Europe Summer Travel Guide 2013

So this is the year you finally go to Europe – or return for the tenth time. Either way, we’ve got you covered with tips, advice and destination ideas. But first things first:

Europe – The Basics

Two things to check on right now:

  • Passport: Be sure it’s up to date. Some countries won’t let you in if your passport will expire up to six months after you return home. Find out your country’s requirements and check passport dates carefully.
  • Destination info: Find out if any special alerts or warnings have been issued about the country you’ll be visiting. They’ll be posted on the U.S. State Department’s website at Travel.State.Gov – which also includes numerous handy travel tips.

Listen as travel expert Rick Seaney offers more tips on finding cheap flights to Europe:

Europe – Where to Go

Ready? Pick a country. Pick two or three! Click on the place name to find a cheap flight.

 

Cheaper European Destinations

Barcelona Madrid
Dublin Moscow
Frankfurt Zurich

Here’s an easy way to save: Europe’s cheapest seasons

More Expensive European Destinations

Athens Paris
Lisbon Rome
London* Warsaw

*Note: Cheap and expensive are relative terms, plus airfare prices can and do change without notice. London in particular seems to vary between somewhat cheap/somewhat expensive. But say you have your heart set on one of the more costly destinations such as Rome – will any other city do? We say, go for it. The following tips will help make it more affordable.

Got a ‘free’ airline ticket to Europe? Better read this first.

Europe – How to Find Cheap Flights

  • Compare prices: You must use a comparison airfare search site. If you simply go to one or two airline sites, you may not get the best deal (and may pay hundreds more than you have to)
  • Shop one ticket at a time: If you’re traveling with a group it can pay to shop one ticket at a time because airline reservation systems require all tickets on a single reservation be the same price – even if there are a few cheaper seats. Example: You are shopping for a group of six – if there are two seats for $800 and the rest are $1,000, you will be quoted the higher price for all six. It’s a little more effort to shop one-by-one but it can be worth it.
  • When to purchase tickets: For trans-oceanic flights, you can begin shopping 5 months before departure but make your purchase at least a month-and-a-half before you plan on leaving.
  • When to fly: If possible, try to avoid the peak season in the heart of summertime. Prices make a leap beginning in mid-May then drop down during the last week of August. Also, flights during the middle of the week are generally $20 to $40 cheaper than weekends. Finally, many of the cheapest flights require a Saturday night stay, so book accordingly.

Europe – Other Ways to Save

  • Break up your flight: If you live in smaller city, compare prices from your town – then, compare prices from a big hub and include the price of a discount airline flight from your town to the hub – you might see significant savings. However, leave yourself plenty of time (at least several hours) to make connections at the hub, in case of delays in getting there.
  • Fly to a cheaper city first: You may find it cheaper to fly to a city that is not your ultimate destination, say Dublin, and then fly one of Europe’s many discount carriers to your real destination, but a word of warning: some discount airlines have high baggage fees and plenty of restrictions regarding carry-on luggage.
  • Try connecting flights: These can be cheaper than non-stops. However, connecting at London’s Heathrow can be expensive, typically adding another $50 per person to the cost of a trip.

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Published: February 18, 2013