Travel Hacks You Need to Know - Multi-City Flights & More - Part 1

europe travel tips

How we are Maximizing our Travel in 2024 with Travel Hacks

In this post we're going to share some travel hacks that we have learned while planning our upcoming trips. If you are unfamiliar with the term “travel hack,” it refers to strategies and techniques used to maximize travel while minimizing expenses. These typically involve loyalty programs, credit card rewards, sign-on bonuses, and other opportunities to earn frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and other travel-related benefits. The goal is to utilize these hacks to get discounted or free flights, accommodations, upgrades, or other travel experiences.  It’s not always easy, but the benefits can be huge.  We want to share with you some of our travel hacks to help you travel more and better.  

In addition to that, there are other things we would consider to be "travel hacks" that help you travel more and better! In this post we are also going to cover some of those.  For this particular trip, this included booking multi-city flights, booking flights within Europe on different airlines, booking apartments, flats, and homes through booking.com since we were traveling as a family with small children, and taking advantage of rail transportation.

This year (so far) we have trips to Aruba & Curacao, Europe (including London, Germany, and Crete, Greece), an African Safari in Kenya which we will bookmark with stops in Cairo, Egypt and Cape Town, South Africa.  

 

How we Planned an Epic European Exploration with 4 Adults and 2 Kids

We just got back from a trip with our daughter and her family in Europe and are trying to get readjusted to being home and catching up on laundry.  We have a jet lag procedure but coming home this time I'm really struggling.

When planning this trip we needed to find flights that would get everyone to London and then since we wanted to visit Greece, back home from Athens.  And so we booked this as a multi-city flight. 

 

Multi-City Flight Booking

Our daughter and her husband actually found this first and booked the flights during the Black Friday travel day after Thanksgiving because they were looking to use their points and miles to book their flights for this trip. So the best way for us to do this was to do a multi-city flight.

Just a disclaimer here, it was the best for us in this particular trip because we've looked at multi-city flights before that were not the best use of our points or rewards. But we don't want you to think that multi-city is going to be more dollars or points or that round trip is always going to be better. point out this.

For example, when we moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville, we thought, because we travel a lot, this is going to be so much more difficult, expensive, more miles for us to fly from Jacksonville because there's a stop but It's actually the opposite. Believe it or not, you can fly from Jacksonville places with the stop through Atlanta or New York for actually less miles than just from Atlanta alone.. Now, I'm not saying this is going to work for everything, but Scott has actually had to go change flights before and leave from Atlanta because we were going to be back up there with family and had to pay more for that ticket. So just be aware that don't always think that nonstop is going to be the cheapest or not doing a multi-city is going to be the cheapest. You can look at it lots of different ways.

We ended up booking this trip for 75,000 miles round trip in economy for that multi-city ticket on Delta Airlines. Many people who use points and miles will say that Delta typically has higher redemptions, but in our opinion that's not bad for Europe, for a round trip. And so it is Jacksonville, Florida, stop through New York on the way to London Heathrow, and then a return from which Delta is just now starting that. So, or it was about $950 round trip. So not too bad.

Booking a multi-city flight allows you to not have to return to you original destination (London in our case) before returning home.  This eliminates the cost and the hassle of another flight.  (We didn't realize it was a 12 hour flight back to Atlanta so that was a little painful but we survived).

Now you may be asking, okay, well, how are you going to get from London Heathrow to Athens, Greece?  So one of the things that we wanted to do was try to find a few different means of transportation during this trip. So we're actually going to do planes, trains, and automobiles.

 

Train Travel in Europe

We enjoyed the countryside and the stations as the train passed through France & Belgium 

We bought train tickets to go from London to Cologne, Germany with a stop to change trains in Lille, France. We booked this through Rail Europe and were able to book both tickets at the same time which made it super convenient.  We didn't have a lot of time between trains but it was enough and so we do recommend just being brave and asking at the station where the train is so that you don't waste time.  It is also

Trains can be and economical (and fun) way to travel in Europe especially if it doesn't take up too much time.  You get to see part of the countryside that you would otherwise miss. So you just really have to weigh how far it is, how long it's going to take you. In our case, we were staying one tube stop away from London St Pancreas International so weighing that as opposed to going to go back to London Heathrow to fly somewhere and weighing the time and cost benefits of each.  And then also just having the experience of doing the train. It's really fun to leave London through one of those train stations. And this particular one was through St. Pancras. So that's just a great experience if you ever get do that. And there's some beautiful sites along the way. You pass through some gorgeous countrysides.

Once we got to Germany, we had the opportunity to visit some nearly lifelong friends of our family. We took our kids when they were younger to visit with our friends in Germany. And so now we'll be taking the grandkids over there. And we're just really excited to see them and have that experience.

Our daughter pointed out that this will actually be five generations of Scott's family that will have met this exchange family. Starting with his grandparents, then his parents, and then him and his brother, and then our kids, and now our daughter's kids. I have to wonder if there's any other exchange family in the whole world that would have met five generations of the other family. 

 

Purchase Separate Flights within Europe 

We have used this "hack" before to get from London to Rome, Greece to London, Italy to Ireland, Italy to Greece separate from our international long haul flight and it is definitely one that you should be aware of. On this trip, to get from Germany to Greece, we're flew Aegean Airlines.  We found that that was the best and least expensive way to go from Frankfurt to Athens. 

I know that many people like to book their airfare to their final destination and the return but sometimes that might not be the best option or might be a terrible option.  I recently read a question in a Travel Facebook Group I am a part of from a lady complaining of expensive flights to Athens this summer.  I immediately responded and told her to look for a cheaper place to fly to in Europe and then look for flight to Athens from there.  We actually booked the flights from Frankfurt to Athens for all 6 of us plus baggage for less than 600 Euros. You can even choose a place you might want to stop and see for a couple of days to get even more bang for your travel buck. We've flown a variety of airlines throughout Europe and have found them all fine for shorter flights.  Be aware that you may have to pay for baggage or the carry on size might be smaller but if you pay ahead of time it is usually less expensive and our experience here was that they were also happy to check hand luggage for free too.  That might not always be the case but we took advantage of it. 

What was actually really cool about Aegean Airlines is once I started booking, you choose the number of adult tickets and the number of children's tickets in each age category and then you get to choose an Aegean for families price. And so basically you get heavily discounted fares for kids (like 20 Euros per ticket) and then also you get to add bags for like half off, which I thought was a really great benefit. It can difficult with kids to then try to do the carry ons and all that. The the tickets, depending on the age of the children, are something like 40 to 90% off. So now we definitely recommend checking out Aegean Air if you're flying in Europe and then from Europe to destinations in Middle Eastern countries as well because it really seemed to be some, you know, great deals. So Aegean in Europe and especially with kids is a really great option. 

 

Booking Hotels & Accomodations for Families in Europe

Another "hack" we learned about traveling with smaller kids or as a family or larger group is that we actually booked almost all of our stays using Booking.com in accomodations that were flats, apartments, our whole houses and it was actually WAY less than booking 2 (or 3) hotel rooms. If you haven't traveled in Europe before, most hotel rooms will accomodate 2 guests so having a family of 4 requires 2 rooms and that's hard with small children. 

We talk about it all the time so you know if we aren't booking a hotel with Marriott we are using Booking.com. We like to have all our reservations in one place where we can look and see everything that we have booked from the time that we get there to the time that we leave contacts of who to who to talk to, who to ask questions. 

The Penthouse View from the Apartment we rented in Chania, Crete, Greece

Then often the host of the location will ask if you need other things like recommendations or help with tours or car rentals.  In Crete, they to help us find a rental car that would accomodate all 6 of us and for way less than we found on the rental car booking sites. 

The other thing we liked about it is that if need be it would split us into two rooms at the same location if that's what was available.  We had an overnight stay in Germany and then again near the Athens airport that we have to do and it was still super convenient.

We have never not stayed at a hotel in London. But finding a little apartment ended up being way cheaper and it was super convenient to the Russell Square Station and to Covent Garden and I think after this experience I will look for a flat in London from now on rather than a hotel room.

I hope that this post will help you when Booking Flights to and Within Europe, Thinking about and Booking Train Travel In Europe, and Finding Accomodations for your Family or Travel Party in Europe.  

Share you Travel Tips with us Below...and stay tuned for Part 2 where I'll share how we booked our travels to Africa later this year and More!

 

  


 

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About Us...

 

Hi! We're Scott and Melissa

The Sunshine Travelers

 

We are a couple of travel obsessed explorers sharing our travel experiences and stories to inspire you to travel more and better. We are so happy to have you here.

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