Booking an international flight can be quite costly if you’re not careful. Check out these helpful tips for booking your international flight so you can save as much money as possible. Our hope is to free up a little more cash for you so you can fully take advantage of all that your destination has to offer.
1. Make sure your passport and visa issues are all squared away
Before you spend a dime or input your credit card information, make sure you’re good to go with your travel documents as it pertains to your trip. Remember, with passports, some countries require it to be valid up to 6 months AFTER your travel date. Example, if your trip to London is on April 10, 2016 and you return at the end of April but your passport expires on May 25. 2016… you definitely need to renew your passport.
2. Research and buy tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
The best time to buy is typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Airfares tend to be the cheapest on these days of the week but do your research week to week if you have time and are well away from your travel date.
3. Look at and compare prices on as many websites as possible.
There are a ton of places out there to get decent prices on airfare. A lot of the time, the best prices depending on how flexible you can be with departure times, days, and long layovers. Some of our favorite sites are CheapOair, kayak, skiplagged, Google flights, and Ryanair (for great flights in and around Europe). Kayak in particular does a good job of comparing the best flights/prices across several sites like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. Once you’ve found a flight you’re happy with, run it against Skyscanner as the last check to make sure you’re getting the best price.
4. Go Incognito during your search
These days, search engines are pretty crafty and know when you’re trying to compare prices. As a result, since they know you’re searching, you may not always find lower prices, especially when looking at the same dates/destinations over and over. Take measures like turning on incognito browsing, clearing your search history, deleting cookies, etc. You can even go so far as to search flights from different computers (library, school, friends laptop).
5. Embrace the layover
Layovers can be a pain but they can significantly lower your airfare. Depending on the length and time of day of your layover, you can even get some abbreviated exploration at your layover destination. Travel experience within the travel experience.
6. Buy well in advance
The farther in advance you buy your flight the better, in most cases. Booking around the holidays may be an exception as families/friends tend to be together and make plans to travel this time of year. Otherwise, the closer you get to your travel date, airfare will gradually increase. If you aren’t able to book months and months in advance, 6-8 weeks from your departure date is usually the best time to buy.
7. Check out the baggage policies
Make sure to do your research about checked baggage policies. A lot of time, international flights have different policies than the ones we are used to on our domestic flights. It may be beneficial to pre-pay for checked baggage services in advance. A lot of airlines can jack up the price and hammer you with increased fees once you are at the airport.
Do you have any tips of your own for booking an international flight? Let us know if we missed anything!
Last updated on March 15, 2020. Original post from March 15, 2016.