This route is known as the black hole, the place where all your money goes. And that’s just for economy. For business class, you’ll need to sell at least one organ. To help keep your money and organs in tact, we’ll examine a few tactics to save money on flights between the US and Australia, whichever direction you’d like to go…

Gateways

Small cities rarely get great flight deals. A preliminary crucial step in saving is searching from major gateway cities, especially those where airlines fiercely compete. Los Angeles, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Canberra and San Francisco receive rampant competition between the US and Australia and in most cases – the best deals will go to or from one of these places. Check the difference between booking a flight to or from one of those cities and separately booking an onward flight, if you’re going elsewhere in either country. It may instantly save hundreds.

Stopover

Many people have an “a-ha” moment when considering a stopover. Why not book a ticket to Asia, have a little rest on the way and then carry on with a different flight reservation to Australia or the US? Asia is one of the most competitive travel markets at the moment and flight costs to Asia from either starting point are incredibly low at the moment. By breaking the journey up into two parts, there’s potential for considerable savings. You also open up the possibility of getting out and seeing another part of the world en route. So yeah – consider booking a ticket from the US to a cool Asian destination, and then from there down to your Australia gateway, or vice versa.

Trackers

Ok – this isn’t route specific, but it’s the single best way to save on any plane ticket. Setting price trackers is free, it’s easy and it’s valuable. You can easily set price trackers on Google Flights, Kayak or Hopper. There’s no limit to how many you can set, or from which cities so you can constantly be in the loop on the best prices. If there’s a major unannounced sale, you’l be the first to know. Literally. Prices have been as low as $399 round trip – but they only last for a few hours. Price trackers are your best bet to get in. Other than checking our deals page daily…

Mix & Match

Don’t have enough points to go all the way? No problem. Keeping with the “break it up” idea, why not use your points to cover part of the journey. Perhaps you have exactly enough points to go from Australia to Asia or the Middle East – like Dubai, but not all the way to the US. Use points to cover the more expensive part of the journey and then see how much it would cost to complete the journey using cash. This requires some playing around and a bit of math, but if there’s an incredible fare to one place en route and you can get there for nearly free – why not?

Nearby

Melbourne and Sydney, Los Angeles and San Francisco: what do they have in common? They’re both less than a one hour flight from each other, often under $50 one way. If flight deals out of one or the other are vastly less expensive – consider booking from one of these nearby city options. Even with the extra ticket added in, you may still save a fortune. Just be sure to leave plenty of time to make your connection. Flights that aren’t on the same itinerary aren’t covered if things go wrong, so you don’t want to miss out.

Shoulder

Hoping to be in Sydney to catch New Years celebrations, or LA for the Oscars? Plotting your travels to occur during shoulder season, the period just before or after a major event can be a crucial savings tool. Approach any booking with as much flexibility as possible. If you can possibly land a week earlier or later, the potential for savings rises exponentially. This isn’t possible for everyone, but if you have the time to plug around with dates you may find excellent deals.

What’s your favorite tip?