The cost of flying is one of the highest (if not the highest) costs when it comes to traveling. But there are ways to find cheap flights, both from the US and while you’re abroad, especially if you’re a student or youth (under 26). If you know what tools to use and what to look for, you can save a TON of money on air travel. Check out these tips on how to find super cheap flights for your study abroad semester
Cheap flights to your study abroad destination
Your most expensive flight during your study abroad semester will without a doubt be the one to and from the US. But there are ways to get that cost down.
Take advantage of being a student
If you’ve never heard of StudentUniverse, head to their site and bookmark it. StudenUniverse offers discounted airfare to college students, and the discounts can be HUGE. They are especially useful if you need to fly into a city that doesn’t have an international airport and will therefore need to layover, as you can save hundreds of dollars when booking with a student site. STA Travel is a similar company, so check airfares on their site too.
Don’t believe it? We tested it. We searched for a roundtrip flight from NYC to Florence, Italy (which has a very small, regional airport). We chose the option of only one, non-overnight layover (direct is impossible) on the same dates. The cheapest option we found on Skyscanner was $1,120, but on StudentUniverse it was only $784 — a $336 difference.
Timing is everything
Generally speaking, the earlier you can book your flight abroad, the better the price will be. But fares do fluctuate, so as soon as you know what date you need to arrive to your study abroad destination, create a fare alert (sites like StudentUniverse let you do this). You’ll then receive emails when the cost of flights for your chosen dates increases or decreases. If you see a significant decrease, it may be the right time to book.
Watch those baggage fees
While you’re searching for the best deals on your flights, make sure you keep in mind the baggage fees. One flight may be $50 more expensive than another, but allows you to have two checked bags for free, as opposed to the cheaper flight that will charge you $70 for your second bag (and $140 for round trip… yikes.)
Finding cheap flights while abroad
Study abroad students are known for being able to find the cheapest flights possible. If you’re studying in Europe, you’re about to enter into a love-hate relationship with budget airlines like Ryan Air, WizzAir, and EasyJet. But no matter where you will be studying, your tool of choice for airfare search should be Skyscanner, because it includes most of those budget airlines in its results. This means you only need to search once to find ALL flights that are available.
Some of our readers have let us know that Lonely Planet can have good deals on flights throughout Central and South America, so if you’re studying there, check out LP’s flight search tool.
Watch out for the extras
Just because a flight on one airline is $30 cheaper than another doesn’t mean it’s the one you should book. Keep an eye out for these infamous, often over-looked extras :
• Transfers – Some budget airlines fly into airports that are up to two hours outside of the city center, so you’ll need to purchase a train or bus ticket to get anywhere close to where you’ll be staying.
• Baggage – Budget airlines charge for checked bags, and sometimes even for carry-ons. Know what the baggage policy is before you end up having to pay more for your luggage than your actual flight.
• All the rest – forgot to print your ticket before getting to the airport? That’ll be €40. Want a glass of water on the plane? You’ll be asked if you want to pay cash or credit. Budget airlines charge for EVERYTHING, so be sure to read over all of the fine print before you book to make sure that the flight is still worth it after all of the fees you may have to pay.
Still not sure about flying budget airlines? This guide will help you survive the experience.
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Photos from Pixabay