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open jaw vs. round trip - seeing Amsterdam, Paris, and places in between

I'm planning to visit the Netherlands, Belgium, and Paris for about 3 weeks this July/August and am wondering what would be the best way to get to and from Europe. In Rick's books, he suggests the open-jaw approach, so I originally planned to fly from Chicago to Amsterdam and then later home to Chicago from Paris. I've started researching flights, however, and found that I could save a lot of money by flying round trip between Chicago and Paris. In this scenario, I'd take the Paris to Amsterdam train after I land. Then I'd work my way back to Paris over the next 3 weeks and fly home from there.

I don't really like the idea of backtracking, but the relatively short distances I'll be covering on this trip make me think a round trip flight might be the best bet, at least financially. Is there anything I'm overlooking here? Thanks for any insights you have. Really enjoy reading these forums!

Posted by
3526 posts

Maybe the cost of double train tickets.

I assume you've determined that RT Paris is cheaper than RT Amsterdam and that multi-city Chicago - Paris and Amsterdam - Chicago is as pricey as the opposite.

You might want to check the cost of the extra train ride between Paris and Amsterdam to see if it eats up the RT savings.

Or you could ignore the costs, plan 2 different train routes and see entirely different things each way.

Posted by
9 posts

Have you checked Norwegian airlines? I have similar itinerary in Spring (from LA to Amsterdam & returning from Paris) & found my best open-jaw deal with Norwegian. - I did have to cobble together my own individual flights, though, to make days/times most ideal for me.

Posted by
527 posts

Nick, are you looking at nonstop flights or ones with 1 or more connections?

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for advice about Norwegian -- will check them out.

I'm not against having a connection somewhere, but I'd rather not go all the way to Istanbul (at least on this trip).

Posted by
11263 posts

Make sure you're looking at "multi city" tickets, rather than two "one way" tickets.

If you do end up with a round trip to Paris, one possibility is to spend a night in Paris, then the next morning take an early Thalys to Amsterdam. This way, you can buy an advance purchase discount ticket without fear of missing it due to a plane delay. Or, just budget the extra money for a last minute ticket (but be careful, it's a lot). If you do go the latter route, you can get a TGV from CDG to Brussels, then connect with an IC train train to Amsterdam instead of the faster Thalys train, if you want to save a little money and don't mind the trip taking longer.

You can find some prices at this website: Use "Roissy" to get the station at CDG airport.

A quick check of the route from CDG airport to Amsterdam shows prices for tomorrow as €124-168, and travel times from 4:06 to 5:58. If you start in Paris Nord Station (as you would if you did this the day after you arrive), the trip takes 3:20 on the Thalys, and 5:06 if you take the Thalys from Paris to Brussels, then the IC from Brussels to Amsterdam.

Posted by
37 posts

I thought that was great advice too although i didn't hear it from Rick Steves. The open jaw strategy wasted an entire day of our time during our three week trip to Europe last summer. You have to get to the airport two hours ahead, go through security, check bags (in our case because Air canada's partner airline in Europe has more restrictive carry on guidelines), possibly transfer at least once within Europe before your arrival point, wait for your bags at the other end and then get from the airport to your next hotel. If I was to do it again I would fly into one city and depart from another, skip the flying within Europe and instead take trains and ferries (or possibly rent a car) everywhere rather than flying. Way more relaxing, train employees are generally friendly and helpful, and you might get to know a few fellow travellers. Flying to and from Europe is enough stress for me. As for the cost the flight within Europe saved us some money but I think a long train trip would have created more enjoyable memories.

Posted by
3533 posts

The OP's discovery of much cheaper trips into and out of Paris rather than an open-jaws with Amsterdam runs counter to my experience. So I set up a little test on It suggested another poster's warning may be accurate: Open-jaws is not two one-way tickets.
My test looked at a date in late July and a return in early August. The open-jaws function into AMS and out of CdG was actually cheaper by more than $100 than the round trip through CdG. Now, prices vary depending on dates, and non-stops are significantly costlier than itineraries with stops. Cheaper means longer, of course; maybe lots longer. Still, ORD to the continent via SAS with a stop in Scandinavia, at 11 to 12 hours, might convince me if it saved $400.
By the way, I am startled at how the prices have gone up against last summer. With fuel craziness and the US$ on a trampoline, it takes real gambling guts to hold out in hopes of a bargain going on sale in late winter or early spring, as has sometimes happened in the past.

Posted by
4 posts

Didn't realize multi city was different than 1 way, but you're right -- the cost is much less for multi city. (I never have flown open jaw before.)

I've noticed some of the "fare tracker" sites I've been playing around with don't seem to offer multi city price alerts like they do for 1 way and round trip. Any sites that are best for multi city price alerts?

Posted by
2081 posts


while youre looking at flights try looking at different in/out departures days too.

also, you will want to look at different combinations of flights. Sometimes it maybe cheaper to just buy your open jaw in/out of europe than it is to try and attach other flights in between.

happy trails.