Tips from an Alum: Finding Cheap Flights in Europe

One of the most liberating and simultaneously infuriating parts of studying abroad is planning your own trips. When you live in Europe for a semester, other countries are just a quick plane ride away, providing a unique opportunity for extensive travel experiences. But booking those first few tickets can be a bit overwhelming. Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Begin with a general search

One of my favorite sites to use while in Europe was Skyscanner.com. This is a great place to get an overview of the best deals and it is very user friendly. There are plenty of airlines offering different options, so it’s good to get a feel for what’s out there before getting specific. Many students will book with RyanAir or EasyJet for the best rates.

2. Book early

Within our first few days in London we were told that if we wanted to travel on the weekends we needed to start looking into flights right away. I was still adjusting to life in England, let alone worrying about other trips! But it was good advice, especially in regard to popular travel dates like spring or winter break. It might be rough to cough up the cash so far in advance, but it will save you a bunch of money and stress in the long run.

3. Be flexible with dates and times

If you book early you’re also able to be more flexible with your travel dates, which makes a huge difference. Typically, flights are cheaper on weekdays than weekends, and cheaper late at night or early in the morning than during the day. 

4. Be creative with routes and airports

It’s also beneficial to be flexible about where you’re flying. Sometimes it’s far cheaper to fly into a nearby country and then take a second flight or a bus or train. And hey, it’s one more travel spot to check off! Even a different airport in the same city can mean a significant slash in price. 

5. Pay attention to baggage restrictions and hidden fees

Budget airlines don’t have much space for your legs or your luggage so pack lightly. I know it’s tempting to try to sneak past with a slightly oversized bag but let me tell you, it’s not worth it. When you and your roommate are stuck holding up an entire flight of impatient passengers and paying an extra $90 to check in a little carry-on, you’ll really wish you’d brought fewer sweatshirts.

**Beware of extra fees. Airlines can offer such cheap flights because they charge customers ridiculous amounts for everything from early boarding to paying with a credit card. Always, always, always pay close attention to the total price while going through the booking process because clicking or ignoring something could cause it to skyrocket. Overall, when it comes to traveling in Europe, it’s good to remember that convenience and low-prices seldom go hand-in-hand. 

Hear more advice from other alums at pre-departure seminar.

Sharp on the ferry to Greenwich
Sharp on the ferry to Greenwich


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