How To Search Long Layovers for Cheap Flight Tickets

Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets Fun activity
Imagine landing in Hong Kong for a couple days for almost free

As you may already know, there are several ways to find cheap flight tickets. Today I will show you how you can take advantage of ‘long layovers’ (stopovers) in order to acquire cheap tickets.

The reality is that most people have jobs and future commitments before leaving for their upcoming vacation. This means that they can’t be gone for too long. 

For example, most people go on a vacation for about one week. But if you spend 2 days on a layover before you arrive at your final destination, then it is assumed that you have lost two days of vacation. And depending on how you look at this situation, it may or may not be a bad thing. Everyone has a different situation.

But if you are fortunate enough to have extra time and do not have many future commitments back home, then you can absolutely take advantage of long layovers (stopovers). 

Imagine that you want to fly from point A to point B, and it will cost $X. Now imagine that you take advantage of these long layovers and stop for a couple of days in between point A and point B. The cost is still $X (possibly X+a little, or, X-a little). 

It’s almost as if you get to visit another country to explore, virtually for free. I don’t know about you, but I consider this an epic win! Pay close attention below, and you will absolutely learn how you can find cheap flight tickets by simply taking advantage of long layovers / stopovers.

Steps to Book Cheap Flights with Long Layovers (Stopovers)

  1. Determine Your Origin & End Destination with Dates
  2. Enter Details into the AW Flight Meta Search Engine
  3. Choose How Many Days You Want to be ‘Stopped Over’
  4. Select From List of Potential Layover / Stopover Locations
  5. Adjust Search Filters
  6. Choose Flights, Book Flights, Enjoy!
Learn how to travel cheaply using Stopovers.

1) Determine Your Origin & End Destination with Dates

The first step is to basically determine which airport you will be flying out of and which airport that you will be landing in. I encourage you to be a bit flexible with this, also. If you are flying out of a large city, there is a chance that there are 2 or even 3 airports in the area. Be open to flying out of any of them. This simply will give you greater chances of finding cheaper plane tickets. The same goes for the destination airport as well. There may be 2 or 3 in the area. Be flexible. If you are unsure where to fly, be sure to learn how to choose a country to visit.

2) Enter Details into the Flight Meta Search Engine

Once you have determined your origin and destination, simply enter it into the AW Search Engine. A new option will appear. You can now enter how many days that you wish to Stopover as well as which country you want to Stopover in.

Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets step 2 enter enter in to search engine
Your origin and main destination.
Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets step 3 button
This button allows you to adjust the length & location of your Stopover

3) Choose How Many Days You Want to be ‘Stopped Over’

After entering the origin and destination, choose how many days you wish to be on a layover in between the origin and destination. You can choose between one and three days.

Cheap Flight Tickets step 3 choose how many days stopover
Choose how many days to be ‘stopped over’

I prefer 3 days. Why? It is not very often that you get the opportunity to visit a country for little or virtually no cost. Take advantage of it. Stay there for as long as you can, in my opinion. Hopefully you have enough available time to do so. 

4) Select From List of Potential Layover / Stopover Locations

After entering the origin and destination into the search (point A & B), you will now be able to see which countries are available to Stopover in. Surprisingly, there are usually quite a few to choose from.

The price that is indicated on each Stopover possibility is an estimate of how much additional that you may pay by stopping there. Sometimes the price is actually cheaper (strange, I know)!  Imagine being ‘paid’ $30 or something to visit a new country. So cool!

Stopover with Cheap Flight Tickets step 4 choose layover stopover location
I only took 1 photo…there were actually many more Stopover locations to choose from!
Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets Step 4 search
After you select the Stopover locations, click on ‘search’

5) Adjust Search Filters

There are a few searching filters that are particularly important. I believe the 3 most important are landing time, lay over lengths, and how many layovers.

  • How Many Layovers – You may want to fly from point A to point B (with one Stopover), but it may be rather annoying to stop 4 different times in between point A and your Stopover destination. I usually select one stop to make the journey more manageable.
  • Layover Length – If your trip requires a layover before you arrive at your Stopover, it is definitely helpful to reduce the length of the layover as much as possible. Nobody wants to spend 19 hours sitting on a bench while waiting for your next flight. Simply use the search filters to reduce the length as much as possible.
  • Landing Time – If you arrive at 6 p.m. to your Stopover destination, it is near night time and you will be ready to find a hotel rather than go and explore. This, to me, is a waste of time. If possible, try to arrive between 4-9 am. To me, this is about the perfect time to start your journey into the Stopover country. You can find your pre-hired tour guy or find a tour guide at the airport to start your adventure!
Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets step 5 adjust search filters
My favorite filters are # of layovers/stops, length of layovers, & landing times.

6) Choose Flights, Book Flights, Enjoy!

Although this particular website it’s not a booking website, they will provide you with a link that will take you directly to the booking website(s). Very convenient. After you finish booking your cheap flights, you are done. Simply wait for your travel dates to arrive!

Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets Step 6 Select Flights
Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets Step 6 Review flights 1
2.5 days in Paris? Yes, please!
Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets Step 6 Review flights 2
3.5 days in Rome? Yes, please!

After you finish purchasing your plane tickets, you should now insure yourself against potential losses. Be sure to learn more about why Travel Cancellation Insurance is So Important (seriously).

Why Are Long Layovers (Stopovers) Cheaper?

I believe that long layovers are cheaper for 2 reasons:

  • Airlines are able to minimize their financial risk by flying shorter distances. If an airline were to fly nonstop from one side of the world to the other, but not every seat was booked, then the airline company would miss out on large potential profits. Flying short distances increases the chances of filling the seats, and therefore, minimizes the financial risk.
  • Generally, most people are not interested in long layovers (Stopovers). Most people want direct flights. So, I believe the cost of these particular plane tickets are priced less to induce a sale. Taking advantage of long layovers may help you save a lot of money. 

Can You Leave The Airport During a Layover (or Stopover)

Generally, yes. This is completely dependent upon which country you are from, which country you will have a Stopover in, and if you have a Visa prepared in advance or not. There are some tourists who are able to land in a country and get a tourist visa on arrival and do not need to prepare in advance. 

There are other people (from a different country) who want to visit that same location but are legally not permitted to get a visa on arrival. Everything must be done in advance before they leave their home country. There are many rules and regulations surrounding visas. Be sure to do your homework before you leave home. 

Stopovers with Cheap Flight Tickets random location
Imagine having a stopover in China for a few days at no additional cost

Are Long Layovers Worth It?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Time is usually the largest factor in this particular decision. If you have a lot of time on your upcoming vacation (for example, 2+ weeks), then a Stopover may absolutely be worth it! But if you are limited to only a 1 week vacation and really want to visit one specific country, then a long layover (Stopover) may not be a good option.

Example 1: If your final destination is Rome, Italy and you have never visited that location before…and you have wanted to go for the last 10 years – but you only have a 1 week vacation…then a long layover may not be something that you should consider. Choosing a flight to get you from point A to point B as soon as possible will be your best option.

Example 2: If you have a 1 month vacation and your final destination is Rome, Italy – then having a long layover (Stopover) in another country will not be a big deal at all. In fact, many people (including me) would desire this! This will allow you to go out and explore an entirely different country for possibly 2-3 days!

Why Stopovers Are Awesome

Honestly, if you are anything like me, your goal is to simply continue traveling the world. Taking advantage of long layovers (stopovers) is one of the coolest things ever! I can’t think of a better way to be able to visit a country for virtually free. This method is particularly unique.

The next time you have a little bit of free time, I challenge you to do this test: Build a round trip itinerary while stopping over in 2 unique countries. Take notice of the price.

Now, do a search and determine how much it would cost to fly to those countries individually from the airport closest to your home. You will see that it is quite expensive to fly directly from your hometown to these other countries. When you subtract the costs from each other, you will see how much money that you can potentially save. Stopovers are awesome and they have the potential to help you find really cheap flight tickets and save a lot of money. 


Hey - I'm Brock. I grew up in the USA, and I have been a full-time Solo Traveler since June of 2016. I am also a Travel Vlogger on YouTube where my primary focus is to simply hang out with local people around the world. My full story is here: About Me

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