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5 Unorthodox Ways to Save Money on International Travel

By JD / February 22, 2018

Unless you're using a  premium introduction agency to meet women overseas, airfare is likely to be your largest expenditure while dating internationally.  Airline prices can be volatile, and much of the expense simply depends on where you live and where you want to go. 

However there are some ways to help mitigate the price of a round trip ticket to your country of choice. In this post we look at a few unorthodox methods you can use to help you save money while traveling abroad.

1) ITA Matrix & Google Flights

Chances are you've probably heard of Google Flights, and for good reason. It's one of the easiest and most effective tools for finding the best flights. It's my personal go to for international travel. 

A Closer look

How to use Google Flights

Most people don't know about the software behind Google Flights, or that it provides even more search options, and is more customizable than Google's popular flight finder tool.

The ITA Matrix, is a software developed in the 90's by some folks at MIT.  The ITA pulls the flight info, routes, and prices from airlines all over the web and conveniently puts them in one place, so that you can easily compare the prices, possible routes, and dates.

Like Google Flights you can even book flights for multiple cities (up to 6!), and choose between round trips or one way tickets.

ITA Matrix software allows you to browse the cheapest dates and routes to your desired destination

The ITA software was eventually bought by Google, and is now used to power Google Flights. 

The IPA Software is what powers Google Flights

Think of Google Flights and the ITA Matrix as two different versions of the same software. Google Flights is a little more user friendly and conveniently provides links for you to purchase tickets for the flights you browse. 

The ITA Matrix doesn't provide any links to actually purchase tickets (you'll have to go to the individual airline sites to do that), but it's search engine is much more customizable than Google Flights. 

Unlike Google, the ITA Matrix allows you to use different codes that will refine and limit your search for flights.

After a short learning curve ITA's search codes make it easy to find your best flight options

A Closer look

An in-depth look on how to use the ITA Matrix to find the cheapest flights

How to access the ITA's search codes

Under the "Departing from" and Destination" boxes click "Advanced controls"

Now you should see new boxes for "Outbound routing codes", "Outbound extension codes", etc. Next to these new boxes are questions marks. Click one of these question marks. 

Now you should see a yellow tab with info on what the codes are, what they mean, and how to use them. 

Google Flights vs ITA Matrix

If you don't need the customizable search features of the ITA Matrix then you'll probably be fine with Google Flights. Both are free to use

Also note that while the majority of airline routes are included in these searches, some are not (most notably Southwest in the USA).

Also make sure you keep track of travel restrictions and the visa requirements of the places you intend on traveling to. These airline search engines won't help you with that sort of info.

2) FlightFox

Flightfox is an interesting alternative for those looking to find the best possible price on airline tickets.  Their business model is simple: You send them your desired flight itinerary, along with the cheapest quote you could find for that trip. 

Then FlightFox's team of travel researchers do their best to beat that quote. If they can't beat your quote by more than the fee they charge (Usually $50), then you don't pay FlightFox anything. 

Where most web-based travel search sites are completely automated, FlightFox does their research the old fashioned way: with real people.  According to their site FlightFox's researchers are travel experts and know the ins and outs of airline prices that most of us regular people don't. 

I've never personally tried FlighFox, but it is a very intriguing option. If their guarantee is true then there's certainly no harm in trying them out. 

3) Abroaders

Abroaders is a nifty little site that I have successfully used to save a few hundred dollars on international travel. If you have a  decent credit score and spend a fair amount each month on your credit card, then they might be able to help you rake in some serious bonus miles. 

Their service is completely free to use. You simply fill out some information; such as where and when you want to travel, how much you spend per month on a credit card, and an estimate of your credit score range, etc. 

In a day or two someone from the Abroaders team will look over your profile and recommend credit cards with the best potential of getting you eligible miles toward your next trip. 

They work on getting the best value for your budget, as well as helping you find the credit cards with flier miles you can actually use. 

Abroaders makes money when you successfully apply for one of their credit card recommendations (their site works like an affiliate of the credit card companies). Again you don't pay them anything to use their service.

4) Tripcombi

Tripcombi is a German based company who provides a free flight search engine which uses special tech (algorithms or AI I'm not sure), to combine flight routes in unorthodox ways. 

Mostly the site includes routes and cities that are often hidden from other travel search engines. Usually these cities and routes are less prominent and thus cheaper. Tripcombi claims to find up to 500x times more flight combinations than typical flight search engines. 

I used Tripcombi to look for flights from NYC to Kiev a few months out and found some fairly affordable prices

Whether or not Tricombi saves you money will be dependent on where you're going. Again the site is free to use so it can't hurt to check it out! 

5) Kiwi.com (My story using it)

Kiwi searches for the cheapest possible flight option regardless of whether or not the route uses the same airline or codeshare. This means that Kiwi can, and often does, find you the absolute cheapest options....but there are some catches (after all you tend to get what you pay for).

I used Kiwi once to get me from Warsaw to Cleveland. I was thrilled to see a one way ticket for just over $300. There were a total of four different flights with three connections (one of which was a 12 hour layover).

I also read the fine print and realized that because my flights were on different airlines I would have to recheck my bags for each connection.  

None of this deterred me and I started the process of ordering the ticket. Before checking out I realized that the price went up to just over $500. Evidently the $300 quote did not include checked luggage. This made sense because most budget airlines make their money off of luggage fees. 

Even with the luggage fee the ticket was still cheaper than my other options by about $70. I decided to by the ticket. 

In the end I made it to my destination all right, but the entire trip was pretty stressful. I had to recheck bags at an international border with only an hour and a half between flights. If I missed one flight I would miss all of the flights and be forced to buy a 2nd more expensive ticket.

Kiwi offers a guarantee that they will refund your ticket price or refund your money if you miss a connecting flight from a delay, cancellation, or schedule change on the airline's part. FYI: there's a lot of fine print that goes along with that guarantee. 

A Closer look

A Customer Review WARNING About Using KIWI.com

You have to be smart and thoroughly check and double check your travel arrangements with Kiwi. They are not your friend. They will try their hardest to not refund your money should an issue come up. They also don't do a very good job of warning about checked baggage fees, short lay overs, or possible visa issues.  

So watch your back and make sure you know what you're getting into. Kiwi does save you money but because of the added stress of having to check and triple check your itinerary, recheck your bags,  and catch so many connecting flights, I don't think I'd use them again. I'd rather just pay the extra money for piece of mind.  

If you're hellbent on saving a buck then you might want to consider uing Kiwi. 

Final thoughts

 These are some of ways of saving manoey I came across while researching international travel. You can use this list of sites and resources to try to knock down the price of your airfare as much as possible.

Remember, airfare is usually the most expensive part of dating abroad. Any money you can save while doing it goes a long way.

I'm not exactly a travel expert, so there are probably other useful tools out there as well. If you know any other notable ones feel free to share them in the comments!


About the author

JD

Founder of FWHL. When JD's not writing articles he's probably practicing his Russian or trying to play AC/DC on his guitar.

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