My husband, my daughter and I want to travel to France and Ireland in December of 2013. How should we go about finding the least expensive flights? We would be flying out of Chicago. From what I have been seeing, the cheapest place to fly into is Dublin, Ireland. Does anyone have suggestions?
First, you should figure out where you want to go in those countries. Did you want to go to Paris, and/or another part of France? And will you be seeing western Ireland, Dublin, both, or somewhere else in Ireland? On the one hand, it's certainly worth checking to see which city is the cheapest. On the other hand, there's a false economy in not going where you want to be (because you got a cheaper flight), then spending a lot of time and money getting to your desired destination. For example, if you want to to see the French Riviera, don't fly to Paris and then spend 6 hours on the train; fly to Nice. Along these lines, you want to fly open jaw (called "multi city" on airline websites), into one city and out of another. Even if it's cheaper to fly round trip to Dublin, for example, you save time and money not backtracking. continued..
continued.. Assuming you want to use Paris and Dublin as your gateway cities, go to Kayak at http://www.kayak.com. Choose "multi city" rather than "one way" or "round trip." Then, put in Chicago to Dublin for your first leg, Dublin to Paris for your second leg, and Paris to Chicago for your third leg, with appropriate dates, and see what you get. Next, try it in reverse; for no clear reason, sometimes it's cheaper. Next, try omitting the middle leg (so, for instance, you would just search for Chicago to Paris and Dublin to Chicago). Then, use Skyscanner at http://www.skyscanner.com to find flights within Europe. It may be cheaper to buy the intra-European segment separately. But watch out for Ryanair (which may be the only carrier on some routes). They're famous for their hostility toward customers, as well as their high add-on fees. Here's a musical warning: http://tinyurl.com/2vxmaod. "There must be extra charges when the flights are 50p." Vueling and Easyjet have better reputations.