With airlines canceling hundreds of flights and even entire routes, this fall promises few bargain airfares for your family’s travels to your favorite places in Europe. And forget about using frequent-flyer miles; those seats are filled with full-fare passengers.
The shrinking number of flights puts even more pressure on the available seats and little hope of any last-minute or fall airfare bargains. There are only two glimmers of good news: The dollar is at an all-time high to the euro and you no longer need to plan a final night around the availability of COVID-19 testing sites.
Families need to look hard for ways to stretch their shrinking travel dollar. Here are a few tips on planning budget travel in Europe.
Look for packages: The more you can package into one deal, the better a price you can expect. This doesn’t mean you must go on a tour — look for independent travel deals packaging air, hotels and car rental, or even two of those.
Team up with friends: Tourcrafters and others offer a free trip to one person when reserving for six or more; that’s a 16 percent discount. Team up with another family if yours isn’t big enough.
Book last minute: If your family is flexible with dates, you can still save on a few last-minute deals. GoAhead Tours, for example, offers a $600 discount for each traveler on late August trips to Ireland, Italy, the Greek Islands, and other European destinations.
Sign up for weekly specials: Gate 1 Travel recently informed subscribers of a special for a week in Italy with airfare, car and hotels for as low as $599 per person.
Read, read, read: The more you learn about a destination, the more money you can save there. Find out where the locals eat, learn about public transport and search out low-cost activities. You’ll also have a richer experience meeting locals instead of other tourists.
Get out of town: Lodging and dining is nearly always cheaper in small towns or suburban neighborhoods than in city centers. Public transport is excellent in Europe, so join the commuters heading into town on the morning trains (or go a bit later to miss the rush) and save big on lodging.
Prepare for canceled flights: While we all hope this never happens, it’s a good idea to research places to stay near airports you’ll be using. When researching, try for a room immediately if you know you’ll be stranded overnight. With a plane full of people in the same situation, you want to be first in line looking for low-cost rooms.
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