Ways to save on international airfare

I love the fact that we are a global family: I'm from the Philippines, Alfie is from the UK, we both migrated to the US (with Alfie stopping over Australia first!) to live and raise our family.  Our kids are American, with relatives from all over the world. As a result, all the kids love visiting new countries and learning about their unique cultures.  International travel is truly one of the most enjoyable and eye-opening activities any family can do, and I highly recommend it!

The downside of all this is our travel budget; Alfie and I try to alternate visiting our folks every year.  One year we'll fly to the UK to spend the summer, and the next year we'll spend the holidays in the Philippines.  With 3 kids all and that distance to go, our holiday and leisure budget is completely consumed by international airfare!  I'm always on the lookout for ways to save on our plane tickets, so this article sent to me by Vayama, an online travel agency focused on international travel, really caught my attention.  They list seven ways families can save on international airfare:

1) Travel Midweek
International travel deals are entirely based on availability and since most people travel over the weekend (Friday & Saturday); you will find the cheapest international airfare deals if you travel midweek, usually departing and returning on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

2) Spend Saturday Night
Business travelers fly home on the weekend, so most discounted international airfare deals require a Saturday night stay. So be prepared to spend Saturday at your destination.

3) Don’t book too Early or Too Late
When it comes to cheap international airfares, you have to follow the Goldilocks rule: Don’t book too early or too late. We all know that an international ticket booked with less than 3 days notice will be very expensive, but it will also be pricy if you book too far in advance. Most airlines start competing for passengers around three to four months before departure; this is known as the “Goldilocks Zone”. Search for your international airfare about three to five months out and you will be in the best position to hit the international airfare deal jackpot.

4) Fly Through the Side Door
If your desired destination is sold out or too expensive, try flying out of a secondary international airport (Boston vs JFK or San Francisco vs Los Angeles). The same works with your destination airports; If London is sold out or too expensive, try Brussels, Amsterdam or even Stuttgart. You can use the savings to book a low cost inter Europe flight to London or you can jump on the Eurostar train from Paris or Brussels.

5) Fly Seasonally
Most budget travelers never fly during high season. They take advantage of the lower airfares and decent weather during the ‘shoulder season’. Europe’s fall shoulder season starts around September 15th and extends until the middle of November. It’s spring shoulder season starts in mid February and extends until the end of April. For the cheapest deals to New Zealand and Australia, fly in mid August, their fall and winters are quite mild and still allow you to enjoy the many outdoor adventures available Down Under. For Asia, fly from late September through November to get the lowest airfare deals. South America’s low season is anytime it’s not Christmas, New Year’s, Carnival or a school holiday.

6) Use the Multiple Flights Function
Vayama has a ‘multiple flights’ function on it’s ‘find a flight’ box. It’s a good idea to use it because it may be cheaper to fly into one city and return from another (for example; New York to London, returning from Amsterdam). Play around with different combinations and save.

7) Add a Stopover and Save
Direct flights (those with one stop) are also cheaper than nonstop flights, particularly when you fly long haul. For example the fares for a New York to Johannesburg flight will be cheaper on airlines that add a stopover (usually in Europe, Africa or the Middle East) versus the nonstop option from New York. The same applies to long haul flights to Asia. One stop in Seoul or Taipei could shave hundreds of dollars off an India trip when compared to nonstop flights.

I can personally vouch for tip #1, 2, 3 and 5.  Flying off-season is probably your biggest way to save -- it can mean a 40% reduction in price versus peak season fares!  Bottom line: it never hurts to be flexible with dates and total travel time.

Thanks to Vayama for the tips -- and have a happy international trip!

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. Information is provided by the featured company/product and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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1 Comments, Leave yours here:

Heather! on July 5, 2012 at 4:24 AM said...

I live between the U.S. and Ireland...and I hear ya about airfare being a killer! I also use some of these tricks, but I didn't realize you could save by choosing different cities to fly through. I need to book again soon, so I'll try that one. THANKS!!

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