One of the main reasons people give when asked why they don’t travel more often is money. While traveling can get expensive, there are tons of deals out there that can allow you to see the world on a budget. I use a combination of sales, travel hacking, and airline rewards to get the best bang for our buck.
On our most recent trip, Jarden and I traveled with 3 other friends for 3 weeks around Europe. We visited Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Paris, and I spent just $511 on flights, including baggage and fees! (Note that I traveled with others, but this cost is for me alone. I did pay with my husband though, so for 2 people you would just double the price.)
I also managed to do this flying out of Hawaii, which in my opinion is one of the hardest places to live if you like to travel. Being 3,758 miles from the continental US, it’s almost impossible to get a cheap flight anywhere. (Heck, I feel lucky if I manage to find a RT ticket to the US for less than $500!)
Without further adieu, here is how I traveled around Europe for $511!
Honolulu to Los Angeles: $99 on standby.
Because Hawaii is an expensive place to fly out of, if possible I try to fly to Europe from the mainland. We are very grateful to know a family member that works with an airlines, and he allows us to fly on standby from time to time. (Thanks uncle!) Because of this, I only had to pay $99 to get the Los Angeles. (Obviously not everyone is able to do this, but you can find one way tickets for $250-$300, which might still be worth flying out of the mainland vs. Hawaii).
Los Angeles To Keflavik: $99 base fare/fees + $13 seat reservation + $68 for bags = $180 total.
We managed to get such a cheap flight to Iceland with WOW Airlines. WOW is a budget airlines that frequently offers low prices to Europe (such as Paris, Berlin, etc.) from many major US cities. $99 is the one of the cheapest fares from them I’ve seen, but they seem to offer good deals year round. While the boys had some issues with WOW, I knew beforehand about extra charges that budget airlines tack on, so my experience was quite good. You can read about our full experience on WOW Airlines here.
Keflavik to Dublin: $110 base fare/fees + $8 seat reservation + $59 for bags =$177 total.
I’ve found that flights between various European countries are generally cheap since they are so close together. With that being said, Ireland and Iceland are both separate islands, so the fare for this leg was a bit higher than usual. I still thought it was a good deal though, and Ireland was my #1 bucket list destination anyways. (This was also with WOW Airlines.)
Dublin to Paris (BVA): $29 for base fare/fees + $26 for bags = $55 total.
Now these are those dirt-cheap European fares that I love! I was debating on whether I should just come home after Ireland, but I could not pass up a $29 ticket to Paris! Note this was to BVA airport, which is an hour outside of central Paris, but the shuttle bus only cost 18 euros per person. This flight was with Ryanair, another budget airlines. For the most part I was quite pleased with Ryanair, with the exception of one of their boarding requirements. You can read about our full experience with Ryanair here.
Paris (CDG) to Honolulu: Free using miles, just $90 in fuel surcharge fees.
Our flight home was definitely the icing on the cake! From Paris – Honolulu, I was looking at around $400-$700 each person, which was definitely not what I wanted to pay. Since I had a stash of miles from travel hacking, I redeemed a one-way from Paris-Honolulu for 40,000 AA miles + $90 in fees.
While this wasn’t the greatest redemption I could have used with my miles (I was trying to hold out for Peru!), I think I got a decent deal as 40,000 AA miles is valued at about $600. (I had enough miles for Jarden’s flight home too!)
The flight home was a long one, but we had the most pleasant flight experience ever flying back. From Paris-Dallas, we spent 9 hours on a 3 week old Dreamliner, and it was absolute bliss! Even though we were sitting in economy, the plane was pretty empty so we had a whole row to ourselves. We also got free movies, free food, and were easily amused by the new touch screen windows.
We had a layover in Dallas overnight, and I was able to use 20,000 Hilton Honors points for a free room 🙂 The next morning we flew Dallas to San Diego on American, and then San Diego to Honolulu on Alaska, in which we somehow got seated in premium, along with free mai tais 🙂 I think I finished 3 movies and a whole Neflix Original Series over the entire trip home; I loved it!
$511 for 4 countries visited and the trip of a lifetime!
Traveling is manageable if you play your cards right. I did hours of research looking up cheap fares, learning the best credit cards for travel, etc. I find that if you plan in advance and prioritize your spending, traveling is more of a reality that many may think.
Any good flight deals you’ve found recently?