If you’re thinking about a European vacation this year, time to quit thinking and start doing – and FareCompare can help. Follow these tips for the cheapest flights possible.
Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney offers more practical, money-saving tips:
1. Act Now
Prices are rising: We are already seeing fares rising for the summer peak travel period – less so for spring flights.
Don’t purchase at the last minute: The general rule of thumb for trans-oceanic airfare is begin shopping 5 months before departure, but buy tickets at least a month and a half before departure. Airfare prices within that month-and-a-half window before departure can rise sharply.
2. Compare Prices
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many shoppers avoid this step and wind up paying too much for tickets to Europe. Never assume one airline “always” has the cheapest fares – use a comparison site and see exactly what all the airlines are charging for the flights you need. You may be surprised – and may save money.
3. Choose Travel Dates Carefully
Time of year: You’ve probably guessed that spring and fall are cheaper than summer (and winter is the cheapest of all). If possible, try traveling on these dates:
- Before May 20 – 30 (cheapest dates vary by airlines)
- After mid- to late-August (again, this varies by airline)
Days of week: If you must travel during peak summer season (and most of us will), you can still save by avoiding departures/arrivals on weekends. Many cheap flights to Europe call for Monday through Thursday travel, and sometimes Sunday through Wednesday. Often the cheapest fares also require you to include a Saturday night stay in your trip.
4. Choose Destination City Carefully
Some cities in Europe are cheaper than others. As always, popular destinations like Paris and Rome tend to be on the high side, while London veers from less expensive to pricier depending on a wide array of factors including when you travel, the price of oil, and more. Some of the cheaper destinations this year:
*Ireland is often the cheapest destination, especially from Boston and New York.
If these are not your destinations of choice, consider using one of these as your arrival/departure base in Europe, and using it as a launch pad to your final destination via one of Europe’s low-cost carriers. Note: baggage charges on low-cost carriers – even for carry-ons – can be expensive, so research this before you take off.
5. Accept Some Inconvenience
Look at connecting flights vs. non-stops: Usually connecting flights are cheaper, and if you can forego the convenience of a non-stop, the savings may be substantial.
Fly in/out of hub airports: This tip can work for both departure and arrival cities, since generally bigger airports are cheaper. Again, compare prices to/from hubs and your actual destination to be certain of saving.