Book the Flight to Europe
My husband and I have been accumulating frequent-flier miles for years. But even if you don't have a secret stash, you can snag an airfare that may not be much more expensive than flying cross-country to a destination within the States. In addition to comparing fares online (check out expedia.com, orbitz.com, and kayak.com), book your trip during the shoulder seasons.
"Visit Europe during spring, which is roughly March and April, and fall-September through November," says Nancy Schretter, managing editor of familytravelnetwork.com. "You'll get great deals and nice weather." Summer, especially August, is when airfares peak. It's also when most Europeans go on vacation, so you'll also have a tougher time booking the cheapest and best accommodations. Also, try to fly midweek, when flights aren't as full.
Many international airlines offer discounts for children 2 to 11. For instance, on Air France, a child accompanied by an adult can receive as much as a 33 percent discount. Full-price tickets usually kick in at age 12. You have to ask for these discounts and may need to doggedly pursue the matter with reservationists-but don't give up, they do exist. Kids under 2 no longer fly for free on international flights. They can ride on your lap for just 10 percent of the adult fare but, be warned, this isn't the sanest way to travel.
BOTTOM LINE Airfares from the U.S. East Coast will cost you between $400 and $1,000 (or more) depending on when you go. West Coast fares are usually $200 more. You can save $300 to $500 per ticket by shopping carefully. Keep in mind that June 1 through October 15 will be the most expensive.