Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Planes, trains & automobiles - Part 1 (Planes)

One of the things that has stressed me a bit as we get ready for our adventure is transportation decisions. First, I should let you know that the participants on our trip are James (my hubby), Ethan (my 12 year old), Kerry (my youngest sister), Katie (her 13 year old, sometimes called little katie), Lukas (Ethan's best friend), Megan (Michelle, my middle sister's 12 year old) and Katey (Michelle's 15 year old, sometimes call big katey). (By the way, my sisters also have sons name Ryan (big ryan and little ryan). Interestingly, Kerry had Ryan and Katie...then Michelle married Rick who had two kids (Ryan & Katey) least the girls spell their names different...although I can't tell you home many times I have to stop and remember which spelling is for which girl. Alright, that was a bit of a side-track...but important info for the coming months.

My guys (James & Ethan...that's what I call them), me, Kerry & Katie will be going to France together. The other three will join us for the month of August. So, we'll be five in July, 8 in August. (Tedious details, but after I explain my stress over'll see why it was important to get this all straight!)

First transportation stressout...FLIGHTS! The reason we can afford to go on this trip is because we don't have to pay for any housing (since we're doing a home exchange). So, theoretically, the trip should just cost us our airfare, food & spending money. In my mind, it should be a cheap trip! To keep it a cheap trip, it was important to get low priced airfare. The hunt for these low prices started in March. I had no idea how many websites are out there that will search all possible airlines for all possible flights. Sometimes, I think there is just too much choice! There were literally hundreds of options. And since I was trying to get the cheapest fare (after all, 8 people traveling to Europe adds up and I wanted to be mindful for every family involved), I started looking at tons of different permutations. One leg on this air line, the next on that. Flying different airlines there and back...good was starting to take over my life.

Then I started reading about booking Tuesday are the best day to book, as fares typically go down on that day. I also struggled with whether we should pay more for the non-stop flight. Finally, I found what I thought was the best available airfare (about $1,300 roundtrip) for a one-stop flight and I booked it for the five of us. I sent the info on to Michelle and Lukas' mom (Liza...who will be flying over with Lukas and the girls in August to spend 10 days in Paris), so they could book their flights and ensure that all the kids were on our return flight. It felt like air traffic controlling to me! Everybody had to book on the same day, so that the return flight didn't fill up. After many hours of hair-pulling, I got the thumbs up from Michelle and Liza. Everyone made it on the same return flight! Yippee. Time to move on to the next transportation issue. Stay tuned.

P.S. one note, after you finally commit to your flights and purchase the tickets...don't ever look at the options again...who wants to know that flights dropped $200 the next week, right???

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