Europe is always a major contender on every traveler’s bucket list, but with so much to see and do it’s hard to plan the ultimate European vacation. Most of us would love to travel in Summer, but its common knowledge that it is the high season for tourism and prices are highly depending on when and how you book.
Do I travel by train from London all the way to Berlin? How can I add a few days in Rome? Where can I fly into to get the best deals while seeing the most?
Well, we’ve put together a short guide to help you plan the most all-inclusive European summer vacation without breaking the bank. Our big tip: book early, book smart!
But when, you might ask. December and January are the magic hour for finding great deals on roundtrip flights to Europe through the first week of May as well as the Sep-Oct shoulder season. Pay regular attention to airline deals, and make sure to sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights email list to grab a deal early (before the rest of the cyber-community crashes the party).
As far as who to book with, there are many options and rotating deals depending on the airline. Checking CNN’s Travel Intel page regularly can give you the heads up on upcoming launches for, or increased service to, hot destinations in Europe from an airport near you.
For those flying into Europe from Asia, cheap flight options are popping up left and right, from operators in Anatolia and the Middle East – such as Qatar, Ethihad, and Emirates – as well as airlines serving the Far East like China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China.
First off, clear your cookies or search in incognito. Though it is not as common as it used to be, airlines (and other online companies) would keep track of customer’s search histories and would vary the price based on their spending and search habits. For example, regularly searching “Europe flight deals” may cause you to see higher price points in the long run, whereas another user could see a cheaper option.
When this has come to light in the past, companies quickly roll-backed these practices and issues apologies, but it’s still found here and there. The best practice is to regularly clear your cookies or search in incognito to avoid paying too much.
At the same time, make sure to compare search engines when booking flights. There are a myriad of options – Google Flights, Skyscanner, cheapOair, and Momondo, just to name a few – so you’ll have plenty of deals to compare.
But be aware that these examples (and most booking sites) are affiliate networks, meaning they don’t manage the flights themselves, they just sell the tickets, so their discounts are limited. However, if you check directly with the airlines, you may just stumble upon their hidden deals that they don’t share with booking sties.
Lastly, be flexible when it comes to trip planning. Direct flights to your chosen destination may not be the best option, especially given Europe’s high speed rail network. Relatively cheap and with a variety of hub cities to choose from, high-speed rail is one of the most affordable – and scenic – ways to explore Europe.
This may mean you have to change your prime destination for the trip but it’s well worth to your wallet and travel experience. Instead of flying direct to Florence, you could take a cheaper flight to Milan and hop on a train with Alitalia to Florence, cutting through the gorgeous Italian countryside in just 1 hour and 40 minutes.
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