A big part of traveling budget usually goes to air ticket, especially for Europe trip. Having talked to many people, some tend to assume that Europe tickets are expensive at $2,000.00 or more. Not to mention the “very expensive” domestic train or air tickets that you need for traveling around. When I share with people how much I spent on air tickets, they will be shock and ask how did I managed to get cheap and affordable tickets? I’m no expert but this is what I always do:
1. Plan your holiday in advance.
I will suggest planning your holiday 6 – 9 months in advance, this will ensure that you have sufficient time to look at discount from various airlines and able to wait for and compare prices before purchasing. You do not want to be panicking just one month before your holiday with no tickets available for the dates or timing you want. Try to avoid Christmas or season with special events like Olympic or World Cup. Things will be generally more expensive especially air tickets and hotels. One thing to bear in mind is that you won’t know when will this “good deal” be happening again. Always give a budget and once you found something within that budget, just get the ticket. For myself, my return air tickets to Europe has to be about $1,100. The moment I spot any deal from any of my favorite airline, I’ll just grab them.
2. Subscribe to Airlines for their latest promotion.
When an airline has any promotions, they will blast out an email to their subscription list and keep their “members” updated. Some promotions are only for a limited timing or are in limited quantity, if you are on their email listing, you are able to capture all the information you need at a glance. This will save you the trouble and time needed to enter the website and check if the current promotion has the dates or country that you want. For full fledge airline to fly over to EU zone, my personal favorite will be Lufthansa, Emirates and SIA. I don’t like to transit flight with Emirates and after the disappointing experience with SIA for my recent Bangkok trip, Lufthansa is my current favorite. My air ticket to Paris for January cost $1,108.00 all-in and I think it’s considered a reasonable price. Many people I spoke to spend at least $1,500.00 and above for tickets just flying to and back from EU. Like I mentioned in point 1, if you plan your holiday in advance, you can wait for a good deal like mine instead of having to purchase tickets at original price of $1,400.00 and above. If you register as their members and fly often enough with them, you’ll be able to clock mileage too.
3. Subscribe to EU zone domestic flight .
For domestic airline in EU, subscribe to EasyJet and Ryanair. EasyJet is my personal favorite domestic flight because the seat is spacious, the services are good and all the time I flew with them, it’s always a good experience. EasyJet does not fly to some parts of Europe so I will go with Ryanair for those. They will have 2 major promotions during summer and winter. If you plan your holiday in advance, you can book very cheap air tickets(From EUR0.00 to EUR30) during their winter or summer sale. They will blast you with emails on the various promotion and you can choose which timing and dates you want. For my January trip, I spent about SGD400.00 on 5 domestic flights inclusive of baggages and tax. This is consider cheap given that the usual price of a domestic ticket cost at least EUR 80 and above? There is no baggage allowance at all and you’ll be required to pay EUR15 for a 20kg baggage. The timing for these domestic flights that I booked are very good timing as well, it’s tough to get good timing during promotions because they will offer discounted tickets for weird timing. I will be flying mostly at about 11am and reaching the new destination at about 1pm. So in total, I spent about $1,508.00 in total for all my flights.
4. Look out for cheap train tickets
Train can be an alternative for traveling within country to different cities. I don’t feel comfortable going to oversea agent website and provide them with my credit card details. One website that I’ve used quite a bit is this: http://raileurope.com.sg. It’s a local agent where you can call them up any moment if you have any enquiries. They have discount on random occasion and we managed to get first class train ticket from Barcelona to and Madrid at 50% discount. For those traveling to Italy, Italia rail is a great way to travel and tickets are very cheap as well. Personally I think italiarail is much more comfortable than EuroStar even thou the latter’s ticket cost more.
That’s all for the first part of Europe tips! Next up I’m going to share on lodging in Europe. Interested to know how to get half price 4 star hotel room right in front of Eiffel Tower? Stay tuned.