How To Find International Flights for Less Than $300
The most expensive thing about travel is the actual travel.
Planes, trains, and Uber can really add up. Many people feel that travel is unaffordable. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets, I can see where that mindset is coming from, but it doesn’t have to be so expensive. What if I told you I’ve never spent more than 300 dollars on a plane ticket? Not even once. Not only that, but I’ve never spent more than 300 dollars on a plane ticket from America to Europe.
I flew first class from Oslo, Norway to Miami, Florida for less than 250 dollars. I drank bloody mary’s and wine the entire flight while my dog slept between my feet.
At 19 years old, I bought a one way plane ticket to Denmark after learning how to find cheap flights reading a blog post much like this one. (I owe the woman that wrote that just about everything). The only reason I chose Denmark is because it was the cheapest place to fly into. Yay, Copenhagen. This was the first time I surrendered to chance, and it paid off tenfold.
No matter your age, have a seat, because this is going to be a lot of information that will surely help you find the cheapest plane ticket you’ve ever purchased. If you don’t have time to read this now, bookmark it, or save this to Pinterest for later reading.
To find a great price on a plane ticket:
Plan around your plane ticket choice instead of planning your ticket around a trip.
Book in advance.
Consider connecting flights.
Use discount websites to find the best price.
Check out Norwegian Air.
Buy one way at a time.
Turn on incognito browsing and delete all cookies.
Only bring a carry on.
I will walk you through each one of these tips to your cheap flight. Keep in mind, a cheap flight is a combination of these things. If you find a flight for $100 dollars and then rack up baggage fees, it won’t end up being a $100 dollar flight anymore. Each one of these small travel hacks will add up to big savings.
1. Plan around your plane ticket choice instead of planning your ticket around a trip.
You might be a little confused by this. Hang tight. I’m about to spell it out.
When planning any kind of trip, usually the first thing anyone does is actually plan the trip. Then, when they know where and when, they start looking at flights. Other than having a very specific event to go to, the only reason we plan this way is because this is the planning that has been modeled for us by our current society, (or at least mine). However, this is NOT the way to find a cheap flight. I can understand if you are traveling for a specific event. Maybe a friend of yours is getting married. Even still, there’s no reason you have to arrive at the exact time every one else is arriving. If you’re still in planning mode, I’m so glad we found each other, because I’m going to change your mind about the way you plan.
First of all, the most expensive and sometimes inconvenient part of travel is the actual travel. Second, there’s not a bad time to visit Paris. What I mean is, if you research the cheapest time to travel and go then, you are still going to have a ball at your destination, and you’ll arguably have an even better time with more money to spent on experiences at your destination. No matter where you’re thinking about going, it will still be there if you fly in on the cheapest flight.
If you are in planning mode or just trying to figure out your next trip, I strongly suggest finding a cheap flight first. Let that flight determine when you’re leaving, for how long, and even where to. If this scares you, relax. You don’t have to actually buy the ticket. Just put some feelers out. If you spend some time researching, your fears may subside once you realize how much easier booking the ticket first will be. You meet even be inclined to visit a country you’ve never been to!
The very first time I flew out of the country by myself, I was 19. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and super depressed. I made myself vulnerable in the best way by booking the cheapest plane ticket I could find, THEN making travel plans. I ended up living with the most amazing people in Denmark. I would have never met them had I not surrendered to the whims of the Universe in this way.
Are you less trusting of where the wind will take you? That’s alright. Read on for more ways to book a flight for less than $300.
2. Book In advance
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but it bears repeating.
There are a lot of oddly specific pieces of advice around when to book a ticket. I once read that a flight is cheapest on the Tuesday six weeks before it departs. For some reason, I trusted this advice and waited to book a $170 dollar ticket I found. Do you know what happened? The price went up more than $100.
The best time to buy a ticket is when it’s cheap! That’s it. There’s nothing special about it or any crazy rules to follow.
If you are ticket shopping and find one you want, don’t wait. Just buy it. More than likely, the only direction the price will go is up.
More than two months out is generally when I book my flights. Any closer than two months, and I find the prices start to increase.
If you’re looking to find a flight within two months, I have more travel hacks on this list that will help you out.
3. Be flexible
Have you heard this advice before?
Honestly, I’ve had this advice given to me, and it’s a little vague. What does it mean to be flexible?
Taking this advice to heart, I’ve learned how to apply this to travel in a way that is helpful.
Be flexible about when you leave.
Be flexible about where you land.
Be flexible about when you arrive.
Be flexible about the luggage you bring.
Generally, cheap flights are red-eye flights. (Be flexible about when you leave). Also, maybe you have friends flying to the same place, but you’re on a budget. Don’t be afraid to book a different flight. When flying to Vegas for a friends birthday, I politely let her know I wouldn’t be using her travel agent, and I’d find my own flights. I ended up flying to Colorado (be flexible about where you land), taking a long layover to visit Denver, smoked my first puff of legal weed, had the BEST hot chocolate of my life, and then I still made it to Vegas cheaper than if I’d flown with my friend.
This story encompasses all aspects of being flexible. One of the flights I booked only allowed carry-ons. (Be flexible about the luggage you bring). So, I thought, no problem. I packed for a week in Vegas in an small day pack. It was a fun challenge, and it worked out. Also, I was the only one in my group that had packed appropriately! I had all the gear I needed in my small backpack compared to the other girls that brought giant suitcases and didn’t prioritize necessities.
I ended up arriving an entire day before before my group did, and I was fine with that. (Be flexible about when you arrive). I had an awesome time with my Couchsurfing host, and I was able to explore the city a little bit before they arrived.
4. Consider connecting flights.
There are two ways to look into connecting flights.
The first is to be open to flights with layovers. This is pretty simple. Many sites have a box to check for “direct flights only.“ Just don’t check this box, and find out if any of the flights with layovers and connections are cheaper. Often times you can find a better deal.
The second way to find a connecting flight is manually compare the prices to shorter flights to and from different airport and different airlines. For example, you could fly to New York City from Charlotte, then look for a flight from New York City to Rome. I almost always fly this way. Flights out of my hometown, Charlotte, are much more expensive than flights from a few states over, and I’ve saved hundreds, probably thousands, flying this way.
5. Use discount websites to find the best price
We’ve all heard of booking.com or Kayak, but these websites are actually not so cheap. The best websites I’ve used to find incredibly discounted fares are:
Below I elaborate on how I use Norwegian Air as my preferred airline to find cheap flights.
6. Check out Norwegian Air
Are you ready to meet your new favorite airline?
Norwegian Air is all about amazing service at the lowest possible price.
Mainly Norwegian Air flies to and from North America and Europe. If you are looking for a flight to or from these two continents, Norwegian Air is about to become your new best friend, and, no, they don’t sponsor me. This love is from the heart, not the wallet.
I discovered Norwegian Air through pinterest of all places, and I actually bought a plane ticket through the recommendation of a woman on the internet. Many thanks to her and the thousands of dollars she has saved me. My love affair for Norwegian Air started when I bought a ticket from Florida to Copenhagen for 180 dollars and then again when I got on the plane to the happiest country in the world. They are able to charge such low prices by leaving out the frills. The price of baggage, food, and just about everything is not built in. You’re just paying for the flight. If you want amenities, those are extra.
This is how to find ultra cheap Norwegian Air tickets.
First of all, most of their ticket prices are well below the average price for an international flight. They’re not here to rip you off. So, finding the cheapest flight of the cheap flights is really the objective. First, determine where your end goal might be. If you’re flying into Europe, a connecting flight within Europe is incredibly cheap, so, it might pay off to be flexible on the airport you choose to fly to. The most expensive plane ticket will be the international one. Cut costs by focusing on getting as close to your destination for as cheap as possible. Shorter distance travel to get the rest of the way to your destination will be more affordable. For example, if you’re flying from America to Europe and you want to go to Italy, just focus on getting somewhere near Italy. Don’t fret about actually landing in Italy.
Check to see which airports near you Norwegian Air flies out of. For example, I live in North Carolina. The airports nearest me they fly out of are DC, New York City, and Florida. Once you have determined which airports are closest to you, price shop which one is cheapest for your destination. Pick a day and an airport to fly into. It doesn’t really matter which day or which airport for this exercise. Just a day nearish to when you might fly and a destination nearish to where you are going.
Now, compare the price of a ticket from the possible airports to fly from. For me, I would look at flights out of New York City, and Florida. Sometimes Florida is cheaper. Sometimes New York City is cheaper. Now, let’s say I’ve discovered New York is a little cheaper to fly from right now.
Let’s also say I want to go to Italy. Because it is NORWEGIAN Air, flights to Scandinavia are usually the cheapest. The first thing I’m going to do is search flights from New York to Copenhagen.
You can see I’ve made sure to click the one-way button, and I’ve also checked Show Low Fare Calendar. The Low Fare Calendar shows the ticket price for every single day of the month, and it shows the cheapest flights in red.
I like to check flights a couple months out, and then flights around fall. Tickets are a little more expensive during the summer. If you don’t have a trip completely planned yet, it is worth checking out ticket prices for fall.
The lowest price listed is for May 12th at 164.90. Now that I’ve checked New York to Copenhagen, I’m going to compare those prices to New York to Rome.
Here I also have one-way clicked and Show Low Fare Calendar.
Now that you’ve compared the prices above, you can see that in this instance, it’s cheaper to fly into Copenhagen. Now, if you want to spend a few more dollars and go straight to Rome, you absolutely should go for. When I travel with my dog, Ava, it is important to fly into a country I’m intending to go to. When I travel alone, I don’t mind taking multiple flights if it saves a few dollars.
The next thing you’re going to check is flights on Ryanair. That’s Europe’s dirt cheap airline. Now, this airline feels like riding on a dirt cheap airline. It’s not high-class, but it is very inexpensive.
In this picture, I’ve looked at flight using RyanAir from Copenhagen to Rome. It’s only $49.30, so the total price of getting to Italy from New York would be $214.20. Pretty good deal. Keep in mind that you’ve now been given the opportunity to explore a city you otherwise didn’t have on your radar. Copenhagen is really cool, and you could have a daytrip and explore Nyhavn or the fun anarchist town of Christiania.
You can apply these tactics to any of the low-cost airlines and any departure and destination using Norwegian Air.
7. Buy one way at a time
When searching for flights, there are many, many options. To guarantee you’re getting the best price, you’ll need to be able to zoom out and see the larger picture of where the costs are coming from. No matter where you’re going, it’s almost always cheaper to buy one way at a time. Airlines don’t typically bundle the costs of two flights, but they sometimes show the cost of a round-trip flight as one price. When they do this, it’s impossible to tell if you’re getting a good deal or if one of the flights is overpriced. More than likely, one of the flights in a round-trip search will come up very over-priced.
Also, keep in mind that many websites will book two flights from the same airline.
This seems reasonable, but there’s a strong possibility that it will be cheaper to do some airline shopping. The only way to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price is to compare different airlines, websites, and departures times when searching in “One-Way" mode.
8. turn on incognito browsing and delete all cookies
Every time you search, Google and other companies collect data about you to make a prediction about you and sell to you better.
If you’ve been searching all about Rome for the past week and they you go to purchase a plane ticket, the airline company is already way ahead of you. They know you’re invested, and they can charge a premium for that. Ticket prices will actually go up the more you search for them.
I’ve had this happen to me before, and I’ve since learned that it’s best to open an Incognito window, clear the cookies living on your computer, and then start your search.
9. only bring a carry on
There are a handful of reasons to strive for being a carry-on traveler.
The first, you won’t be at the mercy of the airline keeping track of your luggage. I’ve *knock on wood* never had my luggage lost, but it happens. There’s a peace that accompanies having all your belongings with you on the plane, and you don’t have to wait in line to grab your checked baggage. I once had to wait for two hours for my checked baggage while I had Ava, my dog, with me. Wow. That was a long two hours.
Second, your travel options will expand greatly when you only have one bag. When searching for discounted flights, sometimes you can only book a super cheap flight if you only have a carry-on. For example, let’s say a flight is on it’s way to London from Charlotte. The flight path could include a stopover in Colorado. If you just want to get to Colorado, the airline will sell very cheap tickets for the flight just from Charlotte to Colorado. Because you aren’t going on the way to London and most of the other passengers are, any checked luggage will also end up in London. So, if you opt for just a carry-on, you can take advantage of these discounted flights.
Third, budget airlines like Norwegian Air don’t include the price of a checked bag with the ticket. Now, the tickets are so cheap that it’s perfectly reasonable to pay a little bit extra for a checked bag. However, you could save a few extra dollars by opting for just the carry-on. I’ve found that sometimes airlines with be slightly lenient with baggage size or weight if they know you only have a carry-on. Please don’t solely count of this, but I once packed a daypack so perfectly that the airline didn’t even weight it even though it was probably over the weight limit.
Book That Flight
You’re on my website reading about how to find cheap plane tickets, so I assume you’re thinking of going somewhere.
The one thing you absolutely will run out of isn’t money, it’s time. So, spend your time living your best life.
I heard the quote, “What if when we die, we meet the person we could have become?” The version of you that travels, pushes their comfort zone, and does scary, amazing things is the person you can become. What are we but a collection of experiences and memories?
Go have those experiences.
Make some new memories.