Learning to Find Really Cheap International Flights and Homestays

One of my goals as a world traveler has been to find really cheap flights and homestays, essentially to see the world and not pay much. My wife and I have been fortunate to work for organizations that provided flights or international travel allowances or vouchers.

We learned to take (generally much cheaper) regional or domestic carriers rather than international brand-name carriers, to stay in Airbnb.com rentals,  regular b&bs or college dorm rooms rather than hotels. We discovered we could spend a month in Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) or Africa (Ethiopia, Tanzania) for the cost of 10 days in Europe.

From UAE, we purchased flights to Europe, and Asia for $300 or less, including the Philippines, a 12-hour flight.

We preferred to spend months planning our own (very economical) itineraries, customized to our interests, rather than sign up with chartered one-size-fits-all tour groups.

However, we do believe there are some countries such as China, where English is not widely spoken, that we would prefer to take group tours. Alaska and the Baltic countries would probably be most economically seen on a cruise ship, to save on the high cost of food and lodging.

I’m not sure how I would tackle (expensive) Japan, South Korea, Australia or New Zealand.

Cost-saving resources we have used include:

  • an aggregator of low-cost international carriers: www.kiwi.com.  In 2017, I purchased two tickets from UAE to London, through Kiev, Ukraine, for $400 or $200 each. The same prices were available for Australia and New Zealand. The layovers tend to be longer, but if you have the time, worth the price.
  • House sitting and pet-sitting websites. One can stay for free in incredible places in UK and Europe and the US. https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/

    A British friend’s mum stays at chateaus in France using this service.

  • Railcard discounts for travel in UK.

We do not always find the most economical ways to travel, however. In the summer of 2017, England was shockingly expensive compared to the UAE, US, Ireland and Europe. I read that the pound had plunged in relation to the dollar compared to pre-Brexit levels, but it was still about 50% more expensive considering the exchange rates and fees. The pound was officially at about $1.31 when I arrived, but with ATM and exchange fees, the cost was closer to $1.49 (See pound/dollar exchange rates).

Taxis and trains were really, really expensive in England.

There has to be a better way!


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