One October evening, I began planning this trip…sort of accidentally. Seriously, I am the most persuadable person on the planet and can be sold by a simple suggestion.
So, it goes like this: An advertisement popped up on Facebook or in my email or while I was searching for something online, who knows…anyway, it was advertising Eurail passes at a discounted price (www.eurail.com). I clicked on it (go ahead, click on it!), with a little bit of interest, but no real intention of buying anything…that’s how I got my first dog too, I was “just going to look”. A few clicks later and I found, as it turns out, with the purchase of an adult Eurail pass, kids age 11 and under ride for free!! I had no idea! But with my 6 and 9 (10 that following summer) year old in mind, I said to the Mister, “hey, did you know this?” (He did not know this). Our interest was peaked, and we started thinking that if we wanted to be able to afford a trip to Europe anytime soon, free Eurail passes were better than not free Eurail passes. Both of us being teachers, we have a long break in the summer months, and decided that if we could find fair priced plane tickets, it could be worth it to make this travel dream a reality. But 2 Eurail passes aren’t cheap either, so the plane tickets would have to be a steal (again, teachers not zillionaires).
We had no real destination beyond “Europe” or the passes yet, and with all that freedom we had no idea where to start. So we started with deciding where to begin our journey. We did this by looking up flights from Detroit to a variety of big cities in Europe…you know…prime (read $$$$) destinations. This got us some ticket prices…very expensive ticket prices. We thought, it must be cheaper to fly from somewhere to somewhere if we looked at different airports, but London, Paris, Rome…they were all A LOT of money. Then we thought “Hey, the internet has a ton of information…I wonder where it is cheapest to fly to in Europe?” And guess what, we found a list of less expensive places to fly into.
Now, being the outside of the box thinkers that we are, we thought “what other airports are close to us?” We live in mid-Michigan and typically fly out of Detroit, but Chicago is also fairly close. It turns out that it’s almost always cheaper to fly from Chicago than Detroit! SO we started looking at flights from Chicago.
Then we thought “if only there was a way to find out the cheapest days to travel between June 10 and August 20.” You know what? There is. We went on another website www.ricksteves.com and found out “there’s an app for that” called Hopper. Hopper, in fact, will tell you when flights are at their best price or to wait because prices will go down. They even color code it with green, yellow, orange and red for prices lowest to highest by departure date. It’s pretty awesome. AND…you can set it up to send push notifications so you don’t have to check it every hour to see if the prices went down. To whomever came up with this app…it’s pretty amazing, thanks!
So with a few of these new tools at our fingertips we went to work finding an inexpensive airport. It turns out that Dublin, Ireland is spectacularly less expensive than most airports in Europe…and a shorter flight. I know what you are thinking, Eurail passes will do you little good on an island nation. But I am here to tell you, that island nation of Ireland is totally worth visiting, and Eurail passes are good there too. We did have to find our way to Great Britain that did not rely solely on rail travel, but that is another part of this adventure. Using the Hopper app we found a very reasonable rate per ticket (it was even a direct flight) for less than our spring break travel to Florida would cost us. So we bought them…that night…without a plan!
Sometimes you just have to buy the ticket. The rest will work itself out.