How to Find the Best Deals on International Airfare

Nov 02

When you’re planning a dream getaway to a foreign destination, airfare accounts for a large part of your overall budget. And when you can find deep discounts on airline travel, you’ll have more money to spend on your trip.

Following are some tips for finding budget-saving fares.

Timing is everything

Maybe you dream of visiting Paris in the summer. But if you’re willing to travel between November and the end of March — the off-season for European travel — you can save some significant money. If you’re going to be spending a lot of your time indoors exploring museums, the outdoor temperature isn’t that important — especially if enjoying warmer weather means paying a lot more for your plane tickets.

It’s a lot easier to find cheap airfare when you can be flexible about your travel dates. So rather than request vacation time at work before you book your flight, do it the other way around. Tell your boss approximately when you’re planning to travel, to make sure it’s OK, and then begin searching for flights.

If you’re traveling over the major holidays, you might be able to save money by flying on the actual holiday, rather than the days leading up to it. Also, according to Consumer Reports, most airfare sales begin Monday evenings, and you’re most likely to find the best deals at 3 p.m. EST.

By air, land and sea

If you’re flying to an island chain or traveling to a remote location, you may be able to save money by flying into the nearest major airport and traveling by bus, train, car or ferry to reach your final destination. Even within the United States, fares to fly into smaller airports exceed fares for arriving at major airports.

You could also consider departing from a different U.S. airport to save money. For example, you can usually find travel deals for flights departing Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. If you live in a nearby city with a smaller airport, compare fares to determine whether you could save money by driving to another airport to catch your flight.

Let aggregators find your fare

Outside of finding cheap airfare, you’ve got a life to lead, so why not let a travel aggregator site find the best fares for you? You can sign up for email alerts through sites like Travelzoo, Airfare Watchdog or Cheap Tickets, so you get notifications about tickets as they go on sale.

Reducing other expenses

When traveling abroad, there are plenty of other ways to keep your costs under control. Fill up on complimentary meals at hotels. Take public transportation instead of taxis. And insure yourself against loss by buying trip insurance and a medical insurance policy that will cover you abroad.

When you’re flexible about your travel dates and willing to explore alternative ways to reach your destination, you can save a lot of money on airfare. Begin searching several months in advance of your trip to find the best deals.