For the first time ever, I stepped foot in a new continent I have never been before. It is about time to cross Europe off my checklist. I recently completed a 2-week long trip to 5 cities in 3 different countries. I’ve been putting Europe on the back burner for a while now because of how expensive it can be, especially with our low Canadian dollar. But I am up for the challenge. For those that know me, you guys know my abilities to travel on the cheap. So here are a few pointers to get your trip started and go to the place you’ve always dreamed of.
This should be common knowledge by now, you can get free airplane tickets by collecting frequent flyer miles! But how can you be a frequent flyer if you can even barely afford groceries?! Sign up for credit cards that offer frequent flyer miles, that’s how! Many credit cards offer you a welcome bonus from 25,000 – 60,000 points! That’s enough for a roundtrip flight from Toronto to Paris!
My favourite is hands down the American Express Gold Card. 25,000 welcome points, 2 points with select purchases like groceries, gas and flights, and 1 point with every other purchase. There are no annual fees for your first year, but it will be $150 the year after, which is still a good deal considering you are going to be collecting a lot of points through out the years to sustain your travelling if you use the card frequently.
But here’s the REAL tip. Once you have enough points and want to redeem it for a plane ticket, you must do a little bit of research and snooping around for the best bang for your buck. For example, I mainly use Aeroplan, the frequent flyer membership for Air Canada. If you were to book a flight to Paris flying Air Canada, you would need 60,000 points AND pay $350 in taxes! That is NO deal at all considering there are many flight deal sites like Secret Flying and YYZdeals (please subscribe to their e-mail list to always stay up to date, you never know when it’ll come handy)
However, Air Canada is part of a greater alliance with different airlines. Some pay less taxes, and maybe require less points. Aeroplan also has sales during the year, where you can redeem a flight with less points than usual!
Here’s ANOTHER tip, look for one way as well as roundtrip when you are researching, as different options show up for one way compared to roundtrip flights!
I was able to fly to Paris for just $300 with 30,000 points. Now I’ve seen sale periods for Paris where redemptions were as low as 27,000! So this IS possible!
Here was the breakdown for my flight:
Flight from Toronto to Paris flying Brussels Airlines. $46 in taxes. I could have been extra cheap and fly back with Brussels Airlines and pay $46 again but I wanted to treat myself and fly direct when I am coming back from an exhausting trip, hence why I paid $254 on my return. But even then, my connecting flight to Brussels was not bad at ALL.