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I have been trying to book 2 tickets to Sweden for several months now.  My wife and I have 6 kids, as many of you know, and one of the things that we try to do is take one long distance “date” with each kid each year.  I have 3 and my wife has 3.  We’ve done trips to the Grand Canyon, hiking in Texas, New York City and even shorter trips to Louisville or Columbus.  Since we homeschool several of the kids, I even make them write blog posts for the trip and count it as “school” 😀

(READ MORE: 4 mistakes my Dad made in New York City – don’t let this happen to you!)

(READ MORE: 6 hiking tips from a first time hiker)

My 8 year old son decided that this year, he wanted to go to Sweden.

When I found cheap fares to other places in Europe, I tried to talk him out of Sweden and into Amsterdam or Madrid (or wherever).  I talked up the new places, but his response was “Yeah Dad that sounds nice.  Maybe we could do that another time but let’s do Sweden this year :-D”

Lesson learned – if you want to “chase the fare, not the destination”, don’t make the destination so specific!

(SEE ALSO: The truth of the traveler’s triangle – the relationship between time, price and location)

Looking for deals

So I’ve been looking for deals.  My thought was that with the variety of sub $400 fares from the US to Europe, we should be able to find a deal and pay for it with cash or cash points.  We found many, but most of them would require 2 stops, multiple positioning flights or both.  Traveling with a kid, the schedule was fairly important – while there’s probably no escaping a redeye on a flight from the US to Europe, there’s a big difference between a red eye that leaves at 7pm and one that leaves at 11:30pm (like the Norwegian Airlines JFK-ARN flight)

(SEE ALSO: 4 tips to survive on a red eye in economy)

I looked at just about every combination of miles, points, cash and more but was just stuck in analysis paralysis, which is an unfortunately too common habit of mine.

FlexPerks to the rescue?

I’ve had about 60,000 US Bank FlexPerks for several years and have had trouble booking anything with them.  It just always seemed that whenever there was a time where FlexPerks made sense, something else made more sense.  Plus, given the tiered chart of FlexPerks, it would KILL me to not find that perfect $399 fare since otherwise I would be “wasting” them.

But when I found direct flights from Newark to Stockholm that had a reasonable schedule, I decided to go for it.

The early evening departure means that we won’t be overtired trying to sleep on the red eye, and the early afternoon return back to Newark means that we’ll have enough time to make it back home without having to stay another night and fly back in the morning.  Plus the direct flights to Stockholm mean that we’ll have the whole day of our arrival to explore Stockholm, and not be stuck in airports waiting on connecting flights.

The ~$570 flights meant that 2 tickets cost 60,000 FlexPerks, nearly my entire stash which is good – that way I don’t have to worry about those any more.  For positioning to Newark, I booked 2 CVG-EWR flights on United for 10,000 miles + $5.60.  It’s too bad the United devaluation hasn’t hit yet (said nobody ever), since then those flights would have only been 8,000 miles, saving me 8,000 miles total.

I’m glad to have this behind me and booked – now it’s just a matter of getting hotels booked and activities for things to do with kids in Stockholm!

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