How to Book Cheap Flights in Europe

If you find yourself in Europe, one amazing thing (in addition to the food) is the cheap air transportation. For reasons I don’t fully understand, air travel is often the cheapest way to get around. Budget airlines like EasyJet, Ryan Air, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and others are often much cheaper than taking a bus or train.

The best way (that I know of) to search for cheap flights is to use Skyscanner and Google (search “flight from Madrid to London”, for example. Both sites allow for very flexible searches (flights to everywhere, by month, etc.), and Google will actually show you how to save money by shifting dates slightly.

Skyscanner Search

Google Flight Search

The key to successfully taking advantage of budget air travel in Europe is to travel light. Carry-on only is a must if you want to be able to buy the cheapest fares (this is where having our Tortuga backpacks really comes in handy).

Here’s what our upcoming travel looks like with prices (for two people):

Madrid to Brussels (9/1)

By far the most expensive leg of the trip, but Brussels has very cheap flights to the rest of Europe, so it’s worth the extra cost, since flights from Madrid are a lot more expensive.

Brussels Air 76.82 euro, $86.75 USD for both

Brussels to Milan (9/4)

We will be visiting a friend in Milan, and might try to make a couple of day trips, too.

Ryan Air 30.58 GBP, $40.38 USD for both

Milan to Cologne (9/8)

We will be visiting friends near the French-German border, so we will be taking a bus from Cologne to Frankfurt while we’re there.

Ryan Air 30.58 GBP, $40.38 USD for both

Cologne to London (9/13)

We will basically just have a layover in London, so no fun this time.

Ryan Air 30.58 GBP, $40.38 USD for both

London to Santander (9/13)

We will be staying in Northern Spain for a few days before leaving Europe for Central America.

Ryan Air 30.58 GBP, $40.38 USD for both

Total Cost: $248.27 USD

$124.14 USD per person, which works out to $24.83 USD per flight

I should also note that these flights were all booked on 8/16, so only two weeks in advance. Cheaper flights can be found if a bit more planning is done.

I put together a map of our upcoming trip, because I like maps…

Summary:

  • Use carry-on luggage only, and fly discount airlines
  • Use Skyscanner or Google to search for flights (Check out resources page)
  • Be flexible (times, dates, and even locations)
  • Be comfortable being slightly uncomfortable (some of the budget airlines have a reputation as being “flying buses”, but many are improving).

Thanks for reading!

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