For the last four years, I’ve spent at least 4-6 weeks in Europe with my family. We usually go for two weeks over spring break or fall break and we almost always take a three-week European vacation with our kids during summer. Sometimes my husband and I even spend another week in Europe on our own, like last year when we spent a week in Croatia.
This summer we have two European trips lined up — a two-week trip to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and a two-week trip to England and Scotland. I love all the history and the culture in various European countries — plus the fact different worlds are huddled to close together. Southern Italy is totally different than Switzerland, after all, yet they’re only a few short hours away.
The thing is, I never fly into and out of the same city when we visit. I probably never will, either. For many reasons, I prefer to book an open jaw flight for our trips — which means we fly into one airport and home from another.
We don’t have to backtrack.
For our April trip to Italy, we’re doing the basic tour of the country with my best friend and her husband for my BFF’s 40th birthday. This means we’re flying into Rome for three days, spending a day on the Amalfi Coast, spending time in Florence, visiting Tuscany, then flying home from Venice.
I like open jaw flights because we don’t have to backtrack back to our original destination to fly home. Instead, we can move across the country as we go and utilize all our travel time to the fullest.
I can use two different frequent flyer programs.
While this isn’t always the case, I usually use two different frequent flyer programs to book open jaw flights to Europe. This is sometimes because I have my miles across several different programs. Other times, I find better award availability on different legs of our trips with different airlines.
For our flights to Italy, I cashed in 57,500 American AAdvantage miles each to fly Business class into Rome then 25,000 Air France/Flying Blue miles to fly economy home to Indianapolis from Venice.
When you book an open jaw, you have a lot more flexibility and more ways to save. For example, I rarely care where we fly into or out of for our trips to Europe provided it’s close to where we want to be. It’s easy to hop a quick train to your destination in most countries we travel to frequently, so it’s no big deal to fly into Milan instead of Venice or Frankfurt instead of Dusseldorf.
Obviously having this type of flexibility with an open jaw makes it easier to find award availability on the dates you want. If you don’t find what you want with one destination or one frequent flyer program, just keep looking until you find a combination of flights and award availability that works.
The bottom line: Be as flexible as you can with your flights and where you travel, and your miles will go a lot further over time.
Do you ever book open jaw itineraries? Why or why not?
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