When you tell someone you’re about to travel, people think, “oh, you must have a lot of money to do that.” In reality, on many occasions, your budget is pretty tight. The difference between travelers and these people is the priority. Money that others saved to buy a new car, the traveler saved it to visit India finally. Have you ever wondered how someone gets cheap flights to Europe?
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Now that I made that misconception clear, it would be good to explain how everything starts. In my case, when I think about a certain destination, I check different blogs with travelers’ advice. I like to read about some travelers’ experiences and what the locals can say about their city. Doing that, you can also double-check if the place you’re planning to go to requires a tourist visa to get there.
After doing that, we should start searching for all those things that will squeeze our budgets. I always start looking for cheap flights to Europe (when I’m flying there) because it is the biggest expense you will have (if you don’t have miles or points).
Let’s talk about cheap flights to Europe…
If someone has told you once that finding cheap flights to Europe is easy (unless it was me because I have a few strategies), probably they were lying. Some myths say that the best days to get cheap flights to Europe are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Also, they say that if you do it at midnight, it is even better. Trust me, and this is only a myth. I have bought cheap flights to Europe even on Friday day time. I have searched them again at any time and never found such a good deal as the one I paid for. This is definitely something I would say that is more of a lottery.
Some time ago, a study run by CheapAir.com said that the best day to buy cheap flights is 54 days before your flight. According to the own article, this number is not arbitrary, and it may vary according to the destination. Some other sites establish a chart according to which region of the world you are traveling. For example, if you are flying either to Europe or Asia, you must book your flights 4 to 6 months in advance. Once again, all that I have said until now consist on numbers, percentage, and probability. Now I will talk about real experiences. When I look for a cheap flight to Europe, I enter different travel search engines and write down my destination. I decided to add some silly screenshots to illustrate this better.
* These tricks are done starting with San Juan Airport (SJU) as a local airport since it is the closest to me. You can try them using your local airport. This was done on Kayak, but it can be replicated with any travel search engine.
Getting into Kayak to check cheap flights to Europe
Here we can see the main page of Kayak. You can start doing your search for cheap flights to Europe. Like you can see, I chose the Roundtrip option. I am looking for an *imaginary ticket* to Baku, Azerbaijan, for December. Another thing that I made sure of was to make my dates flexible. That way, I could compare how the prices go up and down each day. To make the comparison even bigger, I also chose the option to compare Kayak prices with other search engines. Once you have clicked the search button, the other search engines will appear in different windows, and your Kayak window will look like this:
You can see that first appears a window that gives you the fares for all the days you asked for. It shows the cheapest option in green. On the second image, I opened the details of one of the flights to compare with the rest of the search engines.
Here I opened another search engine which is Cheapoair.com. As you may appreciate, here I found that the option given by Turkish Airlines is cheaper than the one given by Kayak. I repeat the same process with the other search engines to check the options they are giving me. The next step is checking the price that I can get buying directly from the airline. In the case of this flight, Turkish Airlines on their website doesn’t allow me to start the search from San Juan, and Jet Blue does not allow me to search going to Baku. In this case, I would have to stay with the fare option of $979 to get to Baku (by the way, it is pretty good!) or do another trick that I have learned with time and that I will illustrate flying *on my imagination” somewhere else.
Looking for something else…
Now, *on my imagination* on those same dates, I am going to Oslo, Norway, and repeat the same process I did before.
I found this in Kayak, and that fare doesn’t really make me happy considering the number of stops it has. Neither the rest of the search engines offer something that makes me happy. I have developed a little technique to avoid suffering this: create my own stops. Now I will explain this in detail (Once again, remember that this is traveling from San Juan, but it may work for other places)
I repeat the search on Kayak.com with a little difference. Instead of looking for a flight from San Juan, I decided to look for one from JFK.
Searching cheap flights to Europe from JFK
In this case, I eliminated the flights with stops on purpose. I focus on the non-stop flights from JFK to Oslo on purpose to compare this price. Roundtrip. I guess you guys already understood that I really love Norwegian Airways.
Now you must be wondering, how do I get from San Juan to JFK. Two airlines fly San Juan-JFK more than 3 times daily each: Delta and JetBlue. You only need to choose your favorite (or the cheapest). I won’t illustrate this part of the search, but I will give you the prices for each offer. On JetBlue, you can fly from about $300-$350. When it comes to Delta, it should be something around $380-$435. Let’s imagine you choose JetBlue. The total of flying to Oslo would be $891. Notice you have to make your stops with at least a 2 hours difference to be careful.
Now you may say, “in your search from San Juan to Oslo, there were flights from $831”. That’s true, is a $60 difference. But when you think about it, stops may be a lot more expensive than $60. Everything is more expensive in an airport. Naturally, when you’re on a layover, you can feel hungry, anxious. You can find something you really like in one of the airport stores. If you think about it, those expenses can fluctuate between $100 and $1000. By minimizing your stops, you are making sure you will get one or two meals included in the price when planning your international flights; you have to consider these details to save a little more.
I guess that after reading this, NO ONE can tell me that flying to Scandinavia is way too expensive. I am sure it won’t be that hard to book one of the best hostels in Copenhagen if you do that! This is something I had already mastered and understood. Those have equivalences in other destinations that I will be showing you later. I hope this article becomes useful and soon I will be giving you more tips for saving for your trips.