South America is considered by many to be one of the best continents for budget backpacking. Although visa costs for US Citizens and other nationalities are relatively high, local prices are not. While some regions, such as western Colombia are dodgy, most areas are extremely safe. Admittedly this is a bit of a generalization, but according to world travel experts, South America has the highest density of best backpacking countries in the world.
Unfortunately, getting to almost anywhere in South America can be expensive. One way flights from the US and Europe range anywhere from 1000 to 2000$ depending on your final destination. More, internal flights are expensive as well. However there are ways to get to South America for cheap.
As long as you’re willing to piece together flights and forgo a bit of convenience, you can get to South America, specifically Colombia, Peru, and Brazil, for relatively cheap.
General Tips On Finding Cheap Flights
When looking for the cheapest flights to any destination, be sure to implement the following search strategies.
1. Always look for flights on a wednesday. Statistically, wednesday offers the cheapest flights do to low demand during the work week, which drives prices down.
2. Search for flights after the holidays. September after the summer break and January and February after winter holidays are the best times of year to fly cheap.
3. Book your flight 2-3 weeks in advance. At this time, airlines often reduce prices in an attempt to fill seats. This works best on less traveled routes. To capitalize on this, watch for trends on your desired airline’s website.
4. Check search engines like Skyscanner and enter region to region in the From:/To: section. For example, From: United States to: Brazil. Also be sure to set the search to your desired month of travel rather than a single day.
5. Be sure to check prices on individual airline websites. Prices are often a few dollars lower than that of flight search engines like SkyScanner and Kayak.
6. Don’t be afraid to piece together flights on separate airlines. For example, a 168$ flight to Lima + a 300$ flight to Rio is considerably cheaper than a 600$ direct flight to Rio. Just be sure buy insurance in case of delays and connection problems. And if you have luggage, be sure to give yourself enough time to collect it before the next flight.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Colombia
Spirit Air offers flights as low as 90$ one way from Ft. Lauderdale to Categena, Medellin, and even Bogota. But if you’re looking for flights to more remote destination in Colombia, check out Jet Blue. Jet Blue promotes flights to Pereira and Bucaramanga for between 200-300 from Ft. Lauderdale and the New York City area.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Peru
When it comes to Peru, Spirit Air wins again. You can generally find flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Lima Peru for just 168$. Just be sure to book in advance. Additionally, as a budget airline, if you’re backpack, anything bigger than 40L doesn’t fit in the seat below you’re going to have buy luggage in advance.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Brazil
Finding cheap flights to Brazil has always been a challenge. The lack of air traffic and airlines servicing Brazil means airlines can charge a lot. Fortunately you can still find one way flights from Europe and North America for around 500$
From North America, check American Airlines and US Airways and the Santiago based airline group LAN. If you’re already in South America, LAN is also often your cheapest option. Other budget airlines to check out include Panamanian based Copa and Colombian based Avianca.
If you’re coming from the UK or Europe the cheapest flights connect through Lisbon, Madrid, and Casablanca. Be sure to check Iberia Airlines, TAP Portugal, and Royal Air Maroc.
The cheapest way to begin your adventure in South America is to fly Spirit Air or Jet Blue to Colombia or Peru. From there you can easily hitchhike or chicken bus it over to Ecquador, Chile, or Argentina. When it comes to domestic flights or flights Brazil you’re going to pay a few hundred dollars, there’s just no way around it. If you have any tips on flying to South America for cheap, let me know in the comments below.
Good luck and safe travels,