College is both the easiest and the hardest time in your life to travel. On the one hand, you have plenty of vacations and breaks built into your schedule, without having to request time off from your boss. On the other hand, college drains your bank account like nothing else. But if travel is a top priority for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of strategies to help you juggle both school and travel! One of the most important ways to save money on travel is by finding cheap flights.
Lately, many of my friends and fellow students have been asking me how I manage to travel so much, despite being a poor college student. I have visited 11 countries since last Christmas, and I’ll have visited 5 more countries by the end of 2018! AND I’ve paid for it all myself! Now have I piqued your interest? Keep reading to find out my top 4 trips for traveling while attending university!
One of my most important strategies is in buying flights. If you’re smart, plan ahead, and are willing to do some research, you can save so much money on flights. For instance, this week I just purchased a roundtrip flight from New York to Oslo, Norway for just $263!!!
Here are the three steps I recommend following when you buy a plane ticket:
- Sign up for flight notifications so you know when the prices drop
- Search on a variety of websites to find the best deal
- Buy your ticket knowing you are saving some major $$$
How to Score Cheap Flights: Step 1
For step one, I receive notifications in several forms. One is in the form of emails from organizations that specialize specifically in finding flight deals. My favorite is Scott’s Cheap Flights, and I honestly can’t say enough good things about them! They have a premium subscription for $39/year that sends you every single deal, but I prefer to just use the free plan (for now) because I already receive more deals than I know what to do with!!!
I also use the iPhone app Hopper, which notifies me on my phone when the prices drop on the specific flights that I’ve asked the app to monitor. I also occasionally ask SkyScanner or Google Flights to notify me by email when the prices of specific flights drop.
How to Score Cheap Flights: Step 2
Once I find out about a flight deal from one of these sources, I check all of my other sources to make sure I get the best deal. I then check the top few deals on the airline’s personal websites in order to be absolutely sure that I get the best deal. And then the most exciting part – I buy my ticket!
I used these exact same steps to find my insanely cheap flight to Norway. I got an email from Scott’s Cheap Flights notifying me that there were price drops on a variety of flights to Scandinavia. Next, I compared prices using my top websites, and found the best deal was on Google Flights (https://www.google.com/flights) with Norwegian Air. I then compared Google’s price with the price on Norwegian Air’s website and found that their price was even cheaper! And that’s how I scored my roundtrip plane ticket from the US to Europe for just $263 😀
How to Score Cheap Flights: More Tips
One word of caution – When you buy such cheap flights, make sure you read the fine print! Part of the reason that my flight was so cheap is that I agreed to not check a bag. Budget airlines (like Norwegian Air) are able to offer such insane deals because they charge a lot for checked bags, in-flight meals, seat selection, etc. Bringing your own snacks and accepting your middle seat assignment isn’t so hard. But going without a checked bag can be a bit more daunting, especially for people taking longer trips.
Lucky for you, I’ve already written a blog post about how to pack light for a long trip! Last summer, I spent two months traveling around Europe with JUST my backpack, and I actually felt that I still had more stuff than I needed! So, click here to learn my tips for packing light, and you can save $45-$90 by forgoing a checked bag! If you do end up deciding to bring a checked bag, NEVER wait to pay for it at the airport. It is always, always, ALWAYS cheaper to pay for it in advance on line when you are flying a budget airline!
Want even more travel tips? Check back soon for my next post about finding cheap accommodations. Or, you can click here to see all of my travel hacks!