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How to Find a Free Stopover—or Even Save Money By Taking One

SmarterTravel

Finding a free stopover on the way to a city you’re visiting means getting an extra destination out of a trip for little to no extra money—or it could even save you some cash. Meaning, it could actually pay to add a day or more in a new city to your vacation.

A stopover is a 24-hour or longer stop in an interim city, which often means taking advantage of two cheaper routes instead of a direct, more expensive route to your destination. This is especially true when you’re flying between two large air hubs that might not directly connect on many airlines—and you could save more than enough money to pay for the hotel stay.

And did I mention it means being able to cross another entire city off your to-do list?

I recently had this experience booking a flight between two large but mismatched air hubs: Boston and Cairo. Making a one-day pit stop in Rome on the way to Egypt saved me about $160, which in my book is definitely enough for a night in a hotel. And there were plenty of other cities that were even cheaper to stop over in—I just decided Rome was the most worthwhile to me.

How did I find out which cities’ stopovers would save me money? At first I spent hours on Google Flights, toying with the seemingly endless combination of flexible dates and multi-city flight options. Until I stumbled upon a site that would tell me what my cheapest multi-city flight options were: Airwander.

Airwander is a stopover search engine that will use your travel dates and airports to suggest stopover cities and reveal how much you could save, depending on the number of days you’re willing to spend there. Entering my preferred travel dates and Boston and Cairo’s airports, Airwander showed me that I could save over $300 by stopping in bucket-list spots like Malta, Mallorca, and Barcelona. For just a little less money back I could choose Istanbul, Amsterdam, or Athens.

You can toggle the number of days you’re able to spend on a stopover to see what your best options are, and Airwander shows you how much you can save. You can pick a destination, or leave it or your dates open-ended for recommendations. If a stopover isn’t going to save you money as the ones above do, Airwander will show how much extra it’ll cost denoted by a plus sign (instead of the negative amounts above) or a zero.

Searching all those routes on your own would take hours—and I know because I attempted it. Spend a few minutes checking Airwander instead, and you can spend the rest of that time planning fun activities in your stopover city.

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SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_.

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