As you know by now, we are all about the points! But recently, one of our awesome and loyal subscribers (we just reached 350 of 'em! Thank you!) asked us how to get cheap airfare if you don't have any points yet accumulated. We feel that. Sometimes your credit might not be high enough to score the best rewards cards, or you might just be out of points from all that travel! So here are a couple lesser-known tips that will help you score some awesome travel deals!
TIP #1: Buy roundtrip airfare in reverse directions!
A few years ago we discovered that it is much cheaper to book roundtrip tickets from many countries to the USA, than from the USA to those same countries. We visit Tunisia just about every year because we have extended family who live there, including our children's grandparents. One summer when we were low on energy and miles, and didn't feel like making the trek (Yea, I don't know how that happened either! Who ever tires of traveling?!), we decided to fly the grandparents out to California instead. That way, we could still get ample family time, and have a relaxing staycation at home. But when we looked up airfare costs, we were shocked to discover that the roundtrip tickets from TUN-LAX were half the cost than for us to fly there (LAX-TUN)!!
And so this hack was born. This one is for those people who return to the same country every year because they have family living abroad in a home country, or just have a particular destination they love to return to. And even if you don't have a desire to return to the same place, you can still take advantage of this hack, by using your return flight as a future grounding hub- a central starting off point to visit a different country.
We used this trick ourselves last summer, when we booked oneway flights from Los Angeles to Tunisia using miles, and needed a way to return to the US, but were running low on points at the time. We looked up fares using this hack and found great fares roundtrip from Cairo, Egypt to LAX. We purchased roundtrip tickets in Business Class during the height of summer travel season for only $1300 each on Alitalia Airways. There is an advantage to sometimes buying airfare with money instead of points, so go ahead and spend when you come across a great deal. The advantage is that you will accumulate double points for that trip to use in the future (the miles that you get from the airline for the actual travel, plus the points you will get when you purchase them on your credit card).
We have found that consistently the countries that have the cheapest fare to the rest of the world are Egypt, Algeria, and Sri Lanka. Egypt and Algeria seemed to be our best options as they are closest in proximity to our real destination (Tunisia), but we went with Egypt because Algeria requires visas be bought ahead of time at the embassy and are quite expensive, making it a bigger headache than Egypt, where Americans can buy visas for $25 upon arrival.
Thus, we booked our return flight last July from Tunisia, by way of Cairo- Los Angeles. We then "stayed" in LA for six months (even though it's where we live) and then we flew on our return ticket from LAX to Cairo in Dec 2018 (which was really the first leg of a new trip). On that trip, because we had already seen Cairo and the Pyramids, we just used it as our central hub. We spent just one night in a hotel in Cairo near the airport to rest, and the next day we flew to Oman (which was our real destination on this Winter trip).This is what I meant earlier about a stopping off point or hub. If you don't have a reason to return to Egypt every summer, you can just use the tickets as a way to get to the general area or continent you want to travel to.
Because we travel around our kids' school schedules, we used our first flight in summer, and our return flight for our winter trip. But you can delay your return flight up to a year. So, for example, if you go to Egypt every summer this will work well for you. We had such success with this method, that we are using it again this summer, but through Scotland.
If you use this trick with the above fares, over the course of two trips combined you would save approximately $1700 per person!
TIP #2: Take advantage of layovers!
Another airfare hack is adding in a stopover (not the same as a layover). Sometimes you just can't find direct flights from where you want to go and are forced to layover in a foreign airport for a few hours. Well instead of bragging, "Yea, I've been to Germany" and then muttering under your breath, "Well the German airport on a layover." take advantage of this opportunity to actually see a new country and adjust to time zones.
What you do is at the time of booking if you notice the flight you want has a layover in a certain country, call and ask the airlines directly to change your layover into a stopover for the amount of days you would like to see that country. Some airlines will only allow a 3-day stopover, while others you can extend it for weeks!
We have done this trick several times, but most recently when we flew from Los Angles to Hong Kong. The flight happened to have a layover in Korea, so we knew this was our chance to add another country to our list! We called up the carrier, Korean Airlines, and asked them to extend our Korea layover into a stopover. We stayed in Korea for 11 days which turned into a whole trip of its own, and then at the end of our 11 day sightseeing trip in Korea, we boarded a flight from Korea to our final destination of Hong Kong.
TIP #3: Book Separate Legs Separately
So let's say you want to go to Morocco from California, but there are no direct flights from California to Morocco, so you'd need a stop (probably somewhere in Europe). There are frequent flash sales on airfare to Europe, so when you see one, snag one! You have to be open to destinations, so just go with the first one you see that's cheap. Let's say you picked Rome, and now you have roundtrip tickets to Rome! Now all you do is book separate roundtrip tickets with a separate airline from Rome to Casablanca and you're on your way! Europe has many low budget carriers, so you should be able to book this flight for cheap. In this way, not only do you get to see a new country, or revisit a place you love, but you also can do it for significantly cheaper. You just need to have an open mind about where to go.
Where is your next destination? Let us know in the comments!