Before my recent disappearance from the blog (sorry about that…), I wrote a post sharing some pretty amazing news that Connor and I decided to go on a trip to Italy and Spain! We have since been on our adventure, and had an amazing time! I will tell you all about it in many many posts, so stay tuned!
Before the trip, I honestly had the best time planning, and I really want to share all of that with you! I want you all to join us on reminiscing our exciting adventure, but also learn some tips and advice along the way. Who knows, maybe it will help you plan your next adventure 🙂
Before I get into this post too far, I want to talk about something that I think is important, just really quickly. If you read my last post closely, you will notice that I did not give specific dates or details about the itinerary of our trip before we left. It’s true, I did that for a reason. Honestly, I think this is common sense, but also something that I actually was taught at a young age: you should not post things, anywhere on the internet, that detail when you are leaving your house empty for extended periods of time. I mean, its just obvious security, right? Right. The beautiful pictures and videos can wait to be shared upon your return. I just want to put that out there as some advice to my readers.
Alright, enough with the serious stuff… let’s talk flights! I think the hardest part about planning any trip is figuring how in the world you’re going to be getting where you’re. Do you drive, fly, take a train, take a boat, take a taxi, walk?
Obviously, Connor and I flew to Europe. Because Connor is in the Army, we played around with the idea of flying Space A (which would have meant we could have flown on a military plane to a military base somewhere in Europe – as long as there was room for us on said plane – hence “space available”). The reason that military families do this is because flying Space A is practically free. We would have taken advantage of this in a heartbeat, but unfortunately, we encountered a few issues with flying Space A.
You have to fly out of a military base, and you can usually only fly from one specific military base in the US, to another specific military base abroad. You don’t have a lot of options regarding location. That meant that we could only fly to either Germany or Italy from the base nearest to us. At this time in the process, we actually weren’t sure where we wanted to go, so we were ok with that. It could have been done, but…
Flights only leave on certain days of the week. It turns out that military flights aren’t on a daily schedule like normal airports. We had very few options of what day we could have flown out (and flown home for that matter), and that wasn’t going to work with our tight schedule.
Lastly, there is no guarantee that we could have gotten on the flights that we wanted. On Space A flights, soldiers who are actually going abroad for their job fill up most of the plane, and then soldiers and their families traveling for leisure get second priority. If our desired flight was full, then we would have to wait for the next flight (which could have been days later). Again, we didn’t have the flexibility for that.
In conclusion, flying Space A is great if you have a bunch of free time, but it just didn’t work out for this particular trip.
Time for plan B…
I mentioned before that we weren’t really sure where in Europe we wanted to travel (when you want to go everywhere, how do you choose??). So, I thought, why not ask Google where the cheapest airports in Europe are and base our decision off of that? Best decision I made! Prices actually vary by huge amounts from airport to airport, so if you can be flexible in regards to where you fly, you can save a ton!
I verified the research using a few different websites, but the general consensus is that some of the cheapest airports to fly into are:
Jackpot! That is a pretty decent list of some amazing places to travel! So, I took this a step further, and looked up the cheapest airports to fly out of in the United States. It turns out that New York is actually one of the cheapest to fly out of (maybe that only applies to international trips, I’m not sure) because there is so much competition between flights. New York is only a few hours from us, and half the price of flying out of the greater D.C. area.
My next step was to go to Expedia. I looked up flights out of New York to all of the above mentioned international cities, and noted which were the cheapest. By the end of the process, I found that Milan had some of the cheapest flights during our time frame, and Italy was our most desired location. I booked it!
It took me a few days to figure out all of this, and it was frustrating at times. But in the end, we were able to buy both plane tickets to Italy for $1000. That was almost half of our intended budget, so it definitely paid off.
*disclaimer: I cannot guarantee this price for everyone. It depends not only on when you buy the tickets, but also when you are traveling. If you are traveling in the off-season, you will probably save more money like we did.
There is one more piece to our air-transportation aspect of the trip, and that is how we are getting from Italy to Spain. Remember how Milan and Barcelona were two of the cheapest airports to fly in and out of? That means that flying from Milan to Barcelona is also very reasonably priced. We looked into taking the train or taking a one-night cruise across the Mediterranean, but in the end, flying was affordable and fast! Why spend hours upon hours on a train or boat when you can fly (for the same price) in just over one hour? Exactly! So I would recommend doing some research in that aspect as well.
Alright, I think I’m going to leave off here. I hope this was helpful if you’re thinking about planning a trip! In my next Travel blog, I’m going to start telling you all of our stories from our first (and one of our favorite) destinations. You’ll have to check back to find out where.
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