Emily: I’ve wanted to go to Croatia for the last several years. I heard wonderful things about the country and how beautiful (and relatively affordable) it was compared to the rest of Europe. It’s located in Eastern Europe and is just a few hours from Venice, Italy, making it a great side trip.
Last year, my friends and I organized a group trip to visit Rovinj, a small coastal town on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. It’s a gorgeous town full of romance. Everything is stunning there, from the streets to the houses. The food is also excellent.
We went for a kizomba dance festival. Later in the trip report series, I will introduce you to kizomba and describe what an incredible dance it is! The dance festival was amazing and Croatia is definitely a place I want to return and spend more time exploring! The trip’s retail cost was ~$17,000 but I paid ~$900.
Captivating Croatia Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Admirals Club Lounge, New York (JFK)
- Part 3 – Air Berlin Flight to Croatia
- Part 4 – Getting to Venice
- Part 5 – A Night in Venice – Gritti Palace Hotel Overview
- Part 6 – A Night in Venice – Gritti Palace Hotel Room
- Part 7 – Apartment in Rovinj Croatia
- Part 8 – Activities in Rovinj Croatia – Discovering the Old Town
- Part 9 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Exploring the Old Church
- Part 10 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes
- Part 11 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Dance Festival Review
- Part 12 – Eating in Rovinj, Croatia
- Part 13 – Shopping in Rovinj, Croatia
- Part 14 – Return Flight on Lufthansa
- Part 15 – Conclusion & Reader Giveaway
Air Berlin Flight Using American Airlines Miles
One of the best routes to reach Rovinj, Croatia, is to fly to Venice and take a bus or a boat to Rovinj. I booked the flights to Venice using American Airlines miles. It cost 30,000 miles 1-way plus ~$18 in taxes and fees!
The retail cost is about $1,000 for a 1-way ticket, so using miles saved me a lot of money! I was also lucky to find Air Berlin seats between New York and Venice (via Dusseldorf).
The other option was British Airways but they charge so much in taxes and fees. Here are some ways to avoid British Airways flights when you search for award seats using American Airlines miles!
I booked the flights in March, or ~4 months in advance. I tried searching for Business Class, but no award seats were available. I kept checking back, especially during the week prior to departure, but didn’t have any luck.
I checked various US departure cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. I also checked different European arrival cities like London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf.
The final route was from Austin to New York, New York to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to Venice, and then from Venice to Rovinj.
The seats were just like domestic coach.
We received a small pillow, a very thin blanket, and an amenity kit. You may want to bring an extra blanket…I was very cold for most of the flight, even after covering myself with 2 blankets and a travel towel.
But, I was very happy for the price!
We even had our own TVs.
The TVs came with a USB port on the side, so you could charge electronics.
The headphones they gave you (free) were very poor quality, so I used my own.
For dinner, we could choose between pasta or chicken. I got the pasta option.
The pasta was excellent! I was pleasantly surprised. Despite its appearance, it was very tasty – better than some of the food I’ve had in Business or First Class on other airlines!
The chicken dish came with mashed potatoes and vegetables. My friend said it was pretty good!
The flight was only ~7 hours, and we received dinner shortly after we took off from New York (JFK). About an hour or 2 before landing, we were served breakfast.
You Can Do It, Too!
It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you if your route is complicated or award seats are hard to find.
1. Using American Airlines Miles
A flight from the US to Europe costs:
- 30,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
- 57,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
- 85,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class
Remember, you can use American Airlines miles to fly on American Airlines and oneworld partners like British Airways, Air Berlin, etc.
2. Using United Airlines Miles
To fly from the US to Europe, you’ll pay:
- 30,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
- 57,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
- 80,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class
Note: United Airlines partner award flights in Business and First Class are 70,000 and 110,000 United Airlines miles 1-way, respectively.
Getting the Miles and Points
The easiest way to get miles and points for Europe is from credit card sign-up bonuses.
If you are new to collecting miles and points, start off by reading our Beginner’s Guide and applying for 1 to 2 credit cards to get comfortable with the process. I apply for 3 to 5 cards every few months, but do what you are comfortable with.
If you have questions on how to complete the minimum spending requirements, check out my tips on meeting minimum spending.
1. American Airlines Miles
Link: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card – 50,000 Mile Offer
Link: Citi AAdvantage Executive Card – 50,000 Mile Offer
Link: CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select Card – 50,000 Mile Offer
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
If you want more American Airlines miles, you can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card or CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select card after making $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account. The $95 on each card is waived the 1st year.
You can also earn 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card after spending $5,000 within the 1st 3 months of account opening.
The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the 1st year, but comes with Admirals Club membership with guest privileges, priority boarding, and 1 free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions traveling on the same domestic itinerary.
These perks can offset the annual fee, especially if you fly often on American Airlines!
And remember, you can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. When you move 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, you’ll earn a 5,000 mile bonus.
So the sign-up bonuses on the AMEX Starwood personal and small business cards are a terrific way to earn more American Airlines miles!
2. United Airlines Miles
Link: United MileagePlus® Explorer Card (Personal)
Link: United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card (Small Business)
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Ink Plus
United Airlines miles are easy to earn! That’s because they’re a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. So you can move Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available) to United Airlines instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
Keep in mind, Chase is changing their application rules for airline and hotel cards. So if you’ve opened ~5+ credit cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for airline cards like these starting in April 2016.
Using American Airlines miles to fly Air Berlin was a great option! Flying to Europe for less than $20 was a steal because regular priced 1-way flights are ~$1,000.
Flying coach on Air Berlin was comfortable (just bring a blanket or a sweater!) and I was happy to save miles for future trips.