Are you planning an international trip in the next year or two? Would you like to save hundreds of dollars on your international flights while still using your favorite airlines?

If you are thinking about traveling internationally in the year ahead then you need to read this post before you do anything else!

How To Get The Best Deals On INternational Flights! Learn how to save hundreds of dollars on your airline tickets while still flying the best airlines in the world

My secret talent in life is finding incredible flight deals and saving a fortune on international travel. I have an entire section in my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) on how to get the best flights possible for the least amount of money. Every hundred dollars you save on airfare is a hundred more dollars you can spend on shopping!

Some of my Glam Italia Tour travelers this past summer saved as much as $800 on their round trip flights using the tips in my book. By this I mean they were able to get the exact same flight on the exact same plane for $800 below price. If the book saves you even $100 on your flights then it was worth spending the $15 to get it! You can get a copy of my book here on Amazon.com

RELATED POST: HOW TO PACK LIKE A PRO (7 Stealth Steps To Perfect Packing)

I am a Sagittarian and I am a Kiwi, so it stands to reason that I have a heavy dose of wanderlust running through my veins. I am never happier than when I’m on my way to the airport about to embark on a new adventure.

The only problem is that I am also a single mom which gives me a different set of budgetary realities to deal with. People are always questioning how I can pull of all the travel I do on such a tight budget. Since 2010 I have flown to Australia round trip twice for free and to Europe five times for free, all using my frequent flier miles. This past weekend I booked a $1700 round trip trans world flight for free, using the ultimate travel hack. I have written about that in a separate post here: How To Fly Anywhere In The World For Free

Grand Canal venice in the late afternoon. If you could fly anywhere in the world where would you go?

The Grand Canal in Venice. If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you go?

For those of you who are subscribed to my newsletter you will be getting the very specific details on how I do it in your inbox on Friday. If you are not already subscribed to my newsletter you can do so here.

Today I want to look at flight pricing and how to get the very best price on a great flight. There are important steps to follow and they work every time.

How To Get The Best Deals On International Flights

Step One: Go Incognito

Always and only ever look at flights on an incognito window. (Google how to open an incognito window on your computer).

Have you noticed that if you click on an ad or google almost any product these days your social media suddenly gets swamped with ads for that product? You open your computer and everything you try to read or look at gets riddled with ads for that product you only clicked on once???

It’s so annoying! Not only do companies drop cookies into your computer, they also drop Facebook pixels (and no doubt lots of other pixels too) that track you, collect data on what you look at online and change your marketing profile.

Most of the time it’s just annoying, but when it comes to searching for flights it can cost you hundreds of dollars. Now that they know what you’re up to they will keep upping the price of the flights you are researching. Then they start trying to make you panic by flashing “only 3 seats left at this price!” signs at you.

When you only look at flights with an incognito window, each time is the first time and you will see major differences in the price.

RELATED POST: Foreign Exchange – How To Work Your Money When You Travel

Step Two: Check the airline website.

If you have a favorite airline or an airline you specifically want to use, you need to know what their price point is. My main airline is American Airlines, because that’s where most of my frequent flier miles are, so I check them first.

The airline website will normally show you the most expensive pricing you will find! But you need to know what the top dollar on this flight will cost. It doesn’t hurt to click around on their website and see if they are offering any specials, sales or big discounts somewhere else on the site.

Step Three: Check the consolidators

Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz etc will typically have the same flights for cheaper. The various consolidators have different airlines, so look across several of them.

Green Fiat 500 in Capri. Learn how to get the best deals on airline tickets. If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Step Four: Separate off the junk.

You will find some amazing pricing with the consolidators, but know that there will be some junk routing you need to avoid.

Watch out for crappy airlines and crazy routing. When I was looking for my flights this past week and weekend there were some great prices but they had horrible routing. Instead of a 24 hour door to door some of them were as much as 41 hours! Sending me all over the place and giving me 13 hour layovers in places I didn’t want to be.

On top of that many of the airlines they were showing me were airlines I wouldn’t want to fly. Taking a long haul flight on a substandard airline is (in my opinion) not a great idea. There are plenty of great airlines out there, so if you are not familiar with a particular airline, check the reviews on it before you discard that flight option. If you see bad reviews, dig deeper – you may have a disgruntled customer who isn’t familiar with overseas travel, but if you keep seeing the same types of negative reviews run a mile!

RELATED POST: Chic, Comfortable Boots and Shoes To Wear In Europe This Winter

Step Five: Look beyond your home airport.

I live in Phoenix, which is an expensive airport to route in and out of, sometimes hundreds of dollars more than other airports. So although I do check pricing from Phoenix I also look at other airports not far from here. Tucson, Las Vegas, Denver and Los Angeles all tend to have much better pricing. Tucson is  only a 2 hour drive, and the other three I can get round trip flights to for $150 or less. I constantly save as much as $700 on a round trip flight by booking it from Los Angeles.

Step Six: Stick with it.

If you persevere invariably you can find something fantastic. Most airlines had my flight starting at $1700 and heading upward in price from there to more than $2400 for the round trip! Others were as low as $800 but the routes were just awful and on airlines with horrible revues.

After clicking around across a couple of days I found the perfect flight. It is direct, so door to door 24 hours (other side of the world), and is with one of the best airlines in the world. And it cost $958 round trip. I didn’t pay so much as a penny for my flights though – I used a frequent flier mileage trick that meant I didn’t even pay airport taxes. Normally if flying on frequent flier miles you still have an out of pocket cash cost on taxes. I am walking away from this with not one cent out of pocket. I have detailed it in this post.

Airline choice is a huge factor, especially on long haul flights. Little details such as seat pitch, food quality  and service are super important, and can mean the difference between arriving feeling sick and exhausted and arriving feeling great.

My book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) goes into depth on how I get all these flights, how I make sure my flights are fantastic, get upgraded much of the time, and avoid jet lag. Regardless of where in the world you are traveling you will find this information both helpful and cost saving. It makes a great gift for anyone you know who is planning travel to anywhere in the world, (not just to Italy). You can get it here on Amazon.com

Want more details on how I get the best flights for free? Subscribe to my newsletter here.

Would you like to travel internationally but get put off by the high cost of airline tickets? Does the thought of amassing frequent flier miles and using them for flights confuse you or maybe just seem a little too much work? Would you like some really great tricks for traveling around the world for free?

How To Fly Around The World For Free. Lean the tips and tricks thta get you free flights to anywhere in the world on the very best airlines! No blackout dates, no long layovers 9Unles you want them!)

 

Disclaimer:

Before we go any further I want you to know that this is not a sponsored post. I don’t have links to any credit card applications in this post – it is just an info post.

Also I want you to know that I am a single mom. The reason I have been able to travel around the world so much over the past few years is by using the tricks I am about to share with you.

Since 2010 I have flown round trip to Europe for free five times and to Australia for free twice. Flying for free was the difference between being able to travel and not being able to go. So if anyone reading this is in the same or similar position to me and has been thinking they can’t afford to take a trip to Europe or anywhere else in the world, buckle up baby! Let’s go fly the friendly skies!

My Latest Free Flight

This past weekend I was trying to explain to a group of my Glam Italia Tour travelers how I get flights for free using credit card miles. I had just booked a $1700 round trip flight for some travel I’m doing next year (not a Glam Tour) for free. Zero. Nada. Not one penny out of pocket.

As I explained how I do it, along with the concept of triple dipping on miles they all looked quite confused. I think it was info overload, so I decided to break the story up into two blog posts and deal with each part separately.

The first of the two posts is here: How To Get Great Deals On International Flights You need to read it in order to get the full benefit of what I am teaching you here.

RELATED POST: How To Get Great Deals On International Flights

It also made me think about all the people out there planning their trips around the world for next year who could find this helpful. I go into it in more depth in my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) . If you or anyone you know is planning some overseas travel it is well worthwhile reading my book and really getting on top of how to get killer flight deals without downgrading to crappy airlines or taking crazy layovers. The book costs $15.95 in paperback and under $10 on Kindle.

This past summer some of my Glam Italia Tour travelers saved as much as $800 on their round trip tickets, I saved something similar (I can’t remember exactly what I paid). And now I just got a $1700 flight on one of the best airlines in the world for free. It’s worth investing$15 in the book just for the hundreds of dollars it can help you save, let alone for all the tricks I have for making your flight fantastic and avoiding jet lag…

RELATED POST: 13 Things To Do Before You Travel Overseas

I use the same methods no matter where in the world I am flying. In this post I am explaining how to triple dip with frequent flier miles.

HOW TO FLY AROUND THE WORLD FOR FREE

St Mark's Basilica in Venice. If you could fly for free where would you go? Would you fly to Venice?

If you could fly anywhere in the world for free where would you go? Would you fly to Venice and see St Mark’s Basilica at sunset?

Credit Card Frequent Flier Miles

I have a couple of rules for using frequent flier miles.

The First Rule is only ever use them for flights. Using credit card frequent flier miles for magazine subscriptions or hotel stays is a waste and false economy. You just wasted a bunch of money on things that you can get cheaply anyway. With print media subscriptions waning you can get most magazine subscriptions for under $24 per year. Save your miles!

Before you blow miles on a hotel check out sites such as Booking.com where you can generally get a better deal anyway.

The Second Rule is to save frequent flier miles for international flights. That’s where you really see the benefit. You can almost always find deals on domestic flights and they seldom cost as much as international flights. If they do then you’re not looking in the right places for your flights. (again read my book – it works for domestic flights as well as international. You can buy your copy here)

Choose The Right Card

The first step is to get a credit card with a really good frequent flier program. You can google the best credit cards for travelers and for frequent flier miles. If you subscribe to my newsletter you will be getting an email tomorrow telling you exactly which card I use. If you are not on my newsletter list you can sign up for it here

Read the fine print and see how much the card will charge you per year in fees. Some look great at the outset but their annual fees negate the value of having the card, or undo the benefit of being in the program.

Don’t Use An Airline Credit Card

Don’t use an airline card. This doesn’t mean don’t get a credit card tied to your airline of choice, it means they are two separate things. I fly regularly with American Airlines and technically could apply for their card. I would get a chunk of free miles if I spent enough in the first 3 months, which would be good, and I would get some added benefits if I was flying with them.

This can be getting the first checked bag for free on domestic flights and getting priority boarding on domestic flights. Depending on which of their cards you use there can be other benefits too, but the annual fee gets very steep, and unless you travel a ton more than me it’s not necessarily worthwhile.

Most airline credit cards work with variations of the same principles.

The problem is that when you use an airline credit card you have put all your proverbial eggs in one basket. They hold all the power. They decide if you can use your miles on the flights you want, not you. They also decide how many miles you need to make your flight and how crappy of a seat you may be relegated to. And who wants to give up the power of choice when you don’t have to?

Use Your Credit Card Like A Debit Card

Here’s the clever part: use your frequent flier credit card like a debit card. Most of us no longer use cash or checks, instead taking advantage of the convenience of swiping a debit card.

You need to have some financial discipline, but instead of your debit card you swipe your credit card. For everything. At the end of the day just move the money from your debit card to your credit card. I do it on my phone from either my credit card app or my bank app. It takes 2 seconds and means for the most part unless there has been an emergency I never owe any money on my card. (Emergencies like the maniac house sitter who trashed my house in a drunken fit this summer. I used my card to pay emergency plumbers while I was on the other side of the world– a nightmare story I’m not quite ready to share yet) Otherwise I never run a credit card balance.

Most cards with frequent flier mileage programs will give you 2 miles for every $1 spent. So if you run $100 of groceries through your card then you just made 200 miles.

Think about how much gas you put in your car each year, or how much you spend on parking or public transport, uber, or however you get places. Just doing normal life, but running it through your card, means you can accrue huge miles very quickly.

I pay every bill I can with my card. I wish I could pay my mortgage with my card but they don’t allow it. When I pay my bills each month – phone, utilities, insurance, car insurance, internet and cable (yes – I still have cable!) everything I possibly can gets paid on my card, earning me 2 miles per dollar spent.

Then I just move the money over and pay the card. It’s a tiny extra, very simple step that takes no time at all but pays off enormously.

Sometimes it takes a couple of years to earn enough miles for a round trip international flight, others times it’s a year or less.

Another Benefit of Non Airline Cards

Over the years I have used two different credit cards for frequent flier miles.

Each of them have had a free year then an annual fee between $75 and $95. The fee charges to the card and I get double miles on it, so I’m not too concerned, but you have to figure it into your total plan.

Both of these cards have let me use their miles on any airline. That is one of the biggest things to factor in.

You need to be able to choose the best airlines in the world, the routes you want to take and the times you want to take them.

The trip I booked this weekend was available to me using my airline frequent flier miles, the only problem was the options they gave me for the return flight across the world. Flights that long are exhausting anyway, but the airline was going to make me travel 40+ hours to come home, routing me all over the place with heinous layovers along the way. It was like a recipe for DVT.

RELATED POST: What Is DVT?

If I wanted to take a direct flight back to the USA they were going to triple the number of miles I would have to use. They held allllll the power in this equation and I was effectively completely powerless.

By using my credit card miles instead of my airline miles I was able to choose the flights I wanted, the airline I wanted, and the dates and times I wanted. I designed my flight plan to best suit me. Not them. And I was in control of the number of miles used.

The Frequent Flier Miles Triple Dip

You always need to maximize the number of miles you can get on a flight, so here is how the frequent flier miles triple dip works.

Frequent Flier Miles Dip 1:

I use my credit card frequent flier miles to pay the entirety of my flights. There are no added taxes or fees. I find the flights I want (using my tricks in this post). I use the airline of my choice, which is always one of the good ones. Why fly a junky airline with bad food and worse service if you don’t have to?

Airline frequent flier miles require you to pay airport taxes, so you do actually have out of pocket expenses.

With my credit card miles I simply choose the flights I want, charge them to my card and then pay the card by redeeming my credit card accrued miles. It is very simple and very straight forward. And I got a smoking deal!

Frequent Flier Miles Dip 2:

Because I bought the flights on my credit card I got 2 miles per dollar spent. This meant that I was accruing miles while using miles. Genius!

Frequent Flier Miles Dip 3:

Of course I attached my airline frequent flier program to the flights I bought. This was a Star Alliance partner airline, so the miles I accrue with these flights can be used on a variety of airlines.

RELATED POST: 7 Travel Essentials You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

If you could fly anywhere in the world for free where would you go? Learn how to get flights to anywhere in the world for free

Using Airline Frequent Flier Miles

Every flight I take is accruing miles with my airline frequent flier program. I have mileage programs with every airline I fly, so as I’m buzzing around the country and around the world I am building my mileage bank both with my credit card and with the airline.

Most major airlines are part of the One World or Star Alliance partnerships and their miles cross over to the partner airlines in the programs.

For example I often fly Delta, KLM and Air France. Each of their mileage programs works with the others and combine into one.

I also fly American and Qantas, and their mileage programs add to each other and work together.

When I’m using airline frequent flier miles I do one of three things:

Airline Miles Tip One:

The first is keeping an eye out for their mileage special offers. In the off season airlines will often offer good deals, such as round trip to Italy for only 40,000 miles. I like to take advantage of these kinds of deals and get a roundtrip flight for just the cost of the airport taxes, and not use up all my miles.

Airline Miles Tip Two:

Another way I use them is when I really want to go on a trip but really cannot afford it. It takes some extra sleuthing and some flexibility with my dates, but I can swing the trip for just the cost of the taxes. This can mean Europe on a good airline for under $200.

Airline Miles Tip Three:

The last way I would use airline frequent flier miles is to get an upgrade. Depending on how full the economy cabin is the airline may need to move some passengers up to business class to open up economy seats to standby passengers. (If I were to do this I would only do so on an international flight – domestic flight upgrades aren’t worth burning your points.) Sometimes you can use frequent flier miles or frequent flier miles plus cash to upgrade.

On a recent trip to Barcelona the airline had to upgrade a passenger to business class and had me at the front of the line. A passenger came up and used 30,000 miles plus $150 to take that spot. When I calculated the miles and cash it just wasn’t worth it, so I rode in the main cabin. It was a 777 so every seat was good anyway.

I hope this helps you to get some free flights or tax only flights around the world. A little planning at the front end can open the world of travel to you, or can afford you more trips. Make sure you also read the other post in this 2 post story: How To Get The Best Deals On International Flights.

If you subscribe to my newsletter keep an eye on your inbox! Tomorrow you will be receiving a detailed letter about which card I used, which airline I’m flying and and how I got such a killer deal, step by step. If you don’t subscribe to my newsletter yet you can sign up here

If you have any questions about how to do this and you are on my newsletter list just bounce back a reply when you get your email. I respond to every email you send me!

 

How To Fly Anywhere In The World For Free! If you could fly anywhere for free where would you go?

 

Are you traveling to another country anytime soon? Are you familiar with working with foreign exchange? I probably get asked about this more than any other travel related subject. This week someone posted a terrible money exchange story on a Facebook travel group that I belong to. When they arrived in Rome the airport money exchange place told them they only had a €500 note. Take it or leave it. Unfortunately she took it. This comes with a world of trouble, so I am writing this post in the hope that I can prevent something like this happening to you.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

This post contains affiliate links

Travel With Currency

I will come back to that story in a minute, but first I want to emphatically stress that you must always travel with some of the local currency. You cannot rely on the exchange place at the airport being open/having cash/or even that there is one at the terminal you are arriving in.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on workign with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards. How to avoid pickpockets

Euros in small denominations

The same goes with relying on an airport ATM machine. They might be out of cash. Chances are they are not part of a bank but instead are part of Travelex, a business that makes money on exchange rates and fees.

It can be incredibly annoying if the person you are traveling with doesn’t bring cash with them and is mooching off you until they get some – don’t be that person. Bring around $100 worth of the local currency with you at a minimum, and get your currency in small denominations, not large bills.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PREVENT BED BUGS WHEN YOU TRAVEL

Use Your Coins

Outside of America most currencies use coins for low denominations. You won’t find the equivalent to $1 bills in most places, some don’t even have $5 paper money.

Use up these larger coins prior to leaving as you normally can’t exchange them back to your own currency. You don’t want to arrive home with lots of €1 and €2 coins that you can’t exchange.

Have A Conversion App On Your Phone

Download a conversion app before leaving home, and make sure you are aware of where the exchange rate is trending. Nowhere will give you the official exchange rate, but at least you will know if you are close to it or if you are about to get ripped off.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

Pounds Sterling, British currency.

Use Your Debit Card – Wisely

On my Glam Italia Tours I advise everyone to use their debit cards in Italy to get cash. I use my debit card all over the world and have found it to be the most cost efficient and overall efficient way to get money.

Check with your bank to find out what fees they attach to each transaction. Some don’t charge any, (I have been told Schwab doesn’t, but haven’t verified it personally), some charge $3 per transaction, others charge a transaction fee of $3 to $5 and then charge a percentage of the total transaction on top of that. My Credit Union has a $3 fee but my Chase debit card has the $3 plus 2% of the total withdrawn. These fees add up fast, so do your research ahead of time, and if necessary open an account just for traveling with a new financial institution.

RELATED POST: CREDIT CARD TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

More Debit Card Tips

  • Only use your debit card to withdraw cash. Don’t use it to purchase items, as those fees add up fast.
  • Withdraw the maximum. Rather than withdrawing $100 per day with a $3 fee per transaction pull $300 and only pay the transaction fee once.
  • Call the number on the back of your cards and register them for going overseas. The bank will ask for the dates you will be gone and which countries you will be in. Failing to register them for international travel can result in your card being shut down the first time you use it.
  • Only ever withdraw cash from a bank ATM. Ideally only when the bank is open, and an ATM machine inside the bank. You are more vulnerable to thieves and cloning devices when you use the ATM outside the bank. Also, should the ATM machine eat your card the bank can open it and retrieve it for you if it is during bank hours.
  • Non bank ATM’s are not secure and can pretty much be guaranteed to have the worst exchange rates and additional fees.
  • Ideally use a debit card that is not attached to a bank account that your bills pull out of. Should your card get hacked or cloned while you are traveling you don’t want to have them drain out your mortgage/rent payment and all your ACH’s. This can be a costly headache if your payees attach fees to missed payments.

RELATED POST: 10 FANTASTIC AIRPORT HACKS

What To Know About Credit Cards When You Travel

Your best bet is to travel with Visa or Mastercard. Although there are places that will take American Express and Discover Card they are fewer and further between.

Sign up for a travel-friendly card. Capital One Venture Card, Chase Sapphire, and many of the Barclay Group cards all have zero transaction fees for international travel. Do your research on the best credit cards for international travel and sign up for a new card that is designed for international travel. Not only will you not have transaction fees but you will also get better exchange rates.

Only ever complete transactions in the local currency. Many places with a high tourist footprint will offer you to make the charge in their currency or your home currency. You will always get a bad exchange rate if you opt for your own currency.

Money Belts

Depending on where you are traveling a money belt can be a really good idea. These are flat pouches that hold passport, credit cards and cash and are worn underneath your clothes.

Eagle Creek money belt sits under your waistband and holds passport, cash and credit cards

Eagle Creek money belts are available at The Container Store

  • Think of your money belt as a safe, not a wallet.
  • Take out what you need for the day and keep everything else inside your money belt. The idea is that no one knows you have one on, so don’t get it out during the day to get more cash or cards.
  • Think about what you are wearing – if you have a money belt with a tight T-shirt over top then everyone can see you are wearing a money belt, so you have just alerted the thieves exactly where your valuables are.
  • Think you can stop them getting your money belt if they can see it? Think again. They are pros at separating tourists from their valuables and will be off with your passport, cash and cards before you know it.
  • Separate your cash and cards. Never have everything all in one place. A small stash of cash and a card hidden in a separate place can be your saving grace if a pickpocket gets the better of you.

RELATED POST: HAVE YOU READ MY BOOK YET?? 

Travel Insurance

You should buy a travel insurance policy for every overseas trip. Get coverage for lost or missed flight connections, lost luggage, failure to make or complete the trip due to medical issues, and super, super important get coverage for a major medical incident. We don’t plan on anything major going wrong when we travel, but we need to be prepared in case heaven forbid we wind up in a car accident, have a heart attack, get appendicitis etc.

Find the best choice for the travel insurance benefits you need with Allianz Travel’s OneTrip Suite of plans. Get Your Free Quote Today!
Look for a policy that covers a flight home for you with a nurse should it be necessary.

I have used Allianz Travel for all my travel insurance for years. Should you get sick while away you can call Allianz and they will find you an English speaking doctor nearby.


AllianzTravelInsurance.com

So the lady who got conned into taking a €500 note at the airport in Rome? She got very stuck. No one will cash a €500 bill. Apart from the fact that it could be counterfeit, most places don’t carry that kind of surplus cash. Even banks may not want to help you out.

Bonus Content

The lead up to an international trip can be really stressful – there are so many things to remember and to take care of before you go! I have a pre-travel checklist that I use myself and also give to all my Glam Italia Tour travelers. It is in PDF form so you can download it and print it as often as you want.

If you would like this stress-busting checklist just CLICK HERE