As a young professional, I'm on a tight budget. The most expensive part of any trip is the flight, so I had to find cheap airfare to meet my travel goals. Stops on my year of adventure include the South of France during lavender season, Mexico during whale shark season and Iceland during the autumnal equinox. So far, I've booked 11 of the 12 trips, most for less than $400 round-trip. My cheapest round-trip flight came in at just $70.
Finding cheap flights is not an easy feat. It can take a lot of time and effort. But if you're okay with being flexible on the dates and airports, you can save hundreds of dollars.
Below are some examples of the types of deals I've come across and the secrets to finding them.
The deal: $353 for a round-trip flight to Stockholm
The secret: Fly with budget airlines
Budget airlines get a bad reputation, as many travelers believe they'll be sacrificing quality for a bargain price. But those flying with budget airlines overseas might be pleasantly surprised. Italy-based Alitalia gives you two meals, a blanket and complimentary headphones on transatlantic flights, for instance. Colombia-based Avianca will take you from Lima to Cusco for less than $100, with snacks, drinks and a carry-on included in all fares and a meal on all international flights.
I booked a round-trip flight from Miami to Stockholm for just $325 with Norwegian, directly through their website. Norwegian charges extra for everything from your seat selection to water, so I bought food at the terminal and risked my seat assignment on the way there to minimize additional costs. I lucked out and got an aisle seat, but on the way home, I decided not to risk it and paid $28 to make sure I would have a window seat - bringing the total cost of my flight up to $353.
The secret: Get a travel credit card
One of the easiest ways to land a practically free flight is to sign up for a travel credit card, especially if you tend to pay your balance off in full each month. If you're apprehensive about taking on additional debt or living beyond your means, start small. Choose an airline specific credit card with a low spending threshold to earn extra sign-up miles. The reward can range anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 bonus miles depending on the card, which could cover a round-trip flight with that airline Also, don't scoff if you hear flight attendants peddling a credit card on a flight - these can often carry twice the bonus miles typically offered.
With my first travel credit card, I received 5,000 bonus miles for signing up and used those miles to buy a nonstop flight to Ecuador for $16, the cost of taxes and fees. I booked the return flight a few weeks later after accruing additional miles on my card, coming out to $129 for taxes and fees on the reward flight, for a total of $145 round-trip.
Before you sign up for a travel card, however, make sure you're aware of any fees, such as annual fees, and the interest rates that come with the card. The point of getting a rewards credit card is to reap a financial benefit, and there's enough competition that you should be able to take advantage of a promotional offer that doesn't include administrative costs.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)