on my laptop to constantly track the prices, I discovered my favorite travel tool…
This app essentially stalks your flight for you. It initially tells you whether to “Book now”, “You should keep watching this trip” or my favorite “This isn’t a great price, but you will likely pay more if you wait”.
After you choose to “Watch” a trip, you will get text-like notifications letting you know when your airfare has dropped or raised. This app does the work for you and it has saved me countless hours of research. I personally found a $500 round-trip to Tokyo through this app which I would have never dreamed of.
Disclaimer: Hopper will charge you a $5 fee for purchasing through the app, which to me is completely worth the money you save.
–Avoid booking your flight on “popular days” which are Friday and Sunday.
-Instead, try to book on “unpopular days” which are Tuesday or Wednesday. There is no exact science to this, but statistically less people fly on these days, which in return lowers the price. (2nd best days are Thursday and Saturday).
Don’t. Be. Picky.
If you’re expecting a direct flight with no hassle, go ahead and lower your standards. I’ve yet to fall into a beautiful direct international flight that takes off and lands at extremely convenient hours. (I still have hope though). There might be 15-hour overnight layovers, an hour connection to pass customs and sprint across the airport, a starting flight at 5am that takes 32 collective hours to reach your destination but you learn to embrace it. The journey is never going to be perfect but hey, that’s the beauty of travel. You’ll make sacrifices to save a few hundred bucks, but to me… it’s worth it.
Once you realize airfare doesn’t have to be a huge expense, your travel life will change forever. I went from expecting $1300 international flights to complaining when my airfare is over $400.
So what are you waiting for? Go book that flight. The world is waiting for you.