Nine Days in Portugal for $1525

flight deals portugal travel travel-hacking

Getting Cheap Tickets

The first trick was of course getting to Portugal. Flights direct to Lisbon run about $1200+ per person for a round trip ticket. Instead of booking that way, we decided to work the system a little bit.

I had discovered, through the great resources at The Art of Non-Conformity, that the various airlines offer deals to select destinations on their websites. These deals don’t come up on the flight search engines like Kayak. So we simply waited until the week before our trip to see what American Airlines would offer.

Sure enough, an offer for a $250 one-way trip to Barcelona came up. Total round trip fare with fees and taxes: $625. That’s a bit more than half the usual fare on Kayak or Orbitz.

Of course, now we had to actually get to Lisbon. Also thanks to AoNC, I had learned that Europe has really good budget airlines. So I booked a flight on from Barcelona to Lisbon for $50. I was pretty astounded at the prices for those flights, but it wasn’t a deal or anything.

The one thing I think that really helped with planning this was our relative flexibility. Because we didn’t have any specific dates - just an approximate week-long period - we were able to take advantage of AA’s fare special and any deals that might come up with the budget carriers. Of course, we shopped around, but the only other airline with cheaper fares from Spain to Portugal was RyanAir, and sometimes, I’m willing to pay a bit extra for better service.


Thanks to my American Express Starwoods Preferred Guest credit card, and the points I’d accrued on it, we were able to spend two nights at the Sheraton Lisboa for the cost of my points plus $60/night. That turned out to be less per person than it cost to stay at the hostels. The Sheraton was our cheapest accommodation.

Incidentally, it was also the least welcoming or comfortable, but that’s life I guess.

Generally, of course, hostels are a better deal than hotels, so we saved a bit of money that way. The only way we could have done better is to have used As it was, we relied on a friend of my sister’s, whose family hosted us for two nights in Peniche.

Other Tips and Tricks

Some other ways we saved a little cash:

The biggest thing I learned from this trip was that travel is relatively affordable if you do it right. The travel industry tries to make it seem like it is necessary to spend a lot of money (probably because most of that money ends up in someone’s pocket), but you can do pretty well without worrying about all the extra stuff.

So if you want to travel, there really is nothing stopping you.

Also, a big thanks to Chris Guillebeau and his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. I got 80% of my travel tips and hacks from various of his articles and ebooks (sadly, I’m not an affiliate, so I don’t get money if you buy any of them, but they’re still really insightful and useful).

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Travel, Brave Warriors!

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