Part 1: Finding hidden flight savings
A budget friendly Euro vacation? Is that even possible? Traveling abroad is more affordable than you think. And I’ve found a big secret the airlines aren’t sharing. One that can save you hundreds of dollars!
You won’t believe how cheap it really is to cross that Atlantic pond and it all starts with finding hidden flight savings. It will take some patience and homework; but, will be totally worth it in the end. You’ll be buying airline tickets to Europe for less than $700 round-trip, just like me!
Euro Vacation Backstory
I travel quite a bit for work and pleasure. But, I don’t write enough about those experiences even though I have an entire travel adventure section in my blog dedicated to this one amazing passion! Crazy.
This time, this trip – I just couldn’t resist.
Tell anyone you’re going on an extended 20 day Euro Vacation and watch facial expressions go from happy to shock to disbelief. Mouths gaping, they’re making so many assumptions – it’s written all over their faces.
My life, each year as I travel back home to re-energize. I head to Barcelona, Spain for some much needed R&R. Sand between my toes, tapas, terrazas, “una clara… o dos”, family, friends and call it a day. Funny how my basic needs change when I’m not “corporate Grace”…
This year was slightly different. We didn’t head straight to Barcelona. This summer, my daughter and I hit London, Paris, Zurich, Milan, Rome, Madrid first! Sounds so posh, right?! And yet, it was all very budget friendly. 😉
Budget Friendly Euro Vacation
Few people realize that you can travel on a budget anywhere, anytime. And no, you don’t have to wait for that hyped up Tuesday midnight time-frame to lock in a deal. Traveling can be quite affordable, if you do your homework.
Now, what’s hysterical is that if you Google “Travel to Europe on a Budget” you get estimates like $4,210.34 for two weeks. Ridiculous. Unless that’s your thing, of course. Me? I’d rather spend money on other things… like shopping. 😏
Truth be told, we did do quite a bit of shopping damage! All very well deserved after piecing together a fabulous Euro vacation that didn’t break this momma’s budget!
The Airline Secret: Don’t book round-trips!
The big secret to shopping flights? You purchase airline tickets separately and find the cheapest US departures cities and Euro arrival locations.
That’s right! DO NOT purchase round-trip tickets to your final European destination! You want to select one-way, least expensive US :: Euro routes NOT your final destination round-trip. Trust me, while traditional one-way tickets are horrendously expensive in the US – not so much abroad.
Be warned: while this is incredibly cost effective, it does require some work and lots of patience. It is not an easy breasy covergirl moment; yet, well worth it as you book one-way $134 flights to Europe!
Pro-tip: To offset any national travel costs, focus on accumulating loyalty points and miles. Today, all airlines, bus lines, trains, hotels have a point system. My Texas – Boston – NY – Texas flight costs were paid in full with airline miles. In my next post I’ll show you how to rack up those airline miles in just 12 months!
Step 1: Get Organized!
Getting this travel plan together takes some time. And, there are three tools that help me get organized and stay on point: Google Drive, Skyscanner and Google Flights.
- Google Drive – I use Google Docs for tracking data, itineraries, budget, etc. You have a lot of work ahead, use Google Docs to take notes and track options. I love using Google Drive because I can access these Google Doc pages from anywhere in the world at any time.
- Skyscanner – I just discovered this fabulous little website that allows you to select NO particular place to fly to giving you the upper hand in finding the sweet spot of cheap travel for the last 8 days. This made a HUGE difference in the money I spent this year getting to Europe.
- Google Flights – I’ve been addicted to this Google option for some time now. You can track so much great flight data via: date grids, price graphs, etc. You can also select “track prices” and get email alerts each time your saved/preferred flights go up or down.
Now, you are ready to find the best and most cost effective “US / Euro flight plan”. I live in Texas and mine are BOS (Boston), LAX (Los Angeles) EWR (Newark) for US departures/arrivals and the UK / Portugal for Euro arrivals.
Pro-tip: Don’t let traveling during the holidays intimidate you. Believe it or not, deciding when to travel has little bearing on the price of airline tickets these days. You just have to plan ahead, like I do.
Step 2: Euro Vacation Flight Plan Strategy
I used the Skyscanner website and my favorite airlines to determine which cities were the best for me to fly in and out of. Delta Airlines has a “Deals and Destinations” area on their webpage. United.com literally has a “Cheap Flight with United” section at the bottom of their’s.
Once you secure your ideal locations, you’re ready to book your two separate one-way tickets. One airline ticket will be from your “Preferred US City X” to “Preferred Euro City Y”. The other one-way will be your return flight from your final destination to a “Preferred US City”.
And don’t worry about getting to your final Euro destination. That’s the easy part! We’ll talk about that in a sec.
Pro-tip: To get from to and from these random US cities, you’ll use the airline super saver deals, miles and/or other means of transportation: e.g. MegaBus has $5 fares! You can make this work.
Step 3: Booking your Final Euro Destination
Okay, now that you have selected your flight to “Preferred Euro City Y” it’s time to get you to your final Euro destination. And this is the EASY part. There are so many cost effective options, you won’t believe it!
Here are some of the ones I used this summer:
- Euro / Regional Airlines: Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Veuling, Iberia, just to name a few. I flew with all except Veuling and boy, was I pleasantly surprised!
- Euro / Regional Trains: So many options here! We took Trenitalia – a speed train from Milano to Rome. Super cost effective and fabulous. Got a great online deal and upgraded to premium seats!
- Tourist Bus Lines: another great alternative! I am a HUGE fan of that big green bus, FlixBus. We took an overnight-er from Paris to Zurich – which saved us the French hotel stay and we woke up in beautiful Switzerland! Consequently, a definite win-win.
Pro-tip: Europeans love to travel and the airlines make it so easy! For less than the price of a tank of gas you can country hop. No joke! I’ll be sharing tips in a related post later this month.
Step 4: Proof’s in the Pudding
Still skeptical? Receipts don’t lie.
Check out our 2019 Norwegian Airlines receipts for the June Boston :: London / Barcelona :: Newark flights:
In this case, I was able to purchase four “non-round trip” airline tickets for under $1400! And because I had money left over, I bid and got us upgraded to Premium Class, similar to a business class on some regional airlines. Totally worth it, I might add.
My initial out of pocket for these four airline tickets was $1330.49. But, for another $571.61 I got us both upgraded to business! As a result, my total airline trip to and from Europe for my daughter and me cost $1902.10.
All things considered, had I not shopped around and just used “traditional” booking methods, I would of paid over $1000 for just one airline ticket to London.
Pro-tip: When flying with any airline, purchase the low-fare option first. You will always have the ability to upgrade for a fraction of the cost later.
What travel tips work for you? Leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you guys!.