As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I took our children to Italy last summer for a summer vacation. I have decided to document the frugal steps I took to make that vacation affordable, while being fun. I can't think of a better place to start with this blog, than the beginning, which is airfare.
We knew that we were going to take that vacation for about 18 months before we left. It is not possible to buy tickets that far in advance. Knowing that, I had several months to save the cash that we would need for airfare. You can buy tickets about a year before departure, so we knew that we had 6 months to accumulate what we would need in savings. When we hit the year mark before departure, my husband started to stalk the fares. He also did a lot of research about what time of year is cheapest, how far before departure, what cities have cheaper departures, would it be cheaper to fly into one city versus another. The list went on and on. He knew that it was cheaper to take the train from Florence to Venice and fly out of Venice than it would be to fly directly out of Florence. This knowledge helped us make informed choices about our flights. We finally decided to fly out of Chicago (MUCH cheaper than flying out of Milwaukee) into Zurich Switzerland with a connection into Rome Italy. Our flight home was a bit different. We flew out of Venice, into Zurich, back to Chicago. We saved a lot of money taking this route, plus, we were able to see the Italian countryside by taking the train to Venice.
We decided to fly Swiss Air. It was OK. To be honest, I am being very generous with that OK rating. The food was inedible, the seats were the worst international seats I have ever sat it and there was a mix up with our passports in Switzerland with the airline. I think I would need to use that airline again to get a better idea of the service. Of course we chose Swiss Air because it provided the most affordable fares.
When we bought our tickets we used a credit card that gives a rebate and than paid it off right away. The rebate was applied to that credit card while we were on vacation. We had accumulated $120 cash from the tickets which we turned around and used in Italy. We were able to buy a very nice dinner in Florence, in fact my parents were able to stay with the kids the night we had that dinner. It was a memorable date for us in Italy.