How to Fly to Europe on a Budget


It is possible to snag affordable flights to top European cities like Amsterdam.

Wandering the charming streets of Amsterdam. Eating your way through the exciting food scene in Berlin. People-watching at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. When it comes to booking that dream vacation to Europe, you’ll find countless choices. But if you’re like many modern travelers, a limited budget could influence your holiday plans. Before you book any flight to Europe, heed these tips to ensure that you snag the best price on your trip across the pond.

Fly at off-peak times.

According to travel expert, Pauline Frommer, Co-President of Frommer Media, February is the least expensive month to fly internationally, probably because most people looking to travel to Europe would rather do so in warmer weather. That said, if you’re not opposed to a winter vacation in London, check airfare prices for February, which could be the most affordable month to travel. Summer is usually the priciest.

Book with a discount airline, but….

Norwegian, WOW, XL Airways and other discount airlines usually feature lower fares than non-discount carriers but be careful of hidden fees. Often, the least expensive fare category doesn’t even guarantee seat selection, and when you board an overnight flight, comfort matters. Luggage is usually an added cost and be prepared to pay for drinks. You may not even get a glass of water on the flight.

Fly a foreign airline.

Europe-based airlines often offer lower fares than their American competitors. Service isn’t typically compromised either. Unless you fly a discount airline, meals, beverages, and luggage are often included in the ticket price.

Consider booking flights on Europe-based airlines.

Be willing to fly into a different airport.

If a fare is beyond your budget, consider flying into an airport nearby (fly into Milan and take a train to Venice, or fly into Paris or London and book a separate flight to your destination since flights are incredibly cheap within Europe.) Flying into a different airport could also provide the opportunity to explore another city for the first or second time.

Have flexible dates.

Saturday and Sunday are often the most expensive days for flying. Depart and return on a Tuesday or Wednesday instead. Frommer says that flying to and from Europe on Thursdays and Fridays sometimes proves to be friendliest on the wallet.

Consider a stopover flight.

Icelandair, WOW Airlines, Tap Portugal, and KLM feature stopover options in their hubs. Not only could you land a discount fare, but you can venture to a second destination on the same ticket.

Book far enough in advance.

Booking at least 60 days in advance of your trip may save you some cash, according to Frommer. If you plan to travel during peak season, such as summer, expect to book your flight 160 days or more before you fly. Booking flights in less than six weeks from your departure date almost always means a higher price.

Price your flight on various booking sites.

Frommer suggests checking Momondo, Skyscanner, and Cheapair for the lowest fares. Use Google Flights as a search engine to see a range of carriers and prices on different dates, then book the lowest fare from there.

Enjoy your trip!

By Tracy Kaler