Rather than buying multiple airline tickets to hit all the places you want to go on your next trip, likely overpaying and dealing with the added stress of multiple reservations, you, the well informed traveler can likely buy just one and get all the extra destinations for free. Nope, it's not listed on any page you've ever been to purchase an airline ticket, but many times flights include free stopovers along the way or at your destination. You just need to know about them. Kind of like a cool band. Here's how to search for them, book them and of course, maximize them...

Matrix Fare RULES.png

Searching...

I bet you've never looked at the "fare rules" for your ticket before. I'm not just talking cancellation fees, I mean all the rules. When you do venture in for a look, you'll find out about stopovers and mainly, whether you're allowed any. To search for the stopover rules, simply run a flight search on the ITA Matrix, click the fare you want to buy and next click "fare rules" (above) and then scroll down to "stopovers" You'll learn everything you need to know to add more free travel into your trip.

Maximizing

Maximizing a stopover is basically saving yourself the need to grab (pay for) a separate ticket to somewhere else you want to visit while traveling. If for example you're going to Hong Kong and stopover rules allow a free side trip to Vietnam or Bangkok for the same exact price, why wouldn't you? To fully take advantage of stopovers, use as many as they permit and plan an incredible trip around them. If you can take two in each direction, use them. Sometimes they can only be in the region of your destination, sometimes they can be somewhere in between, just read the rules to find out...

Booking...

To book a stopover on your own, you'll no longer be booking a round trip, you're booking a multi city trip. The best way to book that is to enter each segment individually on Google Flights, attempting to get your new multi city trip with stopovers to price out at the exact same rate as the price for the simple round trip. If for example we were going from Rio De Janeiro to London on our original ticket, but learned we could stopover in the USA in each direction, I'd search Rio to US, US to Europe, Europe to US, US to Rio. That's four segments, which should all come out the same price. 

Things You May Encounter...

Sometimes stopover rules are vague. That means some stopovers may only be for up to 23 hours 59 minutes, others may be for up to 59 days. In other cases one city may be allowed for a stopover, yet another one will not. Essentially, the only way to know what you can get away with (legally), you will need to play around. If after multiple attempts you cannot get the same or (near) the same price, try another city combo, try a shorter stopover and so forth.