Why limit yourself and your adventures to one country? Be like early explorers and embark on a lap around the world! I am going to give you several techniques I have used to keep travel costs to a minimum and how you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars, flying around the world and anytime you travel.
1. Where Are You Starting?
First step is to figure out where you want to start your global trip. You can start from anywhere in the world, but make sure you have a plan and expected date of departure in mind. Start building a savings or at least make the conscious decision to start saving money after deciding to build the trip. Transportation is going to be one of your biggest costs, but there are many ways to cut costs and capitalize on saving your money. I suggest that you start buying flights six months in advance, and continue buying additional flights as you save money. Buying flights in pieces is an awesome way to budget your money and save hundreds of dollars by taking advantage of price fluctuations throughout the six months leading up to your departure. Book important and expensive flights earlier into your process so they are confirmed and out-of-mind as you fill in smaller sections of your trip.
2. Which Way Should You Go? <– –>
The next step is to decide which way you want to go? Are you gonna go east or west around the world? If you travel west you will be crossing time zones that let you repeat days and hours, unless you travel over the International Date Line putting you entirely into the next date. Personally I experience more jet lag from westward flights and depending on your geographic location, there may not be as many options for the impulsive traveler type. I find better flight times and more availability going east because the airspace over the Atlantic is some of the highest trafficked region on Earth. The countries that border the Atlantic connect to many global aviation hubs in Europe and the Americas, eventually connecting to Asia. Buy red eye flights to take advantage of these long flight durations to maximize your time at travel when you reach your destination.
3. Fly Into Cities With International Airports
After figuring out which way you’re going to travel find the big cities along the general trajectory you are going to cover. Large cities often offer international airports with more frequent flight availability, international connections, scheduling flexibility, and CHEAP PRICES! Always compare the prices of connecting into different airports at your destination, and here is a list of some of the cheapest airports around the world for you to start.
USA | North America | South America | Europe | Africa | Asia | Australia
The cheapest airports in the USA, North America, and South America:
USA and North America:
- LAS – Las Vegas, Nevada
- MCO – Orlando, Florida
- FLL – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- SJC – San Jose, California
- OAK – Oakland, California
- DEN – Denver, Colorado
- DFW – Dallas, Texas
- JFK – New York City, New York
- LAX – Los Angeles, California
- PHX – Phoenix, Arizona
- HNL – Honolulu, Hawai’i
- SEA – Seattle, Washington
- PDX – Portland, Oregon
- YYZ – Toronto, Canada
- YVR – Vancouver, Canada
- CUN – Cancun, Mexico
- TIJ – Tijuana, Mexico
- SJU – San Juan, Puerto Rico
- HAV – Havana, Cuba
- SJO – San Jose, Costa Rica
- PTY – Panama City, Panama
- LIM – Lima, Peru
- SCL – Santiago, Chile
- EZE – Buenos Aires, Argentina
- GRU – Sao Paulo, Brazil
- GIG – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- COU – Columbia
The cheapest airports in Europe:
- ARN – Stockholm, Sweden
- KEF – Reykjavik, Iceland
- MXP – Milan, Italy
- CPH – Copenhagen, Denmark
- DUB – Dublin, Ireland
- SXF – Berlin, Germany
- LGW – London, UK
- CDG – Paris, France
- ATH – Athens, Greece
- BCN – Barcelona, Spain
- HAM – Hamburg, Germany
- HEL – Helsinki, Finland
- NAP – Naples, Italy
The cheapest airports in Asia.
- HKG – Hong Kong
- PEK – Beijing
- PVG – Shanghai
- CAN – Guangzhou
- CKG – Chongqing
- HND – Tokyo, Japan
- DME – Moscow – Russia
- DBX – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- BOM – Mumbai, India
- DEL – New Delhi, India
- CCU – Kolkata, India
- ICN – Seoul, South Korea
- SIN – Singapore
- CEB – Cebu, Philippines
- MNL – Manilla, Philippines
- HKT – Phuket, Thailand
- DPS – Denpasar, Bali
The cheapest airports in Africa:
- CAI – Cairo, Egypt
- CMN – Casablanca, Morocco
- KGL – Kigali, Rwanda
- EBB – Entebbe, Uganda
- NBO – Nairobi, Kenya
- JNB – Johannesburg, South Africa
- CPT – Cape Town, South Africa
The cheapest airports in Australia and New Zealand:
Australia and NZ:
- SYD – Sydney
- PER – Perth
- MEL – Melbourne
- AKL – Auckland
4. Book One-Way Flights on ‘Green’ Days
It is no secret that airlines often book cheaper flights on certain days, and this is your key to keeping your travel costs at a minimum which saved me thousands-of-dollars! I was able to book 19 flights around the world for less than $3,000 USD arranging flights on these ‘green’ days. I book one way tickets because they are cheaper to buy up front and allow me to purchase long duration trips incrementally as I continue working. Certain trips may give you better prices if you book round trip or multi-destination tickets, all something to research as you buy. Be flexible with your travel dates and use that inner impulse traveler for the cheapest price, because ‘green’ days happen all year. The best time to find these cheaper days is by booking tickets in advance, but there may still be opportunities for last minute availability. The length of time I spend at each destination orients around these days to get the best possible price for my ticket, and to extend my savings for the most destinations each trip.
5. Connect to Regional Destinations
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but basically don’t fly from Texas –> China –> Brazil –> Italy. Those flights are going to RUN YOU INTO THE GROUND and take all of your money. When traveling around a region with multiple countries close together like Europe or Africa, weigh the costs of flying to neighbor countries versus countries a couple over. Airlines know popular backpacker destinations like Europe are explored linearly so they hike up neighbor country flight prices. I saved hundreds-of-dollars covering similar regions in a zig-zagging pattern. This may not be true in all cases so do your research and look at all destination options before booking! Sometimes airlines have cheap flights to neighbor countries is cheap but do what fits your travel plans best and buy those tickets!
Another backpacker’s perk to travelling regionally gives you access to other modes of transportation like taxis, buses, trains, car rentals, and more you would not be able to access traveling between regions. I recommend researching all avenues of transportation as it is going to be one of your major costs abroad, and an area where you can save the most money. Europe, Asia, and Australia have amazing train networks to take you almost everywhere in those regions. North America, South America, and Europe have many long distance bus operators like Flix bus or Greyhound letting you see more of the country and for reasonable prices. Flix bus saves lives!!
- Book flights in pieces at least 6 months in advance.
- Decide which direction or destination is first, then build from there.
- Book major destinations and the most expensive legs first.
- There are more airlines and flight options travelling across the Atlantic making a West–>East trip more feasible and budget backpacker friendly, but do you boo boo.
- Connect through international airports in big cities with the most available flight options.
- Book one way tickets AND compare multi-leg prices.
- Book flights on ‘green’ days when prices are significantly lower, and plan travel around those dates.
- Fly regionally and plan destinations around cheapest options to save the most money.
- Assess other regional transportation options like trains, buses, taxis, and car rentals.
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