Another Stamp in the Passport
Escape from Austin with these 5 international flights for $400 or less
Your tires have melted to the driveway, the A/C repair company has been to the house twice today, and you haven't been able to wear socks in weeks. It's time to get out of Austin.
But where to go? If budget is no option, just grab a first-class seat to Norway. But for the rest of us, spending a few grand on an airline ticket isn't feasible. Luckily, there's still a way to get a stamp in your passport without breaking the bank.
"I’m always telling people how amazing flights are from Austin," says Megan Lundquist, co-owner of Austin-based Legit Trips, which specializes in bespoke group travel. "For example, you can fly nonstop on Norwegian to London roundtrip for $400 or less depending on dates. I flew from Austin to Singapore for $424. Austin is gold, but I do think [the five cities below] are the best choices as they’re super consistent."
To get the best deal, Lundquist suggests the following:
- Book at least one month in advance. "However, if you want a last-minute trip, [book] at least seven days in advance. The general rule is that flights go up significantly one week before."
- Use a travel agent. "If I wasn’t a travel agent, I would ... use one. We’ve got a network of other agents and it’s very likely one of us has been where [travelers] are going and can offer firsthand advice. We’re also free. We get paid by the vendors and it costs you nothing."
- For holidays, the earlier the better. "Flights and hotels only go up all year as bookings come in more frequently."
- Track it, track it, track it. "I track everything on Google Flights to see the trend for those dates and book when I’m comfortable with the lowest price."
Austin is growing into a big city, but our airport is still pretty small, so some of these flights do include a layover. And while the prices are correct at press time, like everything to do with airline travel these days, they are subject to change.
Belize City, Belize
It's surprising how close this Central American destination is from Austin. Just a short flight (about three hours) and you're in paradise. Beginning in September, score a Southwest flight for $152 each way, though frequent Belize-goers know to double check Southwest's sales, too. The tropical climate, not to mention the second largest barrier reef in the world, make this country a must-hit destination for outdoor lovers. It also makes us want to ditch the traditional accommodations in favor of a unique Airbnb, like a night on this sailboat.
If you have ever dreamed of visiting Havana, here's an unsolicited piece of advice: just go. Most major airlines, including United and American, fly directly into Havana, but we've found the consistently best deals to be on Southwest. Book a flight in September and find deals starting around $150 each way. Most airlines also give you an option to pay for the required tourist visa when you purchase your flight, an option that saves time and stress. Once there, Lundquist recommends SiaKara bar for the singer and piano player. And don't forget cash is king in Cuba, so bring as much as you think is needed, then double it.
There is a pervasive sentiment in America that in order to see the world's great cities, one must exclusively travel to Europe. Sure, Rome, Berlin, and London are marvels in their own right, but Mexico City is a heck of a lot closer and doesn't involve jet lag. There are deals to be found all year, but Austinites can find flights on Volaris for less than $300 beginning in early September. Book a bed-and-breakfast — Condesa Haus and Chaya both come highly recommended — and bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes. With so much to see, you're going to get those steps in.
Todos Santos, Mexico
Beginning the last week in August, travelers can score a roundtrip ticket to this dreamy Mexican destination for less than $400 on American Airlines. Located where the Sierra de la Laguna mountains hit the Pacific Ocean, Todos Santos is a laid-back alternative to Cabo San Lucas and less touristy than Tulum. Check into the Hotel San Cristobal, the latest property from Austin-based Bunkhouse Group, and prepare to rest, relax, and recharge.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
One of the most beautiful spots in the world and summer highs in the mid-70s make this an Austinite's dream vacation. Snag a ticket in the mid-$300s on United beginning in August, and prepare to be enchanted. (Seriously, Vancouver is so magical it was recently named the third best city to live in the world.) For a true one-of-a-kind experience, book a room at the Skwachàys Lodge, a boutique hotel featuring different aboriginal art installations in each room.