Flying Internationally for Under $500
One big misconception I hear from people when they talk to me about international travel is the cost. Any round trip ticket I’ve purchased for national or international travel has been less than $500USD at its base fare (excluding any upgrades chosen). And the hotels? I’ve stayed in some for as low as $25/night — places that would be considered 3/4 stars in the US. If you’re cool with hostels, you can find even cheaper prices (I’ve seen $9/night in Roatan, Honduras!) I find that what stops people from considering an international escape is the cost to fly. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I have always been a huge comparison, deal finding shopper when it comes to big ticket items. Now there are a ton of websites out that will help you find great prices to great places. My biggest go to for flights is Skyscanner. They have two great functions at your disposal: finding the cheapest to fly and the cheapest time to fly there. My searches usually originate from there. My home airports are usually TPA (Tampa) or MCO (Orlando). The prices can vary greatly depending on my end location so I consider both for my take off.
Give it a shot. Click the button below and try with your hometown airport and “Everywhere” as a destination. For depart and return, make sure you choose “cheapest month”.
Find anything? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But you most likely found some places can be a lot less to get to than you’d imagine.
So here’s an example: Being here in Florida, I can fly to Atlanta most times of the year for relatively cheap. It runs about $130-$200 round trip. Sometimes less than that if an airline has specials going on. Using Skyscanner, I can find flights to Costa Rica (somewhere I’ve been dying to visit!) for about $80 more. If $80 is something I can manage, I will look into the prices for accommodations there. You can almost bet as a Central American country, the cost to stay there over Atlanta will net you more than $80 in savings.
Skyscanner acts as a jumping off point for me. Maybe I know I want to do something in August but I’m not sure what or where I’d go. If the prices match up, I do some research into the destination. It could be somewhere completely new to me or a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.
Another good piece of advice to keep in the back of your mind: check far and wide for a departure location. A deal I saw recently was to fly to Greece from DC for $560 round trip. That is cheap. To fly into Greece from Florida? The cheapest I could find was $800+. But another airline had sales for flights from Florida to DC. The cost to fly to DC, stay a night (if needed), then fly out to Greece was a rather good chunk of savings. It may not always work in your favor, but it is worth checking out.
Most recently, Southwest announced its $59/$79 one way deal. Tons of flights for $59 or $79 to and from a lot of airports. I found I could fly to Belize City and back for a whopping $201. That’s less than half of my cost to fly there the last time I flew from TPA. The catch here? I had to fly out from Ft Lauderdale. That’s about a 3-4 hour drive from me — I could take a train for $60 (also round trip) to get me to Ft Lauderdale some 5-6 hours before the flight is due to leave. Is it more work? Yeah, definitely. But that is now $200+ saved on airfare.
When it comes to flying, whether it be a state away or a continent away, it pays to do some legwork. Timing is key! Found where you’re headed? Learn how to find the best places to go and things to do.