*Grabs you by the hand* we are about to embark on an incredible journey that includes a trip to two countries (kinda three). If you are down for the ride this will be a series of posts which I have labeled “The Paris Series.” These posts will not include all foodie stuff like I normally do, but what you will get are details and tips from an amazing trip!
Shall I begin with how this started? Of course you want the origin story! Here it goes… I have been itching to travel across the seas since my early twenties. It’s just that my wallet and work life haven’t always agreed. With my budget in mind, I remained an avid follower of airline deal sites like Airfare Watchdog which share blockbuster flight deals via email and twitter. We are talking “go around the world for $200” kind of deals folks!
On this particular summer day, I sat in my office keeping up on current events on twitter per usual when I saw a deal from Houston to Paris for $350. *insert big eye emoji and clicks link* After consulting with my sister, we learned that not only was this deal FOR REAL, but it was available over the Thanksgiving holiday. This meant we would save coins and vacation time! My hands literally trembled as I hit the submit payment button. I then stalked my email account until I received sufficient confirmation from the airline. Eventually my mom and aunt joined in on the fun despite their initial reluctance. I still cannot believe we booked a trip of a lifetime for 350!!!
Getting the Deal
I imagine you want to know the who, what, where, when and HOW about this flight deal. So before I jump into the details of my trip, here are some tips for scoring your very own flight deal!
- These deals are not rare! Someone is thinking “oh she just got lucky.” While luck may have played a part, I do not want anyone to think they are not capable of finding these types of deals. This is my first overseas deal, I have plenty of friends who have used similar deals to go to some pretty cool, need a passport type of places.
- Be flexible. You must be flexible with your dates and locations. My ideal Europe spot is Rome, but Rome didn’t have any deals SO I had to “settle” for Paris. We also played around with the dates until we could find a time that worked for us. Imagine our shock when Thanksgiving week showed up. It honestly did not matter. We were at the mercy of the deal. When it said go that was when we intended to go!
- On what airline?! You will likely be on an airline you have not heard of. In this instance we flew AeroMexico, which was REALLY nice (more on that later). A couple of my friends flew this airline to Paris using a blockbuster deal some years before. I trusted their guidance and booked based on their review. If you are feeling unsure, check the airline reviews before booking. NOTHING would be worse than flying a Spirit level airline overseas. Also, please note that these airlines do partner with American based airlines for frequent flier programs! So you may be able to take your miles and use them through a stateside airline. For example, AeroMexico miles link with Delta.
- Why are airlines giving these deals? From my research there are a couple of reasons.
- The airline’s system literally just is not working. A couple of years ago a major US airline’s system only charged the security fee, so five bucks for a roundtrip flight. Folks booked family reunions to Hawaii on this deal!
- I have also seen airlines that are entering a new market offer crazy deals to gain a customer base. Norwegian Airlines and Turkish Airlines are two examples that popped up in the Houston market and offered deals to Europe.
- The other common reason, it is off season. A couple of my friends lucked up on a deal to Trinidad during the rainy season. The price made it worth the risk and for the most part they still had decent weather! For us, peak season in Paris is of course the summer, but winter in Paris honestly was not bad!
- Third party sites have the deals! You may book these deals through a third party site like kayak.com or one you have never heard of. In our case, the deal was through eDreams a European based travel company. It seems that AeroMexico caught on to the error and fixed it on their own website. Ohhhh but the third party websites still showed the deal! We booked knowing there was a chance that AeroMexico would not honor it. We would still get our money back from the third party site so no concerns there. When I finally received my AeroMexico confirmation email I danced in my office for five minutes.
- How do you find the deals? Sign up for fare alerts from websites like Airfare Watchdog and the Flight Deal. If you are a twitter person, also follow them on twitter, where they are constantly tweeting out deals! Sites like Airfare Watchdog have full time staff constantly searching for great deals, so they do not miss much. These are also domestic deals too.
- Get it while it’s hot! These deals will be gone! Do not sit around and debate. Have your coins on reserve and ready to go in a seconds. When I called my aunt about this crazy deal, her first question was “but where are we going to stay?” The trip was over five months away at that point leaving us plenty of time to iron out the details. You do not need to book a hotel or an Airbnb before booking your flight. Book the flight and the rest will fall into place.
- We have to fly where first?! These deals are not always direct flights. If you use a non-American airline, you will probably be routed to their home base first before heading to your destination. In our case, we had to go to Mexico City before Paris. If you glance at the map, some may say this is hustling backwards. I say it is a small price to pay for a deal! It’s all about the deal people!! In the end, I walked away with another stamp on my passport from a quick trip to Mexico :).
- Travel to the deal within reason! For example, I will gladly hit I-45 north to Dallas if a deal required me. On this trip, my aunt flew to Houston to travel with us. Even with that additional flight, the trip was still SUPER cheap. Of course with that comes some cost benefit analysis, but if you open the door to flying out of other cities you will find more deals. The east coast for example gets a lot more of the Europe deals. So if you can travel there for the low, then I would still call that a win! On this same note, if London for example is your dream vacation, but the only deal you see is to Paris. Take the deal and coordinate a train from Paris. Again, make sure cost wise this worth it for you.
I will be brief here because quite frankly I did not do much planning for this trip. It must be the post-30 life, but I am over planning out every single detail for a trip, so I did not. We did book a hotel through Hotels.com and honestly got a pretty good deal on that as well. Next up, I booked a day trip to London on the Eurostar for about $90 roundtrip. Again, we felt like that was a win! Then finally we booked a couple of those hop on hop off tours so we can get the highlights of the cities and decide where to go from there. I booked both of these tours through Viator which I found to be a very user friendly website that constantly emails out specials. We booked these in advance so it would be less cash and overseas credit card swiping required.
That’s all I have for now. Feel free to comment below with questions or other tips that you have. Make sure you subscribe so you do not miss the rest of the posts from this series!
Check out my other posts about Paris: