Author Topic: Good tool or website to use to save money on a trip to Europe in this summer  (Read 3534 times)

Redfive20

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First, I am a new member and I am very excited to find this community. This is my first post asking how to save money to plan a trip to Europe this summer with the family of 6 (4 adults and 2 kids). Our time is relatively flexible during the summer break. I would need to get a permission from work and hope to be able to get 2 weeks.
 
We are in CT, between NY and Boston. So, we are open to drive to JFK or Logan to save money on the airline tickets. Most of us have never been to Europe. At least, we would like to visit London and Paris. Therefore, we are also open at which city we fly to.  I am looking for some good tools or websites we can use to search the cheapest airline tickets based on open date and to different potential European cities.

As to lodging, since we have a large group with my parents and kids, a cheaper way I know is to find a short term vacation rental from VRBO. For example, hopefully we can find a place around London for 3 nights. Do you know any other good websites to find a cheaper lodging option? For the experience, We may also want to try to stay at a castle for a night.

Please share if you have any other ideas or tips on how to save money while keep the trip fun. Thanks!



KS

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VRBO has served us well in the past, we've also used flipkey and AirBnB (the latter has a lot of single rooms for rent in someone's place, but does have listings for a whole home or apartment as well). With that large a group, renting a place could make a huge difference! Usually works best if you're staying put for at least a few nights in each place, as a lot of them have a minimum stay requirement.

We like Kayak for plane ticket shopping, although once you've narrowed down what location and dates will likely be cheapest, it's still worth double checking other sites, including the airlines' actual websites to make sure you get the best deal. They even have a nice search tool if you want to do a multi-city flight (for example fly into London but out of Paris so you don't have to spend time trekking back to your origin airport.) I think FareCompare used to have a map feature I liked that would show you prices to different cities so you could get an idea where it's cheaper to go, but I don't know if they still do.

If you haven't fully decided where to go yet and have time for more places than London and Paris, I think Ireland has been having some great deals in the last couple years (some of them for castle stays). They always seem to pop up in the "travel deals of the week" emails I get anyway. That was our first trip abroad as a couple, back in 2006 (also on a great deal we got at the time) and it was a fantastic place to visit for friendly people, cool old castles, and beautiful countryside. 

Have fun! You're making me want to go plan a trip now. :)


Redfive20

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Thank you! This is great. We will check them out.

tracipam

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Try finding a convent to stay in for the several days option.  It's one of the ways Europeans travel on the cheap.  We discovered this by accident.  Be prepared to e-mail in the language of the country (babelfish/googletranslate is your friend).  It's definitely an experience. :-) 

daverobev

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Probably cheaper to fly *home* from Paris; there are extra taxes when flying from the UK now.

Not sure how cheap you're trying to do, but check out Youth Hostels - you can book a whole room and that might sleep 6.

2 weeks is not a long time to do 'Europe'. You might want to, say, just do the UK, or just do France, or whatever. I know the distances are shorter, but there is just so much more stuff packed in (ie, London to Birmingham is what, 2 hours? Birmingham being the UK's second city...).

You can get special rail passes *in advance* that will allow you to cover a lot of distance. If you're going to rent a car, bear in mind everything will be manual transmission.

There are many many cheap airlines operating all over - EasyJet are (IMNSHO) much better than RyanAir, but either way they are *cheap* - if you work around when their cheap flights are.

Ireland is awesome - 2 weeks you could do a nice loop from London, through Wales, over to Ireland on the ferry, up to Northern Ireland, over to Scotland, and back down to London. Even then you'd be travelling quite a bit.

Redfive20

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Thank you, KS, tracipam and daverobev! I have to say that I am happily surprised by how many people shared such great information.  I am new to this group, but I think it is great! I agree that our trip will be short. Since most of us have never been Europe, it is better for us to focus on a limited few places so that we don't spend most time simply traveling between places. Hopefully we can plan more trips in the future to explore further.

read books

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Trip Advisor and Home Away are useful for accommodations.

Although you didn't exactly ask for this, but I can't resist getting some European travel info.

My number one recommendation: don't bring much stuff with you. In the places you're considering, you can get pretty much anything. Extra stuff will make every chance of location that much more complicated.

I prefer minimizing travel from place to place and exploring a few areas in more depth. It is more efficient in terms of time and money to rent a place for a few days or a week. Consider a place with a kitchen. That will save a ton of money, even if all you do there is make your own coffee and toast (or cereal--and juice).  In your situation, I would pick two locations and stay in each for a week. I have done this in France, England, and Ireland.

We tend to stay in out of the way places for a week + and slip in a couple of days in big, expensive, and exhausting cities. But we are not trying to "do" Paris or Dublin. It might be tough to do this as it's a first Europe trip.

In general, public transportation is practical  unless you take a lot of stuff with you. In France, you won't have to deal with driving on the "wrong side" of the road. Food is cheaper in France. In general, France is cheaper than the UK.

 Depending on where you are, the roads can be an adventure. Check gas and toll rates for proposed driving trips.

Have a great trip!

pipercat

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We went to Europe via Untours several years ago, and we LOVED IT!  Just check out their site at untours.com.

Also, Nomadic Matt at nomadicmatt.com has lots of really helpful money-saving tips for travel anywhere in the world.

daverobev

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In general, France is cheaper than the UK.

Not sure about that.. I'd say it depends on the exchange rate at any given time. Some stuff will be cheaper either way.

I'd say Ireland tends to be more expensive than the UK, anway.

Hmm.. eating out is probably cheaper in France... well.. no, it depends. You can get a 3-course meal in France for not much, but that is their way of life. It'll come with wine but coffee'll be an extra Euro (in my experience). In the UK there are many fast food options which will be cheaper than that, but a nice restaurant will likely be more... Not easy to equate the two.

Sweet Betsy

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Try Icelandair for flights.  When I was looking prices were very reasonable and you can also book a several day layover in Iceland for no extra cost. 

We ended up using airline miles to get our tickets...we saved $3000+.  I am using Homeaway to rent apartments for a week at a time and booking hotels for a few days in the pricey cities. 

Airfarewatchdog.com is a great way to watch for cheap flights.

Albert

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Matrix (http://matrix.itasoftware.com) is definitely a way to go for searching cheap tickets, particularly long haul (low cost Ryanair and Easyjet not included). You can't buy anything directly from them, but you use the site for finding price, route and airline. After that go to one of the aggregators or directly to airline websites. Usually, but not always, it is cheaper to start and finish in the same city.

As for the trip itself my main advice is don't try to squeeze in too much. Two weeks is sufficient to see London, Paris and their immediate surroundings but not much more than that. If you concentrate on these two big cities then public transport is the way to go, if you want to see countryside and smaller towns or travel further from big cities too I suggest renting a car. It will save you time and for a big group like yours quite a bit of money too.