So Mike and I recently had the chance to spend about five days in Paris and it. was. incredible. The food, the sights, the museums, the people, the energy — everything about it was beyond my wildest dreams. You can read more about that trip here.
A couple years ago, we had the chance to go to St. Petersburg, Russia where Mike served a two-year mission for our church. Which was also an unbelievably cool trip (and also one I never would have dared to take without a fluent Russian speaker).
Now, we are not rich. Not by a LONG shot. But we were able to do both of those trips for a much more reasonable price with a few easy hacks.
FIRST STEP: Flights
For a while I was following EVERYTHING to try to find good deals. Airfare Watchdog, Cheapo Air, Kayak alerts, Skyscanner, Hopper, Travelzoo, you name it. But here are the sights where I’ve been able to physically find real live actual deals. And for the record, I am NOT in any way, shape, or form a big enough deal to be getting paid for this endorsement, so take that for what it’s worth.
Scott’s Cheap Flights – By far my favorite and the most consistently awesome place to find cheap flights. There’s a free version and a subscriber version. I used both the free version for a while and decided the deals it was sending me were worth paying extra for more and I LOVE it. Their email newsletter is also straightforward and walks you through how and where to find the deals.
Flights From Home – If you aren’t based in Utah, this site is your jam. The lady that runs this Instagram account is my spirit animal. She’s always posting amazing deals, and she’s broken it out into separate accounts by major city (She’s got Flights From Home SLC, Flights from Home SoCal, Las Vegas, Denver, San Fran and Portland so far). I think I’ve told everyone I know who flies out of Salt Lake to follow this gal. Seriously — the best.
Secret Flying – This is where a friend of ours found our Paris flight. They send out a daily email newsletter in the afternoons. They also have an Instagram account, but a lot of times the deals just aren’t applicable to me (sorry – I’m just don’t need to see great deals from Luxembourg to Sri Lanka). They also walk you through step by step how and where to find these deals, which is nice.
A couple more tips to consider…
Tip #1: Be flexible
Both on the time of year for your travel and for your location to some degree. If you are desperately hunting for a flight to Spain the 2nd weekend in September out of Newark on Delta, it will be undoubtedly be trickier to find. But say your only plan is “Europe in the summer” or “somewhere tropical this winter,” you’ll find you have more options. If you are willing to be flexible on a) when you go, b) where you go, c) which relatively nearby U.S. airport you fly out of, and d) which airline you fly, the possibilities are wide open.
Tip #2: Expect layovers
Don’t hate me for this. Actually I kind of hate myself for writing it a little bit. Because I HATE layovers. My husband will attest to this. I didn’t actually get excited for our trip to Paris until we were on our 3rd and final flight over there because I was SO STRESSED about missing our connections! United also shortened our layover in Denver from almost 3 hours to only 30 minutes AFTER we’d already booked the flight, but you know, they’ve done worse things lately…
That being said, cheap travel is cheap travel. For me, it’s worth having a layover (or two) and a few more gray hairs on my head if it means a few more dollars to spend on food or sights once we get there, or a future trip!
Hope that helps get you in the right direction and on an airplane somewhere AMAZING. We are still new at international travel, but we are quickly falling in love with it and trying to make the most of these incredible deals that keep coming our way!