Simple Travel Tips

The good doctor and I LOVE to travel. The more remote the location, the better. But, with that kind of travel the expense and logistics can be quite a challenge! We have some simple but very effective tips you can use to save time and money.

When we were planning our multi-generational trip Europe I learned a few great tips from my Travel Guru ie the “SO”. Our goal was to use airline miles for 3 of the people. We had enough miles between us to get saver seats in Business. Right, I know what you’re thinking – spoil them early! The trick was to find 3 to the same place or nearly the same spot and then purchase tickets for the 2 of us on the same flights. Kinda gives me a headache just thinking about it, right?!

The vast majority of our flying takes place on United so we had the luxury of looking for flights on any of the Star Alliance carriers. This immediately increased or search from 1 to 8 different airlines. We first looked to fly from Denver to any place in Europe. We started our search early – 360 days out. As we had expected, there were no Saver awards from Denver. The difference in miles between Saver and Standard awards ranged from 57,000 miles to 150,000 one way!

Tip # 1 Start your search early. Most airlines open flights about a year in advance
Tip # 2 Search within an Alliance not individual airlines.
Tip # 3 Maximize your miles. Look for Saver awards and if possible use them for Business and First Class seats.

We next expanded our search to other departure cities. Within a few minutes we found 3 Business Saver seats from LA to Milan with a stop in Vienna via Austrian Airlines. Seats were also available on LOT Polish Airlines. We immediately secured them for 70,000 miles and about $49 in taxes. Because we both have high elite status with United we knew that we could change these flights if better options became available.
Tip # 4 Be flexible with both your times and your departure and destination cities.
Tip # 5 If seats are available take them immediately. Even without status you have a minimum of 24 hours to change them. There is a good chance that the seats will not be there a few hours later!
Tip # 6 Search for one way at a time. Once you have your outbound flights you can begin searching for your homeward flights. There is usually no savings in miles if you purchase one way versus round trip.

Our initial plan was to stay in Europe for 3-4 weeks so 3 weeks later we began searching for our homeward flights. We knew that we would be moving around by train and plane and departing from Paris. Again we started looking for flights from Paris to Denver – nothing was available within 10 days of our dates. We did find flights with Saver seats from Paris to Chicago through Frankfurt. A quick check showed 3 Saver economy seats from Chicago to Denver. With a little help from United we now had 3 tickets home with all in Business except for the Chicago – Denver portion which was in Economy and waitlisted for Business. Because our Trans-Atlantic portion was on United, these flights were 57,500 miles plus about $26 in taxes per seat.

Tip # 7 Do not be afraid to book flights with European layovers or plane changes. You usually have up to 23 hours on a layover without it counting as a stop and thus costing more miles.
Tip # 8 Remember to log in to your account when doing your search. The more status you have, the more flight availability will be shown. With United if you have a United Chase Visa, additional flights will be shown.
Tip # 9 Be aware that some airlines will charge fuel surcharges on award flights. Also the taxes that you pay in Europe can vary greatly depending on the initial departure city – London has very high taxes.

We still wanted to depart from Denver so we decided to do regular searches for Denver departures. The “SO” actually enjoys looking for flights – a bit of an airline geek – so he started looking every few days. Lo and behold about 4-5 weeks later he found 3 seats from Denver to Milan through Munich on Lufthansa. A quick call changed our flights and saved a few dollars on the taxes.

Tip # 10 Keep searching for better flights. Sometimes, flights may open only a few weeks prior to departure. Be aware that if you do not have elite status you may be charged change and / or close in booking fees.

Hope this helps you book the trip of your dreams! We really did get some good values doing the flights this way……although, I am aware it helps to have someone who LOVES to troll the internet looking for “stuff”. The Travel Guru has a wealth of information that he is willing to share.

What is on your “bucket list”? What is your favorite destination? How many times have you traveled to your favorite?

We gave each of the grandkids a journal so they could write about their daily travels. Great tradition to start! Get similar here.


xoxo, Rosanna
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