The first major outlay of cash you’re going to encounter is probably booking your flight to Europe. But don’t worry, a flight doesn’t have to break the bank.
Flights to Europe can vary greatly in cost. I’ve flown from my home airport on the east coast to Europe for as cheap as $370 and as expensive as $1200. A lot depends on when and where you’re flying.
How to Get Cheap Airfare
- Shop around! Check all the flight search engines we have listed and the airline websites directly.
- Try to have departure and return dates that are mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday), flights are generally cheaper on these days.
- Be flexible. Most travel search engines allow you to specify a range of dates and multiple airports. You can usually find some really good deals by being flexible about the day and the airport.
- Be open ended with your starting/end points. Flying into certain airports like Dublin or Madrid can save you hundreds. Tools like Kayak’s Explore or Fly.com’s Fare Calendars can be helpful in identifying cheap airports.
- Begin your search as soon as possible. You can usually find the cheapest flights 2-3 months ahead of your departure.
- Consider using Frequent Flyer Miles. Most carriers offers flights to Europe for as little as 50,000 points round-trip. Don’t have many miles? See our tips on earning frequent flyer points cheaply and easily.
Airfare within Europe
As a backpacker, you might not think about traveling by air, but since the explosion of budget no-frills European carriers, flying can be a very cheap option.
These flights are great for small one-way jaunts, with fares as low as 1 euro cent + taxes. Carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet allow the backpacker to cover a lot of ground, without spending days and days on the train.
Ryanair is Europe’s largest low-cost carrier and it is one of the world’s largest and most successful airlines. They offer rock-bottom prices on no-frills flights across Europe. If you can cope with their policies (paying extra for checked luggage, selling lotto tickets in air, high prices for in-flight food etc.), than you can jet around Europe for very little.
easyJet is Ryanair’s nicer older brother. Their flights are a bit more comfortable and they don’t off the impression that they’re a huge scam, but their tickets are a little bit more pricey.
Whichbudget.com has an index of all European budget airlines and the places they fly. Just plug in a starting airport and it will show you all the places budget airlines fly from there. This site can be really useful when trying to plan out an itinerary.