I have never been to Ireland.
Given Grace’s incredible enthusiasm for the country, it’s amazing I’ve made it this long without hopping a flight across the Atlantic. When Grace returned from her most recent trip last week, she was already determined to sneak another trip in this year and, willing accomplice that I am, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes”.
One week later, and we have the flights for a long weekend in Ireland booked in December. Throwing a trip together in a such a short period of time may seem impetuous, but both of us always keep an open mind when it comes to travel, so a long weekend in Ireland was easy to commit to.
This trip is especially exciting because it marks the first time that the authors of The Avid Wanderer will be wandering together.
We ended up getting a fabulous deal on the flight thanks to Wow Air and Google Flights, so this weekend getaway that won’t break the bank. By having flexible dates and a willingness to travel out of different airports, we were able to book a flight to Ireland for under $500. As Grace booked this flight, I’ll leave it to her to explain the specifics, but suffice it to say I’ll be using Google to book all my flights from now on.
I’m sooo excited to be leaving the country this year, and can’t wait to visit a new place that comes so highly recommended. Now, I’ll just need some help packing. Are six pairs of shoes sufficient for a four day trip?
This December I’ll take my 5th trip to Ireland.
Without a doubt Ireland is currently my favorite place to visit. I rarely have luke warm feelings on anything, and get extremely passionate about the things I like. I wish I could be the type of person who could watch a movie, like it, and it would end there. If I like it, I’m researching every detail about how it was made, the lives of the actors, their families, the location, the book it was based on, and so on. I get excited about things, and I get really into them. Visiting Ireland has become a bit like that for me recently and I feel a real connection to the place.
While traveling in Portugal I read an article about WOW Air offering $99 flights from BWI (my closest airport) to Dublin. My first thoughts were skeptical. After all, Ryanair has been teasing $10 flights from the US to Europe. I figured this was lofty idea for the future which I would never see. But of course I jumped on my phone and started searches. My heart lept – there they were. Not every day and not always $99 – but real low-cost international flights. Some were $199, $250, $300.
Anyone living in the US is used to paying ridiculous prices for airfare. Europeans are used to traveling inter-country for $20 on Ryanair, but this is a whole new world for US international flights where it’s hard to find anything under $800-$1,000 round trip from the US to anywhere in Europe.
I sent Laine an iMessage to get ready and pack her bags.
The moment I got home (July 19th) I started looking up the next flight. I lasted a whole 8 days stateside before booking my next international flight.
Below I’ll show the madness that documents how I look up these details.
I knew we’d use WOW Air as no other airlines come close in price, but I still always start with Google Flights when I search. Google Flights shows you cheaper date options automatically and makes other cost saving suggestions. It’s also fast and responsive, and as I’m about to plug in about a hundred different options so I want it to work quickly and effectively. You can also enter your local airport and a destination as vague as “Europe” and see prices for the entire continent on a specified date.
Flight searches will include nearby airports, but not if they are in a different country. In Europe we can easily get an inexpensive flight from Dublin to another city, in the event that the other city has a good price for the return to BWI. Search engines won’t help with this, so you’ll have to plug these in individually to compare prices.
Our original idea was to leave Thanksgiving night (November 26th) to take advantage of the Friday we all had off of work. The search yielded a good price from BWI-DUB but the return was too expensive. Ok, location tweak.I pulled up the Ryanair flight routes from Dublin to see where we can fly on the cheap. I make a list and then plug all of those airport codes into the return in google flights. Copenhagen was the winner! It’s a $27 flight from Dublin and the return to BWI was under $200.
But we’re not tied to those dates and essentially we’re then spending more time traveling. Via the google flights price grid, a flight on December 3rd was found for just over $200, and a return on the 7th for $130. YES! Now, we waited as Danielle who would also be coming on the trip would have to request off of work. When you find a great deal, it’s hard to wait even a few hours as you never know when it will disappear.
The next morning the return flight for $130 was no more. (RIP). And searching in Google flights yielded only flights over $300. But, a visit back to WOW Air’s booking website found us a return for right around $200. Why were they different? No idea. The flight can now once again be found through Google flights, but where it went yesterday? Mysteries. But it didn’t matter, we had our flight!
If you type these travel dates and places into Orbitz at this moment the cheapest flight you will find is $756.16 via Aer Lingus. Not all search engines pull from the same airlines, and budget airlines are often excluded. It stinks and can make travel seem very expensive. We’ve compiled a list of budget airlines and regions which will hopefully prove helpful. Sometimes airlines don’t specialize in an area, but they’ll have a layover where you want to go. There are endless variables, and unfortunately there really isn’t a shortcut. It takes time to look up all of these options if you want to find the best price.
The absolute biggest factor is your travel date flexibility. It is absolutely possible to fly from the US to Dublin for $99 each way. Those dates didn’t work for us, but if they work for you you’ll have an amazing deal waiting for you.
The countdown begins!