Before our [internetless] Namibia roadtrip I wrote about piecing together a round-the-world ticket using discount airlines.
It just shows that a ticket to Australia via Europe, the Middle East, and Asia is possible for $600. Amazing price! Plus, then you can complete the ticket back home via Hawaii for less than $1,200.
But the post didn’t really explain how I booked it!
There are different discount airlines in different regions, and there are routes known for being really cheap. So, I want to talk about how you can find your own super cheap trip with discount airlines.
The big thing I’m going to do here is either tell you the airline site you have to look on, or the search engine I use to find discount airlines (mostly Skyscanner.com). See, some of these discount airliners don’t allow their fares to be searched, and definitely don’t pay for another site to sell them.
I’m going to tell you the sites to look on, and for which routes you should be using which site.
Cheap tickets USA to Europe
A couple of details about these airlines offering cheap flights to Europe.
First, the checked bags are a little expensive. $40 – $70 per bag. Norwegian allows 10kg carry-on for free, and WOW only 5kg!
Prices on these airlines (based in Iceland and Norway) are way cheaper in winter, or at least the cold half of the year. March you’ll still see the advertised prices, but in July it will at least be double. It could still be a good deal, but at that rate you might as well use miles (or fly on an airline that earns miles).
Neither can be searched on other airline search engines.
This page on Norwegian shows the route prices for each season, from different places in the USA.
Norwegian destinations in the US:
- New York (JFK)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Oakland-San Francisco (OAK)
- Orlando (MCO)
They can connect you to a number of places in Europe including Oslo, Barcelona, Budapest, London, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw, and many more.
WOW is based in Iceland and provides cheap fares to Iceland and all over Europe… a lot like Norwegian.
WOW US Destinations:
- Boston (BOS)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Baltimore/DC (BWI)
- Montreal (YUL)
And they fly to many destinations in Europe including Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Rome and many more.
Other options, airlines, and routes…
I would say that most of the airline mistake fares I see are to/from Europe (likely because most people are searching there, and the fuel surcharges are always high and getting messed up). I’ve already talked about Mistake Fares a lot in my newsletter though (which is free to sign up for).
Discount Airlines within Europe
SkyScanner searches almost all the discount airlines, including the ones most important to me: Wizzair and Ryanair.
There are many others that have great prices on certain routes and most of those are listed on on SkyScanner as well. There are so many routes that are under $50 within Europe, it’s pretty incredible.
How I use SkyScanner
1) Start with your first European city
Start with the places you’re interested in going to with WOW, Norwegian, or whatever cheap way you found to get to Europe.
Let’s pick Rome because both discount airlines go there.
Also, I’m going to choose March because there are tons of cheap fares to Europe in March. So I’m assuming I’ll want to spend a week or so in Italy, could be less.
2) Choose that city to “Everywhere” and choose what month you’ll be leaving.
In this example, “Rome” to “Everywhere” in “March”.
3) Pick 4 places that you’d like to go next.
Take note of 4 cheap routes to destinations you’d be interested in going toward, on dates that you’d be willing to travel. To see the dates you’ll have to click through.
In my case the first super cheap options ($11 – $26) were all cool. I love Romania, and Italy, which are the two cheapest. But I’ll click through and check that I have 4 actually available on workable dates.
The destinations I picked (each country had multiple options) being:
- Bucharest, Romania
- Bari, Italy (I would like to go to Matera)
- Paris, France
- Athens, Greece (I don’t like Athens but the Parthenon is a must)
3b) If you aren’t “flexible” on where you go next, run the search again from that second destination.
Pick another place in Europe to fly to to continue on to step 4.
4) Search those 4 place to “Everywhere” to find a non-Europe destination.
If the goal is a round-the-world ticket, the next thing we need to do is start heading towards Asia. The next destination could likely be in the Middle East.
Now I’m going to plug the 4 destinations I chose above into Skyscanner as “Everywhere” for “April”.
The results showed a bunch of cheap Europe destinations first and then sometimes a few non-Europe for a little more money, but under $100.
My first try with Bucharest showed Israel and Dubai for under $100.
What I’m doing is writing down the prices for the different route combinations.
In a way it could resemble a decision making tree. If I do Romania I can then do Dubai. If I do Paris, I can then do Dubai for a little more money, or first go to Romania as an extra stop. That kinda thing.
5) Repeat, with the goal of going further east
Moving from the Middle East on east required the same process. I took my options, which ended up being Israel, Dubai, Beirut, and Egypt and then plugged them in, also for April, but looking for spots further east.
Also, there are cheap flights from Dubai to other destinations like Oman. You could go from one of those if they had cheap options to East Asia.
“___” to “Everywhere” in “April”.
From Dubai I got $100 flights to India (Mumbai, Delhi, etc..), Sri Lanka, and a few other Central Asia options.
Other options were much more expensive. Which means from Europe I can choose one of the options in Europe (like Bucharest) that have cheap flights to Dubai.
Or I can search for cheap flights to those places that have cheap flights to Dubai.
6) Repeat to get to South East Asia
From India and Sri Lanka I found $60 flights to Malaysia and $100 from Singapore. Same from India, plus some Thailand options.
Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand are now in the world of Air Asia…
AirAsia within and from SE Asia
Once your in SE Asia you don’t really have to worry anymore. You can get to any hub (BKK, KUL, SIN, SGN, HKG) for super cheap when it comes time to move on. So make sure to hop around wherever you want in SE Asia.
You can use SkyScanner to find flights if you want, as it will search other airlines too, but AirAsia’s site has great sales and displays that info well.
The other thing I’d add if you’re looking for tickets in advance, is sign up for their email. I constantly get emails about super sales, like $5 tickets if you can book months in advance. Generally their amazing sales require booking 4+ months ahead.
Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney are under $100 with their sales, and flights to Perth can be cheap as well, even cheaper from Bali.
So ending in one of these hubs, mainly their big hub, KUL, is the goal.
But since KUL is their main hub, flights from all over SE Asia are super cheap and often. This part is easy.
Australia -> Home
Everything so far can easily be done for under $600… which is amazing! That’s to Europe, across Europe, to the Middle East, to Sri Lanka/India, and to/around SE Asia. Even with the ticket to Sydney included, I got all that to price under $600.
However, the price of getting back to US is often much more. So you really have three options.
- Just pay the ticket home, knowing you still got a good deal.
- Fly to Hawaii for $250, then fly home. You’ll pay just as much but you added Hawaii.
- Use miles.
Believe it or not, oneway tickets from Australia and New Zealand to the US aren’t that bad. For $600 you can get back to mainland USA, which is the price of the ticket so far, but way less than you’d think.
In fact, $600 is less than half of a roundtrip. I’ve noticed that tickets from the US to Australia/New Zealand are more expensive than the return.
I just used the same SkyScanner searches to get back to the US. Again, the cheapest options are to Hawaii, but flights to LA and other west coast destinations are pretty reasonable. You might be then able to connect on another discount airline like Frontier or Southwest (which isn’t searched by SkyScanner) for less than just buying the ticket back to your hometown.
If you want to see the specific dates and flights in my examples of this round the world trip, including the flight back to the US for under $1,200, check out Round-The-World on Discount Airlines.
This post was about how, and that post is the results. It’s such a good deal that I thought it deserved the follow up.