The Cheapest Way To Travel To (And In) Europe
According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, more than 11 million Americans visited Europe during 2013, making it the continent that more Americans traveled to than any other – by a long shot. Getting to Europe isn’t cheap, and neither are normal travel expenses, such as food, accommodations, and entertainment. One way to stretch your budget further is to research and find the best deals for getting around Europe. Budget airlines, bus lines, and the well-known Eurail Pass offer a variety of choices for travelers. The best deal for you depends on a number of factors, including when and where you’ll be traveling, how long your overall trip will be, and the number of days you want to spend in each destination. Here’s a quick look at some of the cheapest ways to travel Europe. Note: Any quoted fares are current as of November 20, 2014. (Related: Want to Travel the World in Retirement? Here's How.)
It’s possible to score great deals on airfare from any of several discount airlines. You’ll typically find the lowest prices if you book at least a month in advance, wait for sales, and/or travel during non-peak times. Airlines include:
EasyJet – EasyJet is a London-based discount airline that operates more than 600 routes across 30+ countries, flying between more primary airports across Europe than any other airline. One-way fares from about $45.00. Visit www.easyjet.com for routes and fares.
Ryanair – Based in Ireland, Ryanair is Europe’s only ultra-low cost airline, and it guarantees their airfares are lower than everyone else’s. The airline operates more than 1,600 flights each day from 70 bases, connecting 183 destinations in 30 countries. One-way fares start at about $20. Visit www.ryanair.com to check routes and fares.
Transavia – Transavia is a Dutch-based discount airline that operates as an independent division of the Air France-KLM group. The airline runs scheduled and charter flights to nearly 100 destinations. One-way fares start at about $35. Visit www.transavia.com to view routes and fares.
Vueling – Based in Spain, Vueling flies to over 100 destinations covering the main cities in Spain, Europe, North Africa and Near East. One-way fares start at about $35. Visit www.vueling.com to check out routes and fares.
Wizz Air – Hungary-based Wizz Air services more than 340 routes in 35 countries throughout Europe and beyond, from 19 operating bases. One-way fares start at about $45. Visit www.wizzair.com for routes and fares.
Several travel companies service routes by bus throughout Europe and beyond. Busabout (www.busabout.com), for example, offers hop-on/hop-off bus service that lets you decide where to go, and how long you stay in each destination. You can purchase one-way tickets, loop tickets (for example, France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain), or flexible tickets that allow you to design your trip as you go.
Other bus lines include Megabus (www.megabus.com), which offers fares as low as $1.25; and Eurolines (www.eurolines.com), which services more than 600 destinations across 36 European countries. Eurolines offers 15- and 30-day passes good for unlimited travel between 53 cities across Europe. Fares start at about $270 for an adult, 15-day pass. [L7]
The Eurail pass is a ticket that allows you to travel by train throughout 24 countries in Europe. Four different passes are available, and prices vary by pass type and the number of days you’ll be traveling:
Global Pass – Visit up to 24 countries. From $467.
Select Pass – Visit four bordering countries, such as Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. From $281.
Regional Pass – Select from bordering two-country combinations, such as France and Italy, Czech Republic and Germany, and Finland and Sweden. From $175.
One Country Pass – Choose one European country and travel from one city center to the next. From $50.
Youth (25 years or younger on your first day of travel) and child (11 and under) discounts are available, and children under four travel for free. Eurail passes can only be used by non-European residents who have lived outside of Europe for at least six month. Visit www.eurail.com to learn more about tickets, prices and special offers.