*UPDATE 2018* Airfare Tips: Finding Your International Escape!
Hey Jetsetters!!! Sharing on the blog on more International Travel tips! On this post, I will be sharing how to get the best travel deals on airfare to Europe. These airfare tips may also help anyone traveling to other parts of the world too, but it is geared more towards Europe. My next post is the 2017 Travel Essentials– what I bring when traveling especially internationally. I write a new Travel Essentials post annually every May. So stay tuned for the 2018 version where I highlight new travel essentials that I discovered or helped me over the past year. So now check out below my airfare tips on finding deals on international flights as well as traveling between European cities & countries!
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page!” – Saint Augustine
When to Purchase Flights
I began to really traveling in 2006 and one pattern that I have learned and it never fails is what months do I get the best deal for summer travel! For some reason, the best deals I have always found in the month of January- this was when we booked our flight for Puerto Rico and Europe. I have no explanation for this, but the cheapest deals I have always found in January like this year. I begin to look in December and watch the flights and in January it usually drops. Sometimes there are still good deals in early February too, but each year January has proved to be the month! In 2017, I paid roundtrip/1-stop with tax $599 per person to London Heathrow. This was only because I did not book a different flight quick enough that we wanted which would have been $499 each! Flights consistently change. So when you see it try to book it or see if the airlines will let you hold the flight.
Flight Alerts: CheapDFW
For those who reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, you can sign of for emails or follow CheapDFW on Facebook (my preferred way) and they will alert you for various of cheap deals out of DFW or DAL whether they are domestic flights for international. I set up my Facebook settings so that when each time I open Facebook, their posts are on the top of my feed. As you know, those types of deals don’t last long. When a deal is gone, they update the original post stating so. I have been able to catch some really good deals because of this website.
Flight Alerts: Scott’s Cheap Flights
So a friend recently told me about Scott’s Cheap Flights where you can receive alerts on awesome deals especially “mistake fares” which I have always wanted to land a deal like this. A mistake fare is when the airline makes a error and roundtrip flight from Dallas to Australia is $200. Some airlines will honor it if you book it and others may cancel the flight and refund the money. But there have been people who were able to snag an awesome deal. Scott Cheap Flights is a subscription services where they offer you free alerts or for as little as $5 or more a month you can get more exclusive benefits and perks.
Flight Searches- Which Websites?
In addition to setting up flight alerts, knowing best websites to use for flight searches for international travel is very helpful. These website I use religiously for my travels domestic and international.
- Skyscanner – My #1 website! Checks all airlines and sites and when looking for local airlines within the foreign country, it pulls those airlines and similar Expedia type websites for that region. The best thing about Skyscanner is you can search by cheapest month where it will pull the cheapest months for that destination or you can search an entire month to see what days it is cheap to fly out for that destination. I use this site to look up flights within Eur ope too! It picks up airlines that other websites do not. Skyscanner also pulls a lot of the airline pages that I listed below such as Vueling, blu panorama & Ryanair. You can download the Skyscanner app which is THEY EASIEST way to get alerts and do searches too! Definitely bookmark this link!
- 1-800 Fly Europe– I have booked with them few times because they have the best deals. The SECRET- search for flights online and see what they are showing and then call them. They somehow can get deals a lot cheaper than what they advertise on their own site and other sites. Not all the time but a few times they are cheaper than what is being advertised. Summer 2016 our flight was with British Airlines to/from DFW to Milan. British Airline’s website had a roundtrip ticket for over $2,500 with tax. 1-800 Fly Europe website had the exact flight it for $1,600 with tax. But when I called 1-800 Fly Europe, I booked it for $900 with tax!! This has happened each time we booked. Another secret is that they will do a customary 24 hour hold. However if you forget to call them in 24hrs, the flight is usually still on hold and blocked at the same price too.
- Travel SkyHi – I recently saw a Instastory live video with Travel SkyHi and I surely been missing out! If you live in Dallas, this is DEFINITELY FOR YOU!
- Google Flights – This is good when you just want to getaway. Perhaps you want to visit Europe but want to know where in Europe you can fly in/out of for cheap. You can put in your dates and search DFW to Europe and it will pull all the flights out of the airports in Europe.
- Vueling.com – This is a nice Spanish airlines that has cheap flights within Europe. I booked a one way ticket from Rome to Paris for 35 euros! I even seen deals as low as 20 euros! The cool thing about traveling within Europe is when you are already in Europe, to fly to other countries is so each and cheap. One way tickets are so much more cheaper than one way tickets within the United States. Our flight from Amsterdam to Greece was only $68! I cannot even get from Dallas to Houston for this amount let alone to another State or Country.
- E-Dreams – This is a good flight search engine to compare and find flights and airlines that sometimes don’t pop up on Skyscanner.
- Blue Panorama – They fly out of Italy but to certain countries such as Greece, Cuba and other cities within Italy.
- Ryanair – This is the “Spirit Airlines” of Europe. Flights to/from other countries as low as 7 euros. But they will get you with luggage size/weight and seat selection. These are all additional expenses. I will bypass the bundled package at checkout and opt not to select my seat. If you booked with your travel buddy, then your seats will be together. This will save you about 14euros. Also no refreshments are free and they will try to sell you magazines and perfumes as well. So buy a drink at the airport and bring on the plane.
RYANAIR AIRFARE TIPS: Always pay for your luggage online when you book your flight to get the best deal. Always check in online 2 hours before and not at the airport to avoid paying an additional fee for the airlines to check you in. Always double check luggage weight and size. There carryon luggage size is lot smaller than most major airlines. You will have to pay for a hefty fee if you get to the gate and the bag is too big.
When to Fly Out
If you are like me and can only take so much time off, every day counts. When you fly to Europe, it takes about 8-12 hours to get to your destination usually with a connection. Europe is 6-7 hours ahead of central time zone. So factoring in both of these things, you can lose an entire day just to travel. To help with the loss of a “vacation day”, I try to fly out after work in the evening. Yes this can be stressful if you have stressful job but at least you are not using one of your vacation day to just get over there.
So I usually book a 5pm or 6pm flight which are usually cheaper because the popular flights are morning flights and not late flights. I usually arrive in New York or Chicago around 8pm and then it’s a night flight out of that city to Europe. You will arrive usually around 8 or 9am that morning in that country.
TIP: If you fly out after work, be sure your bags are completely packed, boarding passes printed so all you have to do is go home pick up your bag and go straight to the airport. Or take Uber with your luggage to work and then take Uber directly to the airport.
What some people don’t realize is that most all airlines that go to Europe depart in the evening anyway because the airports in Europe don’t service flights to come in after a certain time. Like Rome the airport is technically “closed” from 11pm until around 5am. I know this because me and my friends got locked in the airport from the inside because could not find the SINGLE door to let you out. With that being said, if you fly out of Dallas at 10am you will have a really long layover in your first stop anyway (i.e. New York) so you might as well (if it is cheaper) fly out at night so you have a shorter layover and sleep on the plane. If you connect in Chicago, you may fly out a little bit earlier than if you were to fly out of New York. If you already live in NY there may have a few early morning flights that leave early in the morning so you can arrive in Europe later that same night.
Also flying out Monday through Thursday are good ways to find good deals whether internationally or domestic. I usually try to flight out on Thursday evening. Coming back is cheaper to fly back home on Saturday or Monday versus Sunday. Sunday is always significantly higher.
Train or Bus vs Flight
Sometimes it may be faster and/or cheaper to take a train in between cities vs a plane and not having to pay for luggage all over again. In Italy, we take train from the Amalfi Coast which is not terribly long of a ride and you can get a ticket for 20 euros. When I visit my friends in Pescara, Italy, I take a “Pullman” which is basically a Coach/Greyhound style bus. Again no extra charge for luggage and there is AC. If you will be traveling on trains lot in Europe, check out Rail Europe for train times and Rail Passes (package deals) to save on multiple train/multi-country itineraries.
I hope you found these websites very beneficial! If there are other websites or things that you know of for international travel, I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment below!