You Don’t Have to Be Rich! 5 Ways to Find Really Cheap Flights to Europe

If you think Europe is only for the rich – or for the lottery winner or for the pick-up-odd-jobs-while-backpacking crowd, think again. It can be a super-bargain for most frugal of vacation fliers. All you need to know is how to find the best deals and that’s what we’re here for.

LISTEN: More tips for even cheaper flights.

5 Ways to Find Cheap Flights to Europe/U.S.

Eventurist – what to see & do in Europe

OK, so – finding cheap flights to Europe – it’s simply a matter of knowing how and where to look.

1. Always compare airfares

This tip works for most flights around the world and here’s why: No single airline always has the cheapest fares. If you skip the comparison site in favor of a favorite airline because you “know” that one always has great deals, you could pay a more than you have to. Sometimes, a lot more. Always compare airfares.

2. Look at cheap destinations

You can always use a cheaper city as your springboard to other regions via local low cost carriers.

  • Cheaper European cities: These year, we’re seeing a ton of deals to Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) plus Iceland (yes, it’s considered part of Europe). Also cheap: Dublin and Shannon. Dropping in price: Paris. In fact, we’ve seen excellent deals to European cities from Amsterdam to Zurich. This really is a great year for travel to Europe.
  • Cheaper U.S. cities: The best deals may be to major gateway cities like New York or Boston but once you’re in the U.S., look for deals to Denver, Dallas, Southern Florida, Seattle and Washington, D.C. And depending on the departure city, Las Vegas, Los Angles and San Francisco can be cheap, too.

3. Look for flights in late August and beyond

For travel on either side of the Atlantic: Fly Aug. 23 or beyond when prices drop from peak summer highs. Fares typically drop again in mid to late October and stay low through March, with the exception of the higher-priced period including Christmas and New Year’s. In the U.S., domestic travel zooms in late November for the Thanksgiving holiday (and this year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 24).

4. Pick the right route

You’ve got your destination and you see a nonstop flight that looks good. Stop! Do not ding your credit card until you compare the price of the nonstop with the price of a connecting flight. The reason is routes with a stop or two can often be cheaper, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. This isn’t always the case – there are times when nonstops cost the same – but connecting flights are usually cheaper so always compare the cost of different routes. On FareCompare, this is very easy; see that ‘nonstop’ box? Do not check it.

You pay more for nonstops (usually) because you’re paying the airline ‘convenience fee’ and such flights are undeniably more convenient. However, when you fly across the Atlantic, you’re already in for a very long day. If you can save by making that travel day a little longer, why not?

5. Set airfare alerts – right now

If you know where you want to go, set an airfare alert right now. If not sure where you want to go, set alerts for any number of cities. Important: If you receive an alert and like what you see, purchase the ticket right awway! You’re not the only one setting alerts and cheap seats are always limited in number.

Final thought: You can start shopping for flights to Europe/flights to the U.S. five months in advance but it’s best to make the purchase at least a month and a half before take-off. Have a wonderful time.

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Updated: July 6, 2016