How to Find International Cheap Flights
Last year I had the following itinerary.
Technically, I went to 7 countries, (Italy was twice), but I flew back and forth to and from the US 4 times for $1037. Yes, I used miles for the other two, but even then, had I paid in cash that would have been 4 round trip tickets to Europe and Asia for under $2050. Which means, even if you don’t have points, you can still travel for super cheap.
Step 1: Get the Points / Save the Money
The first step to cheap travel is to find the credit card sign-up bonuses that result in airline miles. I have had Southwest, Delta, and Chase, and so far no credit card points have gotten me further (internationally) than the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I found each of my deals from The Points Guy and Dan’s Deals. Search for “travel rewards cards” and see what is active at the moment. Note, most of these only work with a minimum spend of some amount of money, so you’ll need to have a big purchase lined up. If your credit score isn’t so hot, check out Sarah’s post on raising your credit score.
If credit card points aren’t your thing, then you can step up your budgeting game and put some money aside. Remember, you need airfare, accommodations, travel around cities and between countries, food and entertainment, and emergencies. Don’t be intimidated, check out this guide to take control of your finances. But, you’ll at least be finding a cheap ticket, so your travel expense won’t be too high.
Step 2: Find the Deals
Let’s say you have a little money saved up, or you have some credit card points that are burning a hole in your pocket. Don’t ever fly internationally for over $700 again! Unless you’re buying business class, in which case, good on ya. Sign up immediately for Scott’s Cheap Flights. Just do it. Right now.
What Scott’s Cheap Flights does is send emails for cheap airfares, almost every day. This is very dangerous if you are an impulse travel buyer like myself. But it’s worth it! Here is what the emails look like:
You’ll get frequent emails that list destinations around the world and a list of places that you can fly from. Hopefully one of these locations is close enough to you, or you can get to it cheaply. Instructions for how to recreate the deal are all in the email from Scott’s Cheap Flights. I seriously can’t say enough about them. I have booked every single trip thanks to one of their emails.
Most often the deals are from LAX, SFO, BOS, or JFK. If you don’t live in one of those places, make sure you check the Southwest Low Fare Calendar to see if there is a sale from your location to one of the cities that has the deal.
Step 3: Recreate the Deals and Book!
Once you’ve signed up for Scott’s Cheap Flights and you see the first deal you want, it’s time to book! In a new tab, go to google.com/flights and let’s say you were emailed about a deal from Seattle to London. In the box that says “Where From?” type “Seattle” and in the destination box type “Europe.” Don’t worry about the dates yet, just hit “Search.” You should be taken to a big map, with a sidebar on the left that shows your search information. Here, click the date box and select “Flexible Dates.”
If you have a flexible schedule, you can leave the first parameter on “All,” if not set it to your month and change the duration for however long you want. Hit “Done” and then set your price filter and voila.
You find your deal to London, and it is an incredible unicorn, a nonstop! Now that is a good flight. For the sake of the lesson, we’ll say your dates are flexible and you can book the exact dates that came up. Click directly on the London box on the left-hand side, then click “View Flights.”
This will take you to the next screen where you can play around a lot with dates and other metrics. But, we’re just going to continue booking since this flight is exactly what we want. The first flight is ideal, since it is the cheapest, has perfect departure and arrival times, has the shortest travel time, and is a nonstop. Select it, and then select your return flight.
Then you will see all your flight details and an option to book directly with the airlines. Select that and it should take you to the airline websites. The information will already be populated for you on the airline website, then you just complete the booking!
Note: If you cannot recreate the same deal on the airline website that means the deal has already passed. You will not get any kind of discount after booking! The deal on the airline site must exactly match that shown in Google Flights, but the airline is under no obligation to give you the deal shown in Google Flights so better luck next time!
Scott’s Cheap Flights often finds crazy deals and mistake fares that are gone 12 hours or less after the email sends out. You must be able to book quickly! Many times the trips are not for 2-8 months in advance, so you don’t need to be able to leave by tomorrow, you just need to be able to decide and buy very rapidly. These fairs are often not refundable, so make sure you are reading the airline’s fine print.
Step 3: Travel for Cheap
Now, you have done the hardest part! Funding your trip, deciding where to go, finding a deal, and booking a trip. It’s time to enjoy! Remember to check Google Flights if you are looking to fly from one country to another while you are traveling. And we’ll have a whole host of other travel tips coming your way soon.
Where is your dream vacation? Tell us in the comments! Have you already used Scott’s Cheap Flights? Where did you go? Tell us that too!