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Booking Strategy

5 Epic Vacations You Can Actually Afford

Let’s go on a little journey, shall we? Say you’re dreaming about your next vacation, and you settle on Paris. You figure that as long as you’re going to Europe, you’d love to tack on a side trip or two, perhaps a few days each in London and Rome. Armed with visions of evening boat rides on the Seine, tours of Buckingham Palace, and gelato by the Trevi Fountain, you start looking for flights. However, the search process quickly devolves as you try to root out the best and least expensive way to visit the three cities in one go—you plug in dozens of different start/end dates and play with the order for each leg of the trip (is Paris to Rome to London the most financially savvy route? Or Rome to London to Paris?).

Ultimately, all you want is to find the multi-destination ticket that makes the most sense, but sorting through the muddle of search results, tabs, and inevitable pop-ups is enough to drive you bonkers. And here’s where the worst-case scenario may strike: you feel your burst of travel inspiration slowly start to fade away.

Nomad: The Game-Changing Multi-City Booking Tool

 screenshot of kiwi.com showing dates booking

Enter: Nomad, a brand-new travel tool from Kiwi.com that finds multi-city flights for the cheapest prices—Nomad makes the planning and booking process as fast, pain-free, and cost-effective as possible. The game-changing technology automatically figures out the cheapest way for you to get from point to point to point. For you, this means no decision fatigue, no gazillion open tabs for low-price ticket sites, and no pesky pop-ups for sketchy-sounding flight deals. Nomad takes all of the confusing guesswork out of would-be complicated flight shopping, and delivers to you the best flight combination at the lowest conceivable cost, all in about, oh, one second.

Here’s how it works. You tell Nomad the city where you want to begin and end your journey (your start and return cities can be different), and as well as the destinations you want to include on the trip. Select your start date, and give Nomad an idea of how long you’d like to stay in each city along the way. For any of the dates, you can be as specific or as flexible as you want—for example, you can set your start date as October 1, or put in a range spanning several months (for instance, “I want to make this big trip sometime in the fall”). Likewise, for the cities you want to visit, you can select a definite time frame (“two nights in Miami”) or allow for more open-endedness (“three to five nights in New York City”). Once you lay the groundwork, Nomad calculates the cheapest, easiest flight routes. (Writer’s note: I can honestly say that the first time I tested out the Nomad tool, I literally gasped when the results popped up. Nomad instantly pulled together a multi-destination trip at a price I likely would never have found on my own. It was like Nomad was personally making up for the hours and hours of my life lost to the online flight search struggle.)

Big Multi-City Itineraries, Little Prices

screenshot showing layovers on kiwi.com

Here’s a multi-city search across North America—from New York to Los Angeles, Miami, Cancun, and Vancouver, and back—with flexible dates. After rearranging the cities to determine the trip order with the lowest rates, the tool returned a $625 result for the five-city trip. The savings here are huge—round-trip airfare between just New York and Los Angeles can often hit $600—and the search was almost instant. With this Nomad result, you’re visiting four cities in the U.S. and Canada for little more than average cross-country airfare. That’s pretty cool.

Want to plan a European adventure with the Nomad tool? In this example we’ll make Atlanta our start/end city, with stops in Barcelona, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Budapest. This is the sort of complex journey that would ordinarily require a travel agent or a serious scouring-the-internet session full of trial and error. Instead, Nomad yields a flight package between all five destinations for $595, with four or five nights in each European city.

That’s a great price, but just for fun, let’s throw in Prague, too. To add a city, just click “modify journey,” add Prague to your “places to visit” section, and update your results. In this case, Nomad pulls a three-night (or up to five-night) stopover in Prague into your travel plan for a total of $577.

Looking to live that that London-Paris-Rome fantasy? Using New York as the start/end city, Nomad found several flights to Paris, London, and Rome for—wait for it—$359. Coming from the West Coast? We changed the origin/destination to San Francisco, and Nomad generated multi-city tickets for $397. Basically, the tool can easily do what humans can’t: unearth the cheapest, most logical way to fly to multiple places in one trip, and do it quickly. A caveat is that Nomad tickets often come with luggage restrictions, but that is pretty par for the course these days. And when the savings are this significant, it’s still well worth any additional baggage fees.

Epic Travel, Simplified

Planning to crisscross the globe by plane has always been an intricate and time-consuming undertaking, one that involves lots of comparison shopping, stress, head scratching, and maybe even a sit-down with a travel agent. Nomad simplifies the process—now researching and booking multi-part adventures anywhere in the world is pretty much as quick and simple as ordering your favorite barbecue sauce on Amazon. But a lot more fun.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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