That was crazy. My girlfriend and I recently booked a ton of flights around the world. We needed to get from Europe to South America, then travel all around South America before heading to the USA and back to Europe before I fly off to India in mid-February.
It’s not usually how we travel – to have 3 months planned out and booked before we arrive – but this time, it was the option that worked best given our tight schedule.
Our Flights Around the World
When we finished all the bookings, I didn’t know what to do. Celebrate? Sleep? Shower?
Here’s what we booked:
– Barcelona to Miami
– Fort Lauderdale to Quito
– Quito to Rio de Janeiro
– Rio de Janeiro to Ushuaia
– Ushuaia to Buenos Aires
– Buenos Aires to Santiago
– Uyuni, Bolivia to La Paz
– Cusco, Peru to Bogota, Colombia
– Bogota to Medellin, Colombia
– Medellin to Fort Lauderdale
– Fort Lauderdale to London
– London to Budapest
– Budapest to Delhi
At first glance, it would certainly be understandable to think that the above 13 flights around the world cost us an absolute fortune in total. I still have a difficult time looking at all those flights and not thinking that myself.
However, while that colorful array of air journeys certainly didn’t cost $200, the grand total of those trips…
That’s an average of about $169 per flight. Some of those trips are 1 hour long, others are 14 hours and the rest are in between. And in the end, those flights will take us to 4 different continents over a period of almost 3 months. That’s remarkably inexpensive if you think of what we’re getting for that amount of money.
(I know a lot of people use Skyscanner and Momondo but I’ve personally never found a cheaper fare on either of those websites.)
#2. Play around with dates and destinations.
Since my plans are rarely 100% set in stone, I always play around with various dates. I also play around with different orders of the destinations. For example, with our flight from Medellin to Fort Lauderdale, changing the date by one day reduced the price by $90. Going from Rio de Janeiro to Ushuaia and then to Buenos Aires was $150 cheaper than going from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. Flexibility is key!
#3. Grouping flights / Multi-city flights
I always try to group flights together. On this South America trip, booking separate flights was more expensive than grouping together Rio to Ushuaia, Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires to Santiago. Grouping those three together in a multi-city search saved us $200. (But booking Uyuni to La Paz, Bolivia was much cheaper on its own. That flight cost $85. When grouped with other flights, it increased the overall price by $130.)
From Cusco, Peru to Medellin, Colombia, it was also much cheaper to group two separate one-way tickets together than to book one complete ticket all the way through. By booking Cusco to Bogota and then Bogota to Medellin, we saved $110.
Here’s another great example: I once needed to fly from Budapest to NYC. The cost of the one-way flight was $650 at the time. I then decided to try and group it together with another flight I knew I needed to take 4 months later – Miami to Delhi. The airfare went down to $625, total! I ended up with two long-distance flights for the price of one.
Grouping random flights is one of the best methods for reducing airfares in my experience.
#4. Check the airline’s website
Once I find the lowest fare from the websites listed above, I’ll generally visit the specific airline’s website to see what they offer directly. Sometimes, the fare is the same or even lower. When that’s the case, I book it on the airline’s website as this takes away the middleman and is much easier to deal with, especially if there’s an issue at some point.
However, sometimes, as was the case with LATAM Ecuador, the fares on their website were MUCH higher than what we could get on Kayak for the same flights. In these instances, I definitely go with Kayak or Orbitz or whichever site offers the lowest fare. While it’s convenient to book directly with the airline, it’s not usually worth a few hundred extra dollars to do so!
If it’s a multi-city/grouped flight, it depends on whether it involves one or multiple airlines. If it’s one airline, it can be booked on the airline’s website and if it’s multiple airlines, it usually needs to be booked through the site offering the deal.
#5. Different languages
Our flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to London Gatwick is with Norwegian Airlines. I saved $37 by going to Norwegian Airline’s Swedish website versus using their English-language website, where the same flight was more expensive.
It’s a little tricky since there are often dozens of different languages you could test for each airline. But I will generally try a couple of versions, usually the native language of the airline and another country nearby, just to see if there is any difference in airfare.
#6. Discount codes
I’ve started doing this with anything I purchase online. Before I confirm the purchase, I’ll do a Google search for the name of the website or company followed by the words ‘discount code’. Something like “TAP Portugal discount code”.
Every now and then I find something that works. Maybe it’s $10 savings, maybe it’s 10% or more. All it takes is a few seconds and you could end up saving some money so it doesn’t hurt to try!
It Takes Time to Find the Best Airfares
Finding good airfares is not really complicated. Sure, there are some tricks involved, but it really just requires time. Search, compare, tweak dates, tweak destinations, group flights together, search again…and again and again.
But if you simply don’t like searching for flights, you might not want to spend as much time as I do looking for deals. I usually spend what my girlfriend describes as ‘way too much time’ trying to find cheaper fares. In the case of our 13 flights around the world above, it really did take us a solid 3 days, searching about 3 hours per day, until we finalized everything.
But we did save over $1200 each based on the total price we started with from our initial searches. I’ll take a $1200 savings any day for a few hours of work over a 3 day period!
The extra research also led to more direct flights, shorter layovers and better departure and arrival times. For me, the extra research is worth it even if all I get is a later flight that doesn’t require me to wake up at 4:00am. Also, I landed three flights in premium economy class (it was cheaper than regular economy for some reason), a bonus I certainly won’t turn down!
With all of this traveling, things can indeed go wrong of course. Common issues such as flight delays can really throw off your plans. That’s why it’s a very wise idea to be aware of your rights as a passenger when flying and to know what you’re owed in case your flight is delayed or even cancelled. The good news is that there are now websites which can help you claim for the compensation you’re entitled to so that you don’t need to deal with the stress of figuring it all out on your own.
I once had my luggage lost for 3 days when flying with Turkish Airlines from the USA to Ukraine and I had to buy clothes and toiletries while waiting for my luggage to arrive. Knowing that I would be compensated and how to get compensated was important as I didn’t want to waste even more time dealing with the situation.
What’s the best flight deals you’ve ever found? Any advice to add?
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We learn something new everyday! Thanks for this article Derek!!
3 years ago I discovered this thing called “Around The World Air Fares”. I’m from South America but based in New Zealand and I needed to go to Italy to do my Italian Citizenship. In the end, I needed to build a fare that would cover NZ – Argentina – Italy – NZ. This is how I found that when you hit the jackpot of flight combinations you can actually take many long-haul flights at pretty much the same cost of a return fare.
To do this, I got a travel agent that helped me build the fares and kindly added China to our itinerary (it was a free long stopover, so we stayed for a whole week).
We ended up paying $ 1600 for the whole thing ( NZ – Argentina – Italy – China – NZ). The trip was 4.5 months long.
In 3 weeks we are leaving once again, and this time we booked the following flights:
NZ – Chile – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Bangkok – Indonesia – NZ
$ 1500 USD (not exactly as we purchase in NZD: $ 2225).
the trip will be nearly 4 months long.
I found this combination on Momondo.com. Then sent it to my travel agent who actually asked me to give him some time to confirm with his manager as these flights were too cheap for the types of routes.
A few comments on this:
– If it wasn’t ’cause I’m based in NZ and I’m an expat, I’d try to fly less or just stick to one continent.
– I always consult with my travel agent ’cause it’s easy for him to double check convenient routes (sometimes he advises me to purchase on Skyscanner if he can’t beat the fare).
– I know it’s still a lot of money, as I’m a digital nomad I’m grateful I get to do things this way. On the other hand, if you think about it, you could easily spend the same amount of $$$ on a return trip.
– I do my best to travel offseason.
Oki doki, I just kinda went overboard with this but, I do hope it helps! Remember… Around The World fares.
Dude… Your Norwegian air different language tip just saved me a decent chunk of change on a flight I’ll be taking from LAX to Barcelona later in the year! You basically just bought me dinner, lol. Thanks!
Hey Ryan – That’s awesome to hear! Hope you have an excellent trip to Spain!
I don’t understand what you mean by grouping flights. Could you explain that?
Hey Susan – By grouping flights I simply mean buying several flights together. Let’s say I’m in South America and I know that I need to fly from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires in a month, then from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile 3 weeks later and from Santiago to Quito, Ecuador two weeks after that.
Option 1: I could search for and book each of those flights separately. This would lead to three separate bookings and three separate airfares.
Option 2: I could also group the flights together. So when I open a website like Kayak.com, I choose ‘multi-city search’ and I enter all three of the flights/dates that I’m looking for. It will then show me options to buy all three flights at the same time with just one price that covers all three. In many cases, this one price will be less than what I would pay if I booked each flight separately. I would then have only 1 booking for 1 price that contains 3 separate flights.
Let me know if that makes sense!
Wow. I didn’t know that was possible. Thank you.
Great article. I love the DISCOUNT CODE tip. Thanks for sharing and safe travels.
Derek this is a fabulous job. Amazing how we see the world and enjoy it immensely while circling the globe on the cheap. My wife scores hot deals with some of these tips; checking prices frequently helps those big time bargains to arise.
Nice! I bet it does feel strange booking so much in one go. But at the same time, it’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the trip. I can’t believe you get flights cheaper for going on the native site though, that seems crazy to me. Excellent tip!