How to save money on flights when you travel in Europe

 

I love traveling around Europe, especially when I know I’ve gotten a sweet deal on the flights! My first year living in Spain I went to 9 countries in 9 months (and twice as many cities) all on the budget of a recent college graduate. How did I do it? You’re about to find out!

Let’s start with some quick tips to save money on flights:

  • Weekends are the most expensive days to fly so if you want to save money on flights try traveling during the week
  • Keep in mind spring/summer are high season for most European destinations – you’ll find better deals traveling in off season (like winter/fall); places like southern Spain (hello Seville!) and the Canary Islands still have decent weather in winter. Also, I went to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Ghent in winter and the christmas markets were fantastic!
  • When you find cheap flights on websites like Kayak, LastMinute and Travelocity check the price of the same flight on the actual airline’s website – sometimes those sites add a “finder’s fee” so you’ll get a better deal reserving your flight through the airline directly

Check out my go-to websites for finding the best deals on flights below. Good luck 🙂

Skyscanner – Find the best prices year-round

I love Skyscanner! Whenever I’m considering a new trip this is my first stop. You’re able to use the website to scan prices for months at a time – so if you’ve got some extra vacation days and aren’t sure when to use them stop by skyscanner to find the best deals! 1. Go to skyscanner.com, choose your currency/language, and potential destinations 2. When you go to select your travel dates, choose the “whole month” option 3.  You can use the price calendar or chart to check out the different prices available 4. I prefer the chart version personally…it’s easier to see what days have the cheapest flights! 5. Choose the flight times and prices that work best for you and proceed to checkout

***UPDATE 7/23/2015: SkyScanner now has a “multi-city” option for booking multi-destination flights, hurray!

eDreams – the best way to book cheap multi-destination flights

I discovered this nifty feature on edreams.com while researching ways to book multi-destination flights. I was organizing my family’s next Euro-trip and we wanted to fly from Seville to Paris, Venice, Rome and end the trip in Barcelona…not an easy task especially with a group of 7 people. eDreams was a godsend because it made finding flight combinations for all our destinations super easy! 1.  On the homepage look for the “Multiple Destinations” option (note: the homepage might look different based on your location but it should still have the same options) 2. Add all your destinations and departure dates – you can leave the 3rd spot blank if you only need to reserve 2 flights 3. Scroll up and down the page to see what price range/travel times you prefer. Once you’ve chosen your flights click “select” and fill out the necessary details on the following pages to checkout.

RyanAir – The most hated airline in Europe really isn’t that bad!

It’s possible you’ve heard some horror stories about Ryanair. Up until recently they literally were “the most hated airline in Europe”…BUT they’re trying really hard to change that! It’s actually a great site to find the cheapest flights around; they only operate flights out of certain airports and do multiple flights a day which allows them to charge such cheap tickets (essentially they’re just flying buses). Don’t expect anything luxurious on a RyanAir flight and be prepared for endless promotions while you’re in the air (buy a raffle ticket, buy a calendar, want some hot food?) but if you just stick your headphones in and read a good book you’ll be good to go!

Things to remember when flying with Ryanair:

  • ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) print out your ticket before the flight; if you don’t you’ll have to pay like 40 euros when you check-in at the airport (you can check-in and print your tickets a week before the flight so it should be manageable)
  • If you’re not checking luggage you need to be 100% SURE that your carry-on bag is small enough to meet Ryanair’s size requirements; you’ll get charged extra money if it’s too big. When in doubt just pay for a  bag when you check-in online – it’s not worth getting charged double at the airport. You are allowed an additional small carry on bag (like a purse) which is nice because you weren’t able to do that until recently. I usually try to travel with a backpack when  flying Ryanair; I’ve got a big one but they usually don’t give it a second glance to backpacks compared to the rolling bags
  • If you’re a non-EU citizen (American for example) you have to do a “visa check” at the airport; at some airports you have to go to the little Ryanair office to get your ticket stamped saying they checked your passport, and at other airports you can do it at the main Ryanair counter where people check their bags. It’s annoying but it only takes two seconds, they just look at your passport and stamp your boarding pass.

Now that we’ve gotten the bad stuff out of the way let’s get to the good stuff…how to find cheap flights on ryanair.com

1.  Enter your departure city first to see what your arrival options are; different departure airports = different destinations. When I’m looking for flights I’ll check Jerez de la Frontera and Seville for example because I live close to both cities and each one offers different destinations. 2.  When the next page loads you’ll see a list of the daily flights available, the different prices for each day and the different departure times to choose from After you click “continue” you’ll be taken through several annoying pages before you can actually check out. They’ll offer travel insurance, rental cars, assigned seats, blah blah blah…you don’t have to reserve any of it so be careful to select the “no” or the “I don’t need travel insurance” options (which they make hard to find by the way!) until you finally get to the checkout page. Also, Ryanair gives everyone assigned seats now so you don’t need to pay for one or show up two hours early at the gate to wait in line.

Pro tip: If you’re staying in Europe for a while (like working as an English teach or something of the sort) I would recommend subscribing to skyscanner, vueling (if you’re living in Spain) and ryanair’s newsletter because they send monthly/weekly specials on flights to various destinations around Europe – it’s a great way to get inspiration for your next trip if you’re traveling on a budget!

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