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Strategies for Lower Airfares

Looking for cheap airfares for your big trip abroad but suffering from search fatigue? When all else fails, try one of these tested strategies.

We recently tested this approach for a round-trip between Houston and Sydney. Our initial searches on a few travel websites didn't turn up any nonstop flights between the two cities, but we did find multi-stop tickets. Delta's best fare between Houston and Sydney in November was $1,012, with a stop in Los Angeles. That caught our eye. If there's a large number of flights to Australia passing through L.A., then the City of Angels might offer bargain direct flights to Down Under—because the greater volume of flights often prompts a greater number of fare sales. So we checked out fares between L.A. and Sydney. It turns out they started at $652.

Next, we did a quick search for round-trip airfares on flights between Houston and Los Angeles. We found flights for $252, bringing our two-flight total to $904—for a savings of 11 percent over Delta's flight for $1,012.

If you decide to book two tickets on two different airlines, be sure to allow extra time to make your connections, and consider buying good travel insurance to make sure you're covered in the event of a problem. You can save money on insurance policies by buying them directly from an insurer, such as industry giant TravelGuard (travelguard.com), rather than through a middleman, who will charge a marked-up price.

Strategy #6: Shift your trip to another month
When all else fails and you just can't get the fare you want, think about off-season travel. In a guidebook, look up your destination's high (or peak) season, low season, and in-between (or "shoulder") season. Then travel at a time when your destination is less crowded—and travel costs are correspondingly lower. But don't get rained on: before you opt for a cheaper season, you'll want to know about the average weather, so search your guidebook (or a site like weather.com) for monthly trends.

Web searches on sample itineraries will also reveal which months are cheaper to visit your destination. For instance, we recently discovered that fares from Houston to Australia were as much as $800 lower in November than in January.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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