One of these days, you’ll be rich and famous. You’ll deserve it too. Until then, flying away for an international vacay means thinking outside the usual discount-travel box. It’s easy to find dozens of dazzling destinations with just a few clicks, but the options quickly morph from enticing to overwhelming. Here’s how you nail down the lid on finding the best international travel deals like a trip-planning pro.

Fine Tune Your Timing

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Whether you’re flying off to meet that sensationally special someone or you’re just in the mood to hit the skies, timing is everything. You can book the next flight to Paris and arrive with a fried wallet. You can make that same trip in September with green to spare. Flexible scheduling is the key to unlocking travel savings, so think about flying the first two weeks of December or anytime in January after New Year’s Eve. If you’re committed to a definite and expensive calendar date, timing still counts. Airlines raise prices on all international flight bookings several weeks before their busiest seasons, so snatch up tickets a couple of months in advance.

Sharpen Up Shopping Strategies

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New online resources for scoring cheap international travel pop up every day, but stick with established sites that have it down to an Internet art. The better-known names offer power tools that let you drill deep and uncover price comparisons, different airlines’ availability, and alternate routes. When an international carrier can’t fill a flight, open seats hit the market, and they go fast. Airline computer systems adjust prices in real time, so sign up for email alerts that find cheap international flights at the last minute. Sure, it’s a lot like playing travel roulette, but the savings add up to serious chip money wherever you land.

Dig Into the Details

If you want to fly cheap to New York and conquer Carnegie Hall, you have to practice. Think of finding the best international travel deals as a pet project that can fund future wandering, and put your investigative talents to work. Which international airlines operate as budget carriers? Can you save by flying one airline in and another one out? Is that super-cheap destination really a good deal or just a weird location that never gets any traffic? The more you know, the less likely you’ll be to pull the trigger on something that you’ll regret. Dig into the details, and conquer the cheapest flights with confidence.

Unlock Backdoor Destinations

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The shortest distance between two points is usually the most expensive. Straight lines are boring anyway, so plan your trip to Rome around an arrival in Milan. This lovely Italian location is only 350 miles north of the Eternal City, and it’s also an affordable gateway into Germany, Switzerland and France. Are you dreaming of the mysterious Oriental East? Istanbul puts all points Asian on your compass. Do you hear the call of the Scandinavian wild? Answer it with cheap international flights through Copenhagen. It’s always a thrill to sneak through the backdoor, and it’s even better when you know you’re not paying full-price.

Getting there is a lot more than half the fun when your hard-earned money stays in your pocket. Don’t let the devil in the details drive you over a cliff and into a trip that costs too much. Beat him at his budget-busting game, and stash your saved cash for future flights. Once you know how to find cheap international flights, you don’t just do it. You nail it.