Jane Young: Tips for Saving on European Travel | Business
It’s a great time to start planning a trip to Europe. You’ll encounter fewer people than before the pandemic and most countries have relaxed COVID restrictions and requirements, making it easier to visit your favorite sites.
One of the biggest expenses associated with traveling abroad is airfare; this is especially true with recent increases in airfares. Using miles to buy your plane ticket is a way to save money on this expense.
Consider signing up for one or two airline loyalty programs and credit cards that offer a sign-up bonus. For example, the American Airlines Aviator Master card issued by Barclays currently provides 50,000 bonus miles and the United Airlines MileagePlus Visa card issued by Chase provides 60,000 bonus miles, if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
If you plan ahead, you can usually buy a round-trip economy class ticket or a one-way business class ticket to Europe for 60,000 miles. You will continue to earn miles by using your airline card for everyday expenses. Just make sure to pay the full balance at the end of the month.
The key to saving on travel is to be flexible with your dates and locations. You can save by traveling during the shoulder season, between mid-April and early June and between late August and early October. Flights to Europe are even cheaper as you move into later fall and winter. It doesn’t really matter what day of the week you book your flight, but the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. It is best to book your international flight around three to four months in advance.
However, due to limited availability, tickets purchased with miles must be secured sooner. Major airlines like American and United start selling tickets about 330 days before a flight. To buy a business class ticket for a reasonable number of miles and a decent route, you need to buy them as soon as they become available.
You can also save money or increase your chances of buying a good ticket with miles if your travel dates are flexible and you are flexible with your departure and arrival airports. It is usually cheaper to fly to Europe from a major international airport. Rather than booking a flight from a small regional airport, it may be cheaper to book a separate ticket on a commuter flight or fly to the nearest international airport and fly to Europe from of the.
Also, look for the cheapest arrival city in Europe. It is easy and inexpensive to travel between cities in Europe by train or on low-cost airlines; Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air are some low cost options. For example, if you are going to Rome, it may be cheaper to book an international flight to London and take a separate flight on a discount carrier from London to Rome rather than flying directly to Rome.
Jane Young is a certified fee-paying financial planner. She can be contacted at [email protected]