I have known for a very long time that at some point, I would book myself a one way ticket and start a life in France. Not knowing how long it would take to get a job once I arrived, I knew that it was a high priority to make this transition in the cheapest way possible - getting there and having money to live on, was much more important to me than travelling in luxury and paying for multiple bags of luggage.
Once I had finally nailed down a place to live, I searched for flights from the closest airport to the city where I would stay (Toronto, Canada to Lille, France). The result? $1 400 CAD one way. Say what?!?! As someone who wasn't sitting on a lot of money to begin with, that number was terrifying. Yes, I could afford to get myself over to France, but even with my savings, I wouldn't have much to live on once I arrived.
The next thing that I decided to try was to fly to Scotland first. I have connections there, so I figured that if it worked out cheaper, I could make an extra visit out of it. I have always heard people say that once you are in Europe, travelling from place to place within Europe is not just inexpensive, but CHEAP. I plugged in my airports again (Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland), and came up with a result just shy of $450. Again, I tried a flight from Scotland to Lille and the flight came to around $400, plus some extra costs in baggage. BINGO. Changing up my travel stops, instead of doing a direct destination, allowed me to bypass spending hundreds of extra dollars. I have a few theories behind why this worked and how you can save money on your flights too!
Trick #1 Search for a destination in a European country/city currently out of tourist season.
First of all, many countries have seasons that are much less favourable for tourists to visit. When the weather is pleasant and there are big events going on to draw in visitors, prices tend to skyrocket, but for that same location, after tourist season is over, prices seem to drop significantly. Do some research or play around, testing out which countries currently have the best flying rates.
Trick #2 If you can, try to fly into a big city versus a smaller one.
Whether or not you choose to fly during tourist season, there will always be more traffic flying into larger cities than into smaller ones. Because of this, it is almost always cheaper to travel to the larger city. If you need to get somewhere else from that bigger airport, consider searching for a cheap flight from that location, having someone pick you up from the airport, or taking some form of transit (train, bus, taxi etc.) to your final destination. Despite having to spend extra money on another mode of transportation, you should still be saving money from the original direct flight to your smaller destination.
Trick #3 Use the Google search engine.
A quick and easy way to discover the cheapest flight destinations, is to do a Google search. Type into the search engine a starting and ending location for a flight (ie Flights from New York City to London, England). Google will even allow you to add the dates that you are searching for. Once you have entered into Google's official flight comparison page, click on the three lines beside the word "Flights" located on the top left corner of the screen. Next choose "Explore Map" and it will open up an image of the world and display flight prices for your chosen country and other nearby countries. As you explore and adjust settings, pay attention to suggestions or options that Google sometimes gives to help you save extra money. Once you have picked your flight locations, head over to Expedia to book your flights.
Trick #4 Save money on your baggage.
I have often found that whether or not your baggage is included in the flight price, all depends on the airline you are flying with and how far you are going. Always try to check before you book, to see if you will need to pay extra baggage costs, so that you can factor it into your traveling expenses. Moving to Europe, I didn't want to pay $100+ for an extra bag, so I managed to pack everything into one suitcase, a carry-on bag and a personal item. I have made a resource for you, to help you pack as efficiently as possible, for any upcoming travels you may have in store. Whether you are just flying with a carry-on, or a suitcase as well, go ahead and use these free pointers to help you pack everything you need, and to maximize the space that you already have. Click here to go to the resource page and to receive my FREE packing resource.
Trick #5 Check out this great website that I found to help you.
Because I wanted to provide you with solid help to save money on flights, from North America to Europe, I did some extra research just for you. (You're welcome!) I discovered a website that provides the cheapest big cities to travel to, departing from multiple locations in North America. It was published only last year, and it's certainly worth a look, to save yourself some cash on your next adventure. Use this website along with the tactics I have just shared, and you should be set to go! Check out this website here.
If you found this information to be useful, please use the social media links to share with your friends. If you have any other tips that you'd like to add, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!