the simple way we book international round trip flights for under $400 a ticket

the simple way we book international round trip flights for under $400 a ticket // step by step instructions on how to find the cheapest international flights out there! | via The Spirited Violet

We’re going to Ireland this year and we went to five countries last year.  We’ve done both trips extremely affordably.  From what we learned last year about buying tickets, we were able to get tickets for under $380 round trip a person after tax to Ireland this year!  When I’ve told people that, I’ve had a lot of people assume that we’re going on airlines that make us pay for individual luggage etc.  However, this is not the case!

This is the simple way we book international round trip flights for under $400 a ticket with MAJOR airlines.  This has been such a fun adventure for us to figure out and we’ve loved passing the information on to others.  And yes, it totally works!

the simple way we book international round trip flights for under $400 a ticket // step by step instructions on how to find the cheapest international flights out there! | via The Spirited Violet

Begin looking early

We started looking DAILY to find these trends and information in January.  The more time you have to look, the better.  Additionally, by looking daily on my suggested tips below, it ensures you can find the trends for the year and really get the cheapest deal.

Be flexibile

When we travel, we aren’t very specific.  

We just choose from summer time to December as our times to leave and we don’t care about location.  This enables us to get very cheap ticket prices just because we don’t care when we go and we aren’t being picky!  Non-tourist times will be cheapest, but I certainly am excited that we are not visiting the Mediterranean during a heat wave in July again (OH MY GOSH).

When we are flying to Europe, our goal is to look for the cheapest tickets, period. For us, everywhere is an adventure and a new place to visit.  If you have a super specific place or time in mind these tips will be helpful, but probably not as a cheap.

Go to SkyScanner.com for trends

We found that SkyScanner.com does a great job at giving historical data for ticket prices.  Most websites show you trends for tickets for about a week, but SkyScanner.com does information for 15 days which is super helpful!  We were able to see from this information which countries were cheapest for the year.  However, when you click the ticket prices it can be a little confusing because it doesn’t show current ticket prices.  Rather, you only see past ticket prices.

Here’s how to do it!  Look in the caption below each picture for step by step instructions.

Put in your location, round trip, and then hover over “To.” When you hover over “to”, click “Flexible.” Put in any additional information that you need.
After you have clicked “Flexible”, go to the “Dates” section. Click on “Whole Month” and then click on “Cheapest month.” This will ensure that the cheapest trends are shown to you regardless of location or time!
These are some of the rates shown on SkyScanner.com . They show trends from the last 15 days and also have email updates you can sign up for from this same page. I am doing this search in April for this post, but prices were much cheaper earlier in the year. We began looking daily in January. We found SkyScanner.com super helpful in helping us see overall trends of flights.

The two years we have looked, there are different countries that are cheaper every year in Europe. A few times we have looked on this website, this page says “Get Prices” instead of the prices. I’m not positive, but I’m guessing this is when their website is running their search engines. Just check back in a few more minutes and it is usually updated!

Go to Kayak.com for ticket prices

We end up searching Kayak.com everyday to check tickets and then eventually buy them (let’s be honest, this is the fun part!).

The default on Kayak.com is often set for hotel searches. Make sure you click “Flights” up at the top of the page before you begin. The default for Kayak.com is also roundtrip tickets so we’re going to go ahead and look that way as well. After you put in your home airport information click on the “To” location and then click “Anywhere.”
Since our vacation time can be used from summertime until December, I click “Any Month” to find the cheapest options. After you fill out the information you need, click “Search.”
I saw from the SkyScanner.com trends earlier which countries would probably be cheapest. Now is the fun part- actual ticket prices for TODAY. The map will start out showing the US. Just click and drag over to the part of the world you want to go to – in this case, I picked Europe. You’ll notice I found the cheapest countries here- these are the tickets I will now track everyday for weeks until they are under $400 (start searching in January!).

Click on the flight that you’re interested in pursuing. In this case, I picked “London.” Then on the right side of the screen, click “Find Flights.”
Set up price alert reminders here. I’d recommend setting them up on several different countries you would like to visit. Click the “X” on the right of the price alert box OR put in your email before going to the next step.
The price alerts are helpful, but what is REALLY helpful is the “Our Advice” section. After we missed our first flights to Ireland for under $400, we kept seeing to wait. We ended up waiting for a month and BAM, the tickets were there again.

Buy your tickets

Once you have found tickets within your desired price range, don’t sit on them a long time!  If you have the budget for the trip, just buy the tickets!  The best time to purchase tickets are morning, but if you want the good deal on tickets you have to buy them THAT DAY.  It is a bit of a gamble if you keep waiting for cheaper tickets, but by using the last step you can often see if it is worth it.  The first time we found our tickets to Ireland under $400 each round trip, we spent time thinking about it.  It took over a month before the price was actually that low again and we really risked it not ever being that low again this year.

One of my friends said that after the Pacific coast wakes up (two hours behind us in Atlanta) that he noticed tickets were going faster.  I personally noticed that tickets were going faster around the time people got off work.  Both of these tips seem pretty logical.  When we bought our tickets to Ireland, my in-laws bought their tickets within the hour and my parents took just a couple of hours; my parents aren’t on the same plane on us and could have easily missed the deal.  I’ll be honest that I was definitely nervous until I received the confirmation that everyone was going to be able to fly with us!


We love going on adventures both through road trips and internationally and these are some tips that have made it a lot easier for us to go abroad!  I’ve been day dreaming about Ireland ever since we booked our tickets a month ago because it has always been a dream for me to go there.

I’d love to hear if you have any additional tips on booking international flights in the comment sections below!

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    What are your thoughts on the all inclusive trips Groupon deals? Derek and I were looking at Paris in the fall for $1600 for the two of us and it includes hotel and airfare… that seemed incredibly reasonable to us, but figured we should get an expert opinion 😉

    • If you get tickets as cheap as ours, you could totally get it cheaper by finding a hotel or air bnb elsewhere. However, I think the groupon deals are super good if you aren’t interested in hunting the tickets down haha. I have noticed most of the tickets for Groupon deals are in off season so you likely could save some money.

    • I’ve flown to Paris many times, from several different airports, and only once have I gotten round-trip fare for less than $1000. So I would normally say that $1600 for two flights and airfare is a fabulous deal, especially if it’s for direct flights.

      However, with the recent terrorist attacks, it’s entirely possible people will be less eager to go to Paris, and thus tickets could drop further.

      One last thing to consider when comparing prices is how much vacation time you have. It might be better to pay more for a direct flight than save money with a long layover–unless you turn that layover into its own mini vacation!

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    What are your thoughts on the all inclusive trips Groupon deals? Derek and I were looking at Paris in the fall for $1600 for the two of us and it includes hotel and airfare… that seemed incredibly reasonable to us, but figured we should get an expert opinion 😉

    • If you get tickets as cheap as ours, you could totally get it cheaper by finding a hotel or air bnb elsewhere. However, I think the groupon deals are super good if you aren’t interested in hunting the tickets down haha. I have noticed most of the tickets for Groupon deals are in off season so you likely could save some money.

    • I’ve flown to Paris many times, from several different airports, and only once have I gotten round-trip fare for less than $1000. So I would normally say that $1600 for two flights and airfare is a fabulous deal, especially if it’s for direct flights.

      However, with the recent terrorist attacks, it’s entirely possible people will be less eager to go to Paris, and thus tickets could drop further.

      One last thing to consider when comparing prices is how much vacation time you have. It might be better to pay more for a direct flight than save money with a long layover–unless you turn that layover into its own mini vacation!

  • I absolutely love this! Your tips to me in person (and now here!) have come in so handy, and I think you’re part of why and how we were able to book our trip this fall! Tom actually found the tickets on one his own deal hunting sites (haha typical) but nevertheless, we are totally addicted to Kayak thanks to you! I think we’ll be visiting family at much more affordable times too.

    • We’re totally going to start using this more for trips out to Utah etc. I’m glad you’re getting to go somewhere awesome this year!! 🙂

  • I absolutely love this! Your tips to me in person (and now here!) have come in so handy, and I think you’re part of why and how we were able to book our trip this fall! Tom actually found the tickets on one his own deal hunting sites (haha typical) but nevertheless, we are totally addicted to Kayak thanks to you! I think we’ll be visiting family at much more affordable times too.

    • We’re totally going to start using this more for trips out to Utah etc. I’m glad you’re getting to go somewhere awesome this year!! 🙂

  • Christina Guariglia Strickland

    Hmm…I haven’t ever used kayak it never seemed to open right on my tablet when I tried but after reading all these tips…for our next trip I’m going to try again! Along with the other sites! Thank you 🙂

    • We always used these tips on a computer. We found not as much info comes up when this is done on a phone. Good luck!! 🙂

  • Christina Guariglia Strickland

    Hmm…I haven’t ever used kayak it never seemed to open right on my tablet when I tried but after reading all these tips…for our next trip I’m going to try again! Along with the other sites! Thank you 🙂

    • We always used these tips on a computer. We found not as much info comes up when this is done on a phone. Good luck!! 🙂

  • This is so awesome Autumn! Thank you for sharing this. We sat down last night to do this whole process so we know what to look for come next January.

    • I sure hope it helps!! We’ll definitely be checking it out for domestic flights in the future. I’m excited to see where you go!

  • This is so awesome Autumn! Thank you for sharing this. We sat down last night to do this whole process so we know what to look for come next January.

    • I sure hope it helps!! We’ll definitely be checking it out for domestic flights in the future. I’m excited to see where you go!

  • That’s a really good deal! We live in Malaysia and our family is in the USA–so for that trip there’s not much flexibility in destination! For the upcoming trip, we got open-jaw tickets with a domestic leg in between that allows us to visit CA and TX–Kayak definitely made those easy to book!

    • That is absolutely amazing you’re going to be able to visit all of your family!!! I can’t imagine how much you must miss some parts of the US (or if you do). You’d be the coolest person to sit down and have lunch with 🙂

  • That’s a really good deal! We live in Malaysia and our family is in the USA–so for that trip there’s not much flexibility in destination! For the upcoming trip, we got open-jaw tickets with a domestic leg in between that allows us to visit CA and TX–Kayak definitely made those easy to book!

    • That is absolutely amazing you’re going to be able to visit all of your family!!! I can’t imagine how much you must miss some parts of the US (or if you do). You’d be the coolest person to sit down and have lunch with 🙂

  • WOW!!! This is amazing!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I can tell I’m going to be coming back to this over and over to book my next vacations!

  • WOW!!! This is amazing!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I can tell I’m going to be coming back to this over and over to book my next vacations!