First off. Our trip in June 2015.
We were considering London, Paris and Rome. When planning, I discovered that Dublin was much cheaper to fly into than any of the other cities, so we decided to swap London for Dublin.
Flying into London and out of Rome was about $1,650. Plus about $60 for the Eurostar from London to Paris, then $100 to fly from Paris to Rome, so we'll just call the total $1,800.
This is the main flight to London and coming home from Rome. It doesn't include London to Paris or Paris to Rome.
This is the main flight to Dublin and coming home from Rome. It doesn't include Dublin to Paris or Paris to Rome.
Doesn't save much, does it? This is a return flight to and from Dublin.
Pretty huge jump, right?
A flight to Paris from Dublin was $80, Paris to Rome was $60 and Rome to Dublin was $110. That brings our total for all flights to exactly $1,200 as opposed to the other option of $1,800, which saves $600 each.
When it's coming from one bank account - that's a savings of $1,200 which is pretty damn substantial to us. Sure, we didn't get to go to London but we'd both already been. Plus, we could have added London in before Paris and it would have only cost us an extra $100 each in flights, and that would have still been a total savings of a thousand dollars.
So I just wanted to share that way first, just in case you are planning a trip to Europe and Dublin is close to where you want to go. We flew to Paris a few hours after we arrived in Dublin, it was just booked separately. Because it's booked separately, you run the risk of missing your 'connecting' flight and being up a certain creek without a paddle. I was worried about this, but we had zero problems. I left like 6 hours in between though, I wouldn't cut it any shorter. We also didn't carry on any bags, so it wasn't an issue.
You can always book it on the same ticket using a multiple city option like on expedia. That way you are covered if you miss your flight. It's a little more expensive, but it comes with peace of mind which is priceless to some.
This time, the plan was Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brugge (Bruges) and Brussels. I tried several different itineraries, but flying into Dublin just wasn't going to work this time. As you can see below, the order I have listed above makes the most sense logistically.
Flying into Munich and out of Brussels is $1,700. Ouch! I had planned on using trains for all our inter-Europe travelling, so it's just the get-us-across-the-pond flights I had to worry about.
Trying to use the same method, a flight to Dublin is about $1,000, and we could fly directly to Munich that day. The trouble was with the way back, as unlike last time we were not planning on staying in Dublin for a few days. Which means we would need to be back in Dublin at least 3 hours before the return flight departed. There were no flights that arrived into Dublin that early, so we'd need to arrive a day prior and stay the night - that takes a day from my already scant vacation time and adds an extra cost. Even if this wasn't the case, I don't feel comfortable running the risk of missing my flight home to save a few bucks.
So. What's a girl to do? I had resigned myself to paying $1,700 per person, though I wasn't looking forward to telling KC that. I tried looking at other airports, but Louisville isn't close to much and they were all roughly the same price, so it wasn't worth it.
I fiddled around with a few bigger airports - NYC, Boston, Chicago. It was like $800 cheaper to fly from one of these airports. Yeah, we'd still need to get to those airports, but it was the same thing as the whole Dublin way, just in reverse.
NYC and Boston were cheaper, but they are further away which makes it logistically harder - we'd probably need to arrive the night before and get a hotel, or stay in a hotel the night we came home and that's just too difficult / annoying for me. Chicago is the closest and still affordable, the only problem is that when I was searching for Chicago - Munich and then Brussels- Chicago, the only option was an airline I didn't know. I'm sure Polish airlines is very nice, but I like to stay with airlines I've flown with before.
There were super cheap Delta flights available, but Delta and I have a 'we like to change your flights a million times without your permission' history and I don't feel like going through that again. Just to solidify my annoyance with Delta, look what happens when you select the cheap flight.
Um, that's a pretty big increase. Anyway, moving on.
So I fiddled around with the first and last destinations - I wasn't willing to budge on starting in Munich because it made the most sense and would be the hardest to get to and from if we did it in any other order. I eventually discovered that we could fly from Chicago to Munich and then home from Amsterdam to Chicago for under $1,100.
So, we could save roughly $600 by flying out of Chicago. But how do we get to Chicago? We could drive, but that doesn't sound fun, especially on the way home.
We could fly with Delta (oy) for $200 each
Or... we could use our Southwest miles to fly to Chicago.
We ended up finding a cheaper flight on the Aer Lingus website for under $930.
If we paid $930 for the main flight and then $23 for our Southwest flights, it would mean our total flights were less than $1,000 each. So we would save $700 each, for a grand total of $1,400.
Um, that's a pretty penny right there.
The way we got so many miles with Southwest is by getting their credit card. I don't recommend getting a credit card if you're not good with money (hello, me) but if you are responsible and are going to use a credit card anyway, why not get something out of it? We signed up during a bonus period, we had to spend $2,000 in 3 months to get 50,000 miles. $2,000 over 3 months was easily reached with bills, groceries etc.
Obviously, the 'inconvenience' of this might deter some travellers. But to us, the savings were absolutely worth it.
Note: I use Expedia to gauge how much everything will cost, but I rarely purchase via them. I often find going directly to the airlines website has the same price, if not a cheaper option, as you can see above. I feel like something is less likely to go wrong if I book with them directly, or they will screw me over less if they are like 'oh this sweet traveller went directly to our website rather than kayak or expedia'.
So, to recap if all these pictures and numbers made your eyes glaze over. You have 2 money saving options:
1. Fly into Dublin and visit other cities from there. You're best off ending and spending a couple days in Dublin so you don't worry about missing your flight home.
2. Fly out of a bigger airport in the US. Even if you don't have miles to use, it still might be cheaper than flying out of your city's airport if it's small like the 'ville.
I know there are tons of other ways to save - fly midweek, visit the off season etc etc but sometimes those options just don't work, and we still to deserve to save money as well.
If you are not planning a trip to Europe, I do hope you didn't read any of this, I would hate to waste your blog-reading time. But if you are, I hope I showed you a possible money saving option!
If your eyes are still glazed over, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to do the research for you, because I'm a weirdo like that.