16 March 2012
Planning a Trip to Europe, First Things First
And due to location my mind often drifts lately, my successive posts may be heavily travel-plans related. Bear with me, if it gets tiresome or self-focused!
So. How to plan a trip to Europe for a young family of five? Uhhh .. well probably not how we are. We are definitely learning as we go. But here is how we started.
First, start with the tickets. Our research showed booking 6-4 months in advance was advisable. We chose six, as booking 5 tickets is more tricky than two. Next, you've got to select a general date range, but be willing to fudge if you can. We originally planned to go in June, but between summer prices and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, we saved over $2500 on airfare alone by going in May. We also knew the general region we wanted to travel in, but looked for the best deals to determine our entry and exit point/country.
**As a side note, do some research on the area. Some countries may have some current instability that could raise questions for you when traveling with children.
We found an online site that had good prices on decent airlines (we decided that off-airlines with horrible reviews may not be worth the savings while traveling with small children) and then ... and here's the kicker ... call them on the phone. Do this late at night (11:00pm Pacific time worked for us) when the call load is lower. Call several times, if you have to, 'til you find an "agent" that seems friendly and helpful and get his direct line and give him your number, as well. He will be able to find deals, caveats, and potential issues that you will not find online.
Take his suggestions and do some more research on you own, since you will now have a reliable baseline to go from. Once you've found your deal (I found an even better deal than our agent and got a "wow" from him) book it over the phone. Again, deals are to be had and fees to be waived when dealing with a real person. Ask for a 24 hour risk-free cancellation window.
So now you have your tickets! Whew! That was stressful and exhausting! But it means that for sure you are going! Hee, Hee. Now it's time to start clapping your hands wildly and prancing about the room.
**Any tips of your own? I'd love to hear.