A trip to the Caribbean may seem like an easy, affordable vacation. But, why not go to Europe instead, especially when it can be cheaper?
Most people don’t realize that a trip to Europe doesn’t need to be expensive. Even if travelers are able to do Europe on a shoestring budget, the trip usually ends up falling on the backburner as soon as they see the cost of flights. That’s because, on a regular day, flights from New York to Barcelona or from Los Angeles to Paris round-trip can show for well over $500. But, with some handy tricks up your sleeve, it’s very possible to find flights to Europe for around $200. At that price, you can be flying to your bucket list European destinations for the same price as two Amtrak tickets in the U.S.!
INSIDER TIPTry changing your country on flight searching websites or your IP address, as this can sometimes yield cheaper results.
Use Google Flights or Skyscanner to Explore
The first step in finding flights to Europe for around $200 is to just explore where you can go for that price. Using Skyscanner, you can choose your departure city and then under your destination city select “everywhere.” Then, when you click on your dates, select “cheapest month” under both the departure and return. This will show you the cheapest possible time to fly to any destination.
Google Flights is another great way to see what’s out there, as they have an “Explore” option as well. But, it’s a little different than Skyscanner, as it does not have a “cheapest month” option, though it does have a “flexible dates” option. Put in your departure city and then write “Europe” in arrival. Then, a screen will pop up which will show you where you can go based on specific dates or flexible dates. You can also filter the price based on what you’re looking to spend.
Google Flights can also be helpful if you already know your specific arrival city (for example, “MAD” is Madrid and “PAR” is Paris). Plug in where you want to go and click on the departure date box, where a calendar will come up. You can scroll through this calendar to easily find the cheapest prices/dates. And check often, as flight deals come up every few weeks or so.
Cross-Check Multiple Third-Party Websites
Whatever deals you find on Skyscanner or Google Flights (or, any other flight search website) always cross-check on others. For example, if you find a flight you like on Kayak, then you should also check it on Orbitz or Google Flights (as well as others) to see which one is giving you the cheapest rate. That being said, avoid any third-party booking sites that are unfamiliar to you or that you haven’t at least done some research on before going forward.
Travel Outside of the High Season
One of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of people finding cheaper flights is strict travel dates. Because most Americans usually travel when they have a vacation from work, such as the summer months, winter holidays, or spring break, prices tend to skyrocket at this time. This is why most people are accustomed to seeing flights to Europe around the $800 mark.
Therefore, one of the easiest and quickest ways to find flights to Europe for around $200 is to be willing to fly outside of the high season dates, or to manipulate the high seasons dates to work in your favor by adding on some vacation days or choosing to fly, for example, on Christmas Day instead of a few days before or after.
Be Willing to Fly From a Different Departure City
In most cases, people are only willing to depart from their home city, which is understandable, especially for those who live in more rural areas. Unfortunately, if you live in a city that’s not a major hub (nor an international airport) like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, or Houston, then flights to destinations in Europe are always going to be more expensive.
One way to bring the cost down significantly is to fly or drive to one of these larger hubs within the U.S., first, and then catching a flight to Europe. For example, the price of flying from Tampa directly to Madrid can be close to $1,500. But, if you can drive to Orlando instead, you can cut that cost by around $1,000. Of course, it’s important to actually break down the cost of doing this, to make sure you’re actually saving money.
Be Willing to Fly to a Different Destination City
Just like the U.S. has hubs, so do European countries and Europe as a continent. Flying to Rome, Paris, Madrid, or Barcelona, is almost always much cheaper than flying to Vienna, Prague, or Budapest. After a long flight to Europe, the last thing you’ll want to do is to get on another flight or spend hours on a train or in a car to get to your final destination. But, the fact of the matter is, if you’re willing to do this, you can save a lot of money on your flight to Europe.
The trick is to then fly into one of the cheaper hubs, then grab another flight or means of transportation to the city you want to go to (which works out perfectly if you’re planning a backpacking trip around Europe). There are many budget airlines in Europe that can get you to where you really want to be for less than $100. In fact, RyanAir sometimes has €1 deals.
Check Out Flying One-Way/Round-Trip/Multi-City
Keeping all these tips in mind, another way to find flights to Europe for around $200 is to compare the difference in the price of a one-way ticket in both directions versus a round-trip ticket, or booking a multi-city ticket instead of combined one-way and round-trip tickets or vice-versa. Again, this takes time and patience, but this trial and error process can save you a lot of money.
Utilize Credit Card Incentives
Last but not least, there are many airlines and credit card companies that offer incentives when you sign up. These incentives will be based on your credit and several other factors, but if you arbitrage this, you can not only save money on flights but even get free flights, too. Delta, for instance, gives a $250 statement credit when you book a flight on their website and apply for the credit card at the time of booking. And, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first four months (depending on the conditions), which can be enough to cover several free flights back to Europe!
Finding cheap flights to Europe is not impossible, but it takes a little bit of patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness.