Cheap International Plane Tickets
The best place to buy cheap international plane tickets is
online. We've tried travel agencies and they can't compete with
the discount ticket web sites. You can search google ("cheap
airfare south america", for example), or go straight to
one of the well-known sites, like Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap
Tickets, Hotwire or Priceline.
I just did a quick search for the cheapest airfare from Tucson,
Arizona, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, using the five sites mentioned.
They ranged from $1221 down to $873, and there were fares as
high as $3728. Hotwire happened to have the cheapest, but they
were the worst of the five when I searched a domestic flight
while researching the page "Really
Cheap Plane Tickets." You cannot say which service will
find the cheapest international plane tickets from week to week.
My number one money-saving tip is to always check several web
sites when shopping for inexpensive flights.
My Accidental $1000 Discovery
Before going to Ecuador, I searched several web sites that
deal in cheap international plane tickets. The cheapest airfare
from Traverse City, Michigan to Quito, was $1720. Out of curiosity,
I checked Miami to Quito, and it was only $400. Airfare from
Traverse City to Miami was $300. Book two separate flights and
save more than $1000! The discount sites aren't set up to check
in this way (yet), so you have to do this on your own.
If your first flight is late and you miss the second, you
may not get a refund, but it is still cheaper to just
book a flight to Miami and catch a flight to Quito without
a reservation, thus avoiding this problem. This strategy is best
for those in towns without international airports. If you live
in Miami, you already have cheap international airfare.
As an air courier, you can get really cheap international
plane tickets. Courier companies ship material in the luggage
space of an aircraft passenger because it can be quicker, cheaper,
and more reliable than sending the shipment unaccompanied, since
checked luggage bypasses many of the typical customs delays.
The courier company begins by purchasing airfare, and then they
resell the plane tickets to you. In exchange for your luggage
space, they give you a discount on the airfare.
I saved over $150 on my plane tickets this way when I went
to Ecuador the first time. I had to walk several suitcases of
car parts through customs, but there was a representative of
the courier company on either end, and I did get to look
inside the luggage, so I knew what I was carrying. I had to carry
a plane propeller on the return trip, but it wasn't too much
trouble, and made a good story.
Limitations To Courier Travel
You generally can only be an air courier if you travel alone.
Once in a while, a courier company will have opportunities for
flights on or near the same date. Otherwise, your travel partner
can pay full fare on the same flight. You also can usually only
bring carry-on luggage, since the point is for the shipping company
to use your checked luggage allowance. See the page on How
To Travel Light for tips on this.
Really Cheap Courier Flights
Sometimes air couriers fly internationally for free, and usually
very cheap. It is a matter of how badly the company needs you
and how flexible you can be (can you fly to Paris on Friday?).
In general air courier opportunities are becoming rarer, due
to the recent heavier regulation of international flights. There
still are opportunities for cheap tickets, though.
More Tips On Cheap International Plane Tickets
When searching for fares using the discount web sites, try
several different departure and return dates if you can. The
difference of a day or two can save you a lot. There is little
logic to airfare pricing, so don't try too hard to figure it
out. Just be aware that if you leave on Friday instead of Wednesday
(or vice-versa), you may save $100.
Check the boxes that say "any time" for departure
and "2 or more connecting flights". Even if you aren't
sure that you want to leave at midnight, see what your options
are-the savings might change your mind. Whenever the search criteria
allow you choices, take the ones that are the least restrictive
for the airlines. Again, if the savings aren't enough, you can
always book first class, direct flights, or whatever you prefer.
Buying your plane tickets at least a week in advance is usually
cheaper. Also, there can be a dramatic difference (but not always)
if your trip is over thirty days. You may want to cut it from
32 days to 30 to save hundreds of dollars on your fare. Play
with the dates on one of the web sites mentioned. You never know
what you might discover.
Want To Go Really Cheap?
You can take a bus to a major city, if you don't live in one,
and then take an international flight from there to save quite
a bit of money. My wife and I recently went to Ecuador for six
weeks. The cheapest discount website plane tickets we could find
were $3400 for the two of us. By taking a bus to Miami ($352
round-trip for 2), then flying from there to Quito ($622 round-trip
for 2), we saved over $2400 - even after the taxi fare from the
bus station to the airport. That's a lot of money to us, certainly
worth an extra day-and-a-half on a bus. (The whole six weeks
cost less than $2500.)
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