When you plan to travel internationally for the first time, making your arrangements can be an intimidating task. Getting your passport, studying the basics of a new language, and trying to set up accommodations and transportation through a language barrier can make an overseas vacation seem more like a chore. When it comes to booking your flight to an international destination though, the planning is made simpler by the fact that not only carriers based out of other countries, but also U.S. carriers, offer international flights.
Get a passport for your trip if you do not already have one. Generally, you can apply for a passport at government locations, like post offices and libraries. Allow six to eight weeks for your passport, which will be mailed to you once your application is processed. If possible, don't book an international flight until you have your passport in hand in case of delays or other issues.
Go directly to the page of the airline that you prefer to travel or through which you have a frequent flier plan to see if the carrier offers flights to your international destination. Many U.S. airlines offer direct international flights, or partner with other airlines that offer international flights. Some U.S. airlines with international flights include Delta, United, Continental and American Airlines (see Resources.)
Check for flights through a flight-booking service to see which airlines offer flights to your destination and have flights available for the dates you want to travel. The Vayama search system specializes in international travel and has a flight-finder on the main page. Other international flight-finding and booking systems include Fareline International, Globester and OneTravel.
Enter your city of departure, your destination city and the dates for your trip into the boxes provided in the search feature on either an individual airline page or on a flight-booking service page. Click the “Search” button to find available flights. On an individual airline site, the flight options that appear are the different departure times throughout the day. On a booking service site, flights from different carriers come up in a grid, making it easy to compare prices.
Select a flight from the available flight options for your travel dates and enter your information to book the flight. Be prepared with the names of all the passengers for whom you are purchasing tickets, exactly as their names appear on their passports, passport numbers and birth dates. All this information is required at the time of booking for international flights.
Just like when you buy tickets for travel within the country, you can save on international flights by booking your tickets as early as possible and by selecting the option on a carrier's website that you have flexible travel dates. The carrier then provides you with several days before and after the travel dates that you enter and the fares for each date.