travel advice & savings
3 replies
Summer Travel to Europe
ddub122112's profile picture
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My girlfriend and I are planing on backpacking through Europe this summer to celebrate graduating from college. However I am new to international travel and have no idea what types of fares to expect. We plan on departing from either Seattle or Vancouver (whichever is cheapest) around June 14th and returning on August 10th to LAX (have to get back for my brother’s wedding). We are open to flying into and out of any city in Europe that is connected with the global eurail pass.

I was just wondering if anybody had heard of any cheap fares, or had advice as to where to look for cheap fares because everywhere I have looked seems to be in the $1,200 range and I assume there have to be fares cheaper than that.

Thanks for the help.

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Don’t despair (yet) about those $1200 fares. This year is shaping up to be more expensive than the last couple, but you should be able to find something under $1000 once airlines and consolidators start rolling out cheap summer fares. I have a feeling this may come later this year than in previous years since cheap fares for spring haven’t really popped up, but stay alert for sales that can hit at any time and only last for a day or two. Watch this forum for people posting sales and sign up for fare alerts with sites like Bing, Kayak, etc. I don’t think most sites offer multi-city fare alerts, so sign up for alerts from Seattle and LAX to major European cities that often see sales like London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid & Barcelona. One thing about your plan may make it difficult to take advantage of the lowest fares: the cheapest fares often limit your stay to 30 days.

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$1200+ from SEA or YVR to Europe and back in summer is pretty typical. How flexible are you on travel dates? +/- a day, a week, 2 weeks?

A quick check turned up YVR-BCN showing seats available around your dates for $669 USD total. This found with Orbitz, CheapOAir, and FlightNetwork. This is a fantastic airfare for this itinerary—especially considering it will be peak season, staying more than 30 days, and to a destination not typically on sale in summer. The flight is with German airline Condor between Vancouver and Frankfurt, and includes connection on to Spanair which handles the FRA-BCN legs. I tried a lot of combinations, but next-cheapest I found currently avail. for your dates is nearly $1000. I clicked through on Orbitz and it did not come back with the dreaded “we’re sorry this fare is no longer available” message, so if this works for you, I suggest you lock it on now. If you wait, you might do as well, but it’s more likely you’ll end up paying way over $1000 for pretty much anything.

I also checked LTU (to Germany) and Canadian Affair (to UK) but nothing nearly as cheap as this 669 BCN fare.

BTW, you should be able to find the Condor fare with Orbitz using their +/- 3 day flexible search. It shows up much higher on Condor’s site.

Try our Transport forum next door for rail pass advice. I don’t know a lot about the current pass names, but I have noticed that new travelers tend to purchase way more pass than they need… but they can help you get sorted next-door in Transport.

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Don is the master. You are also correct regarding the rail pass. People always buy it for the length they are in Europe. Big mistake. With those cheap air fares, buy your point-to-point tickets in Spain and look into a one way flight to your next country that you will spend 3 or more nights in that city, than start your rail pass as you depart that city and you will save 1 to 2 weeks on a pass.