If you read the series on our honeymoon adventures in Europe (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 here!), you may have noticed a prevailing theme was doing it on the cheap. We had an amazing honeymoon trip, full of great food, wine, and lots of cultural sites, but after paying for our own wedding (maybe one day I’ll post about it… maybe) we needed to make sure we were being as frugal as possible with our trip plans.
- Be flexible with your travel plans
One of the biggest things I’ve learned about finding cheap airfare is that you have to be flexible with at least one aspect of your travel plans. In our case, we knew we wanted to travel immediately after the wedding, so our dates weren’t very flexible, but we didn’t have our hearts set on a particular place, so that was the variable we played with. Since different cities and countries around Europe have different Peak Seasons and special events and festivals, if you’re flexible with when or where you want to fly, you can find savings of hundreds of dollars per flight. There are a lot of ways to track this, which leads us to …
- Use a great travel site, like Momondo.com
At this point, there are a million and one different travel sites, all claiming to be better than the next. My personal favorite for booking travel to Europe is Momondo – a “free and independent” service that compares prices from thousands of airlines and sites across the web. They let you filter flights by cheapest, shortest travel time, and “best”- the ones that strike the best balance between price and travel time. They’ve also got an amazing Trip Finder section where you can search Anything, Anywhere, or Anytime. This goes hand in hand with tip one, being flexible with your plans. If you want to travel to Sweden, for example, it’ll show you the price range by week for the whole year, so you can find the cheapest flight. Alternately, you can search by a time frame and find the cheapest flights for that week your office will be closed for fumigation. One of the best things about Momondo is that they direct you back to the airline or travel site where they found the fare. This is great because if airlines have free or cheap add-ons (like choosing your seat, adding a meal, or booking a multi-day Stopover in Iceland (GUYS, we are doing this in March! Get ready for lots of posts on that topic!), you can do so in an easy and hassle-free way.
- Use a tracker app
If you are able to be completely flexible or have a solid amount of time to plan your trip, using a tracker app can save you a lot of money, too. My current favorite is Hopper, which lets you track specific trips and alerts you when prices drop. Again, if you’re just planning a trip for “sometime this year” and have a couple options you’d like to check out, this is a wonderful, easy to use option. Which, conveniently, leads to number 4:
- Be ready to pull the trigger on booking your trip
I’ve learned this the hard way more than once, but if you find an amazing deal you have to be ready to book it. Fare sales can end, lower price tickets can sell out, or website cookies can mess up your bargain hunting. If you’re planning for a trip, have the money set aside, and an amazing deal pops up, jump. on. it. You’ll regret it if you miss the opportunity. Trust me on this one.
- Pack Light
With baggage fees skyrocketing on domestic and international flights, and different baggage size requirements with international carriers, it pays now more than ever to only bring carry on luggage, or Hand-luggage as they charmingly call it in Europe.
- Long layovers can be great- don’t be afraid of them!
This goes back to being flexible with your travel plans. Often times, you can find cheaper airfare if you’re willing to hunker down in a random city along the way for a spell. We did this and ended up with about 9 hours in Stockholm and 20 hours in London during our honeymoon! IcelandAir even offers deliberate stopovers, where you can plan a multiple-day stopover in Iceland on your travels between Europe and America at no extra charge! We are taking advantage of this on our upcoming trip to Amsterdam, and will have about two-and-a-half days in Reykjavik on our return trip!
- Use points/travel rewards/ air miles whenever you can!
This one requires some planning and is really more of a long-term plan to help you offset travel costs. There are so many great travel credit cards out there, with an ever-rotating menu of deals and incentives to get you to sign up. I’ll do a feature on this soon, but find one that works well with your normal spending habits to maximize the points you’ll be able to accumulate before a trip. We personally use the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card for now. We chose it because of the points bonus for signing up, the points bonus for being existing BOA customers, and the ability to earn points on every purchase we put on the card. We actually opened this card at the beginning of our engagement and put just about every wedding expense we could on there (and paid it off quickly after) to rack up some major points.
There are a lot of other ways to save money on your travels, and I’ll get into a lot of those in future posts, but I hope this provided you with at least one new idea for finding inexpensive airfare. Traveling abroad is not nearly as expensive as a lot of people perceive it to be, and with a little know how, a little time, and a bit of planning, you can find amazing deals!
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