In March, Hasani and I took a romantic trip to London and Paris. Even though we just celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary in September we considered our vacation a long delayed honeymoon. It was our first time away from the kids together for nine blissful days, it was amazing! We missed the kids, and Oliver but it was so good to connect one on one and experiences so many firsts together. It also marked our first trip abroad together and Hasani’s first time using his passport. Our first time riding the Tube together and visiting the Eiffel tower at midnight, it was a short walk from our hotel so we figured why not!
When we started planning our trip at the end of last year, I was determined to find affordable flights to Europe. I cringe when I think back on how much my tickets to London the first time around a few years ago cost me. I spent about $1200.00 on my RT flight from Sacramento to London.
When Hasani and I flew to London in March our tickets were under $800.00 for TWO Round Trip tickets NON-STOP. YES you read that right!! I could have had so much extra spending money when I visited went. Think about how much dollar bills shrink when converted into Pounds and Euros!! It feels brutal! Plus, I had several layovers on my first time to UK, I was exhausted when I arrived!
Hasani and I are planning our next getaway for early next Spring, we’re thinking about Europe again and I’m applying the tricks I’ve learned over the past few years to find amazing deals on flights. I often talk with my friends about how they can find good deals on airfare and I want to pass those tips along to you so you make the all the places you want to visit a reality!
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How to Score Cheap Tickets to Europe
ONE // Go in the Low Season
When selecting the destination for your vacation go in the off-season! Yes it's tempting to travel when the weather is perfect, but you’re going to pay a premium. Both in your airline tickets and hotel expense or AirBNB. When thinking of a destination, I usually google when is the low season for [insert name of destination] and then I read up on the weather in Tripadvisor. When we planned our trip to London and Paris, we knew there was a huge chance of rain and colder temps at the beginning of March. BUT we also knew we could afford to stay longer due to lower airline prices and lower hotels costs. We were able to upgrade the location of our hotel because we saved so much money on our airline tickets. Yes it rained during our trip, London was more drizzly so we packed the right clothes for the weather and still walked all day, it was lovely and uncrowned! While in Paris it also rained, on the first day I was bummed but then I realized, I’m walking on the rain, in Paris and the Eiffel Tower is right in front of my, I’m living my best life!
TWO // Search More than One Website for Deals
Using the right airfare website can be your ticket to finding an amazing deal on airplane tickets. For US flights I love Fly.com I always search ‘deal of the day’ of find super discounted plane tickets. They also have deals on flights to Europe. I also like Skyscanner.com you can search globally for airline tickets, looking for the best deal along with seeing what’s on sale. A few hacks I learned when suing Skyscanner, make sure you include nearby airports (I live in Sacramento, Ca which can sometimes be expense to fly out of, so I make sure I’m open to flying out of San Francisco, Oakland to save a lot of coins) select your departure airport and leave the destination blank and search the whole month you want to travel it will list all the countries and from there you can narrow down your vacation and dates! I also visit the airline website and look for deals, airlines like Norwegian, Delta and American Airlines often run sale
THREE // Fly a Budget Airline with Good Reviews
For our vacation with flew Norwegian Airlines, considered a budget airlines and loved it! I still can’t get over how affordable our tickets where! With that said, we enjoyed both our flights there and back! We flew out of Oakland, California and the flight left on time and it was a smooth ride. When dealing with a budget airline, they charge you for everything! Which can easily take your budget ticket for inexpensive to pricey! We opted to not to buy an airline meal, I don’t like airplane food and I refuse to pay a premium! Lol Instead we brought plenty of snacks packed in our carry-on and even sandwiches from Subway!
Norwegian Airlines sells small meals and snacks during the flight at decent rates so it wasn’t a big deal. Norwegian allows one free carry-on and one free bag providing it fits within their size and weight requirements, so just read the fine print and you’ll be fine! For my personal item, I used this small rolling luggage bag which held all my purse, camera, makeup and more inside. Hasani used a side bag his is carry on. We paid for one bag to be checked, just in case we didn’t pack light enough.
Before booking our ticket, I read all the reviews I could find online about Norwegian Airlines, the majority were positive, I weeded out the reviews were you can tell the person is cranky regardless if they were flying first class!! I quickly discerned for my research that we’d skip WOW Airlines for our flight to London, the reviews weren’t good! Another way we saved some coins, is not choosing our seats, from all my research, if your tickets are purchased together than your seating assignment will also be together!
Which means me wonder, if we pay for one seating assignment will they still be grouped together!!
FOUR // Be flexible & Always be on the Hunt!
When it comes to planning your dream on-a-budget vacation to Europe be flexible with your dates, location and even the airport you fly out of! Being flexible circles back to tip one, visit in the low season! It’s amazing how much money you can save on your flight being open. When we first were planning our vacation, we were thinking of going to Spain or Portugal, but the airfare wasn’t aligning with our budget and we decided to shift gears. I’m all about making our money go farther and by looking into other options. I love visiting sites like TripAdvisor to look for airfare deals, I also check out their vacation specials and price out what makes more sense for our budget.
FIVE // Travel light and Avoid the Carry-on fees
It’s tempting when packing for your dream vacation to pack your entire wardrobe and bring every single pair of shoes you own. Super tempting. Since budget airlines charge you to baggage fees, read all the fine print and see what you can carry-on for free and what’s going to cost you. Also be realistic when packing and think along the lines of capsule wardrobe and mix and match jeans, with tops and layer. And try every single item and know when you’ll actually wear it! For our trip brought three pairs of shoes, one I wore on the plane (flats) a pair of riding boots for the rain. They where perfect for the weather and a fun dressy pair of Micheal Kors leopard sneakers, I love these MK sneakers too. these To save space in my carry-on I used travel storage bags to pack all my clothes inside. We also wore or heavy coat on the plane vs. trying to fit it inside our luggage. For our next trip across the pond, we’re upgrading our luggage, I was being cheap and the luggage we had sucked!
What are some of your tips for finding cheap airline tickets? And where is your dream trip?