Using miles

For the first time ever I have nearly enough miles to get me to Europe and back! While I would love to celebrate this fact, it seems like it can be more of a hassle than anything else. I only have enough miles for "off season" travel, on specific days of the week, barring any black out dates, etc., etc. what I am finding is that it's nearly impossible to find dates that will work, and most of the itineraries are fairly obnoxious. However, after much research I have found these potential travel dates that will work for me: Fly into Dublin April 16 (only feasible option) Fly home from Milan May 6, London April 29 or May 5, or Madrid May 1 or 6-8. My previous travel in Europe has been a bit of England, Paris, and Italy. Given the time frame involved and prior travel, if you had these choices would you opt for: Ireland, Scotland, and England. Ireland, France, and Spain. Ireland, France, and a bit of northern Italy.
Oh, and this is likely to be a solo trip. And yes I understand that with approx. 3 weeks all of these itineraries are likely to be a little rushed.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I vote for Ireland and Spain. You don't have to be rushed if you don't try to do too much. Ireland, because that's where you land. Maybe spend a few days in Dublin. Spain, because the season there should be nice and you would have time to visit a few places there. Fly to Barcelona and spend a week, then move on to Madrid and Toledo. To help decide, check flights from Dublin to France or Spain. There is good train transportation in Spain.

Posted by Betsey
New England
269 posts

Hi Angela, If I had your options then I would opt for Ireland, Scotland, and England .. but three weeks there is my dream, will it meet yours? We may pass one another. Unless fate gets in the way, I'm traveling through DUB on April 18 and returning home from there on April 27. I've made 3 trips through Edinburgh during the 3rd week of April and (fingers really crossed!) the weather has been great every time. Cheers.

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, Usa
237 posts

Thanks for the replies! Good idea about taking a cheap flight across the channel... I had thought about taking a ferry. 10 years ago I took the Chunnel train, and it was super spendy. I don't have time or money to waste. Anyway, a couple quick searches on kayak and I found it is super cheap to fly to Paris, and not a whole lot more to go as far as Venice or Rome. Im kinda leaning towards a week in Ireland and two weeks in Italy to hit the places I missed last time. But I've never been to Spain, and only had the 4 days in Paris. Well, I need to earn a few more miles before I can book this trip, so I have a month or two to fine tune my plans.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Weather can always change, but I spent the last week of April in Ireland a few years ago and had pretty nice weather. Since you are on a budget I would choose the destinations based on how much bang you can get for your buck. That said, I think Paris in the spring would be wonderful...

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
912 posts

You can find budget flights in Europe on www.skyscanner.com which don't show up on the airline search sites you may use in the US. For instance you could fly from Dublin direct to Madrid for about a hundred US dollars if you book far enough in advance. For shorter trips, the best advice about trains comes from www.seat61.com

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

Given the time of year I would opt for Ireland, Spain & France, or just Ireland and Spain. It should be a great time to visit Spain, as any later in the year the south can start to get really hot. Ireland weather can be nice or not, so I would try for a second location where the weather will probably be warm. Since you have already been to Paris I would do something new. Also, just so you are aware that unless you have an award ticket on hold while you earn more miles it will likely be gone. There are only a few award tickets and while some may appear at a later date it is always a chance. You need to start almost a year ahead, if you have exact times you need. You can sometimes get last minute if you are flexible, but you never know.

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
201 posts

I wouldn't debate your choices for too long or you may find that your options are no longer available.

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, Usa
237 posts

I still need to earn a few more miles before I can get the tickets, and that is going to take a couple months. If they are all gone at that point, I'll just have to change my travel plans to Fall. I might have a bit more cash for the trip at that point anyway. In the meantime ill keeping planning a couple different travel scenarios and see what will work best when the time comes.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

We've flown to Europe several times using United miles. I've found that you need to book tickets as soon as available, especially saver/off season, which I believe is around 330 days out, in order to get the most direct and best options. So by looking at April, the good flights using miles have probably been snagged up months ago. We are planning on a trip to Scotland the end of Sept 2014, and in order to book using saver fares, we'll be looking and booking in October sometime. When you see flights that work, be ready to book. If you wait even a day, they may disappear.