Are you interested in how to find cheap flight deals when traveling? There are a number of ways you can book a plane ticket, especially when traveling abroad, that you may or may not have thought about. Most people assume that traveling overseas is insanely expensive, especially when adventuring as a family. That is, however, far from true. It all depends on how you book your airfare! In fact, we have found much better flight deals for traveling abroad than for traveling within the United States the majority of the time. Before you dive into using all of the awesome resources to plan your entire trip like we talked about here, you will want to book your flight as the initial step.
When booking a plane ticket abroad, you will first need to identify which airline you do (or don’t) prefer, unless you are open to any flight deals that come up. Second, you can then look into options for tickets based on what best suits the needs of your trip. Typically, people will fit into one of three categories when deciding which airline to fly…
Some people are loyal to certain airlines and will only fly with that one airline, regardless of other flight deals that may arise. People who are loyal to an airline choose to be that way for a variety of reasons. The number of factors that promote such a dedication and commitment in which customers might consider include high quality and dependable service, safety ratings, earning travel points through credit cards, and more. The reasons one might decide to stick with a particular airline are vast, yet the reason will be very important to the traveler. As a result, loyalists rarely stray from the airline they know, love, and are comfortable with.
Being a dedicated customer of a specific airline is common, but it can make it more difficult to save money on a flight. You never know which airline will be having a sale, especially if you have specific dates you are wanting to get away. Additionally, the airline may or may not fly direct to the destination in which you are headed which could potentially create issues.
The Cautiously Open
More commonly, some people are open to a number of different airlines, but there are airlines they know they definitely don’t want to use. This could be from a bad experience with service, poor safety ratings, expensive fares, you name it! The list of reasons people may not care for a particular airline could be a mile long. Regardless of the reason, customers will do anything to avoid them if they have a choice.
Trying to avoid an airline is much easier than waiting for a specific one to have a deal. Chances are, the list of airlines that a passenger refuses to use will be much shorter than the list of airlines they are willing to take. Therefore, this method may increase your chances of finding a good flight deal!
The Deal Finder
Some people are all about the deal when flying. While luxury is always preferred, it can easily be sacrificed in order to get deal finders to the destination of their dreams. When looking to save money when you book a plane ticket, there are several different options available. Some people will look for the cheapest option available regardless of airline or seat class. Additionally, some people look into bundling their plane ticket with hotel reservations as that can also save you money depending on where you are wanting to stay.
We like to consider ourselves hybrids of the last two categories. As cautiously open deal finders with our airline preferences, we look at a variety of factors when we book a plane ticket abroad. When booking a flight overseas, there are a few different options for how to best choose your tickets. For us, we typically base our decision on price and accessibility.
Common ticket options are as follows:
1. Book a typical round trip flight from your hometown to your destination.
Most commonly, passengers book normal round trip flights that fly in and out of the same two cities. This is common since many travelers only plan to visit one major city while on their vacation instead of multiple cities/countries. However, booking a normal roundtrip flight does not mean that you have to only stay in one city the entire time!
If you choose to train (or plane) hop through different cities/countries once you are abroad, you then have to find a way back to the city your plane flight home is out of. You can either take the train/bus back to your original city, rent a car/uber, or book a cheap one way plane ticket from your last stop back to your original destination. Once you have found your way back to the city of your round trip flight, you can then fly home from there just as you regularly would.
2. Book a plane ticket from a major city in the U.S. whether you live there or not.
When looking to book a plane flight, major cities in the U.S. typically have the most options (especially the most direct options) and cheapest fares. A lot of times major cities, especially New York, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, LA, Miami, Dallas, and Orlando etc. can have some amazing flight deals. If you don’t to live near any of these cities, you can find a really cheap flight round trip to get you from your hometown to one of those major cities and then fly out from there in order to save money.
Keep in mind, flying this way this can be a hassle if you are traveling with checked luggage since you will have to go get your bags and re-check them in to the new airline. We have yet to choose this option because it just seems like too big of a hassle and the little money being saved is not worth it. We have friends who have saved a few hundred dollars a person round trip on a last minute flight to Europe though. To them the extra few hours in the airport was worth the savings! As always, the way you book your flight depends on your personal needs and preferences.
3. Buy a multi-city ticket.
A multi-city ticket is a ticket where you book a flight into one city and out of another. This type of ticket allows you to fly into your original destination, take a train/bus/car/plane to other cities or countries while on your trip and fly back home directly from the last city you stop in. This type of ticket sounds ideal! It can be pretty pricey though…
For the most part, we only attempt to buy multi-city tickets when an airline is having a general sale. If a sale is only for flights to a specific city (which is much more common), booking a multi-city ticket could drastically change the cost of your airfare. Airlines typically exponentially raise the cost of one-way fares to make sure you book round trip with them. A lot of times you can find round trip flights cheaper than one-way tickets. That’s why the only time a multi-city ticket becomes affordable is when the airline is having a general sale across their entire company and not just a sale to a specific city. If not, this is not the most economical way to book a flight when you are looking to save money.
Unfortunately, general airline sales to multiple countries that are close to each other do not happen nearly as often as specific city sales. When you see a general airline sale to multiple countries and you have flexible travel dates, you have hit the jackpot and should book immediately!!!
Aside from finances, however, if you are trying to see as many places as possible, a multi-city ticket is by far the best option. This will prevent you from having to worry about extra unnecessary travel or wasted time to get back to your original destination for a roundtrip flight.
4. Book a plane ticket and hotel reservation together.
When booking a plane ticket abroad, you can try to bundle a plane ticket together with your hotel reservation to save money. Based on our friends’ experiences, this is a great option and popular for people who are not extremely particular about where they stay. As long as the place is nice and clean, some people don’t care about what lodging they stay in because they will be out exploring the city more than they are at their hotel.
While we also spend very little time at our sleeping accommodations, we have never gone through with choosing this bundled airfare + hotel option. We typically love staying in Air bnb’s! We are always open to different places, but prefer Air bnb’s as they give us more of an authentic local feel. Additionally, you can affordably find places with great amenities such as a kitchen, washer, dryer, etc. which is especially helpful when traveling with small kids.
Time to make your decision!
As with anything, there are many options to consider when you book a plane ticket, especially when looking for a flight deal. For us, our decision is almost always based on the budget. Typically when you’re traveling abroad, booking a plane ticket can make or break your trip’s budget so it is a very important thing to consider! If we can save hundreds on flights when we have four people to pay for, then that savings will greatly reduce our overall budget. More importantly, it will allow us to allot the extra money to other things that we will want to see and do within our destination, especially eat the local cuisine. (Check out our post eating with kids while traveling if you want more information on how to do that!)
No matter how you choose to book your plane ticket, the possibilities are endless. It really just depends on how much you want to see, how much you want to spend, and how much time you want to spend at each place.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK: How to Find Cheap Flight Deals (Part 2)- We are putting together a post on which websites we use to book travel. There are always new sites coming available, but there are a few that are excellent for economy tickets. Additionally, several bloggers have extensive information on air travel from specific cities we will include as well.