Europe on the cheap

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Meecrob, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Meecrob macrumors member

    Meecrob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New England
    #1
    So, I am taking my savings and going to europe, probably spain, ASAP (probably as soon as the school year ends). I'm finishing my freshman year of college. Has anyone has any experiences (good or bad) with a cheap flight to europe? I've been looking around with kayak.com and Zoom airlines, and everything is in the $500-$600 range. Is this the best i'm going to get? The flight itself is probably going to be the most expensive part of the trip, so the cheaper the flight, the longer I can stay.

    A couple things:

    -I will probably be traveling alone. Not that I don't have friends who would come with me, but going solo gives me the kind of ultimate freedom that I'm looking for.
    -London is the cheapest city to fly to. Is it feasible to fly there and then go overland to Barcelona?
    -I know the dollar sucks right now so europe might not be the best choice to go and be a bum, but its something I've wanted to do for a long time.

    Thanks for any input/experiences.
     
  2. juanm macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    Fury 161
    #2
    About the flight, I don't know. About everything else, if you haven't signed in yet, you're gonna love me:

    www.couchsurfing.com
     
  3. Meecrob thread starter macrumors member

    Meecrob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New England
    #3
    Wow that's a cool site - have you used it yourself?
     
  4. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus

    xUKHCx

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Location:
    The Kop
    #4
    You should look into InterRail passes for traveling around Europe.

    One of my friends used this site for traveling and said it was brilliant. I am thinking about doing something similar either this year or the next.
     
  5. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #5
    Flying within Europe is much cheaper than flying to Europe (obviously), so you might be able to save a bit of money flying to London and then hopping a flight from there to Spain. My girlfriend lives in London and flies to Milan quite often, and she said she's gotten fares as low as 99¢! :eek: Gotta love government subsidised airlines...
    Anyway, United has pretty good fares to London right now to celebrate their new Denver to London nonstop service (the lower fares are good from other cities too), but if I remember right tickets have to be purchased by March 26th to fall within this promotion.
     
  6. steveza macrumors 68000

    steveza

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Going overland to Barcelona isn't really a good choice - it's about 1000 miles by road/rail - I've driven it and it wasn't that great. Better to get a cheap flight from whichever London airport you fly into. Getting between the airports can be tricky as they are quite far apart and the traffic can be very very bad.

    You get better deals if you don't fly over weekends. Have a look at www.skyscanner.net for the best deals in Europe. They have whole month searches to help you get the best prices.
     
  7. Meecrob thread starter macrumors member

    Meecrob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    Which airline did your girlfriend use?
     
  8. steveza macrumors 68000

    steveza

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    You still have to add tax onto those prices so it will be about £30/$60 for the cheapest flights - expect to pay about £50 to £100 for most European flights from the UK.
     
  9. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #10
    Good question. I'll ask her and get back to you.
     
  10. juanm macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    Fury 161
    #11
    Yes, it is GREAT.

    So far, I've hosted 2 girls (Maine), 4 Latvians, 1 Australian (Sydney), 1 Indian, 1 Australian (Sydney), 2 Germans (Köln), 1 Australian (Tasmania) and his Lithuanian girlfriend, 2 Australians (Melbourne), 1 Norwegian, 1 German (Berlin) and 1 Portuguese.

    I've couchsurfed in New York, and plan to do it extensively in Australia.

    They organize meetings and hikes from time to time. It would be a good chance to meet other couchsurfers from your area. The average couchsurfer is around 25 years old, university educated, and very nice! :p

    It works like ebay, with feedback. If you plan to use it on your trip (it would be dumb not to do it), consider getting verified while you're still in the US. Also, fill your profile, with pictures, and everything. Once you've logged in, if you're curious, you can have a look at my profile (couchsearch->juan_mlm). Create your profile with your name as a user name, not meecrob, or anything like that (unless Meecrob is your real name, in this case, I'm sorry)

    If you reserve in advance, you can get very cheap flights from London to Barna with Ryanair. Train will be much more expensive than any low cost airline. Avoid it for long distances.
     
  11. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    Ok, she told me RyanAir and EasyJet.
     
  12. Luis macrumors 65816

    Luis

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #13
    Easy Jet rules. Worked great for us.
     
  13. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    #14
    Ditto on Skyscanner. Make sure you click on their links to the actual airlines as sometimes their prices will be off.

    And from the UK, you'll be hit with the pound, which is worse than the Euro. If you're not going to fly directly to spain I recommend flying directly into the EU. Also I absolutely hate flying via London. Their security is a pain in the neck and even if you're not staying and just flying through. Besides Heathrow is an embarrassment of an airport, in my opinion.

    Other cheap airlines include TuiFly and Germanwings.

    Another lesser-known secret is to fly with major airlines - if you book in advance - and browse the US version of the website. For example, last week I flew from Munich, Germany to Verona, Italy and back for a total of 70€ or about $110. The prices were higher on the German version of the website, I think because EU folks have to pay more taxes than maybe tourists. Anyway, I still have a US address so I book all my flights using that info with Lufthansa. A train ticket just one way costs over 70€!

    This also works with Air France, as a friend just visited from New York and he flew via Charles de Gaulle and bought directly from Air France's US site for cheaper than the prices quoted by Kayak and Orbitz, although he bought only 1 week in advanced.

    I really recommend flying directly into Spain (and $500-$600 is a good deal) or Charles de Gaulle. It's a gorgeous airport and less of a hassle compared to London's.
     
  14. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    #15
    Just saw you're in New England, so you may be flying out of Logan, yeah? Just fyi, American airlines fly from lame terminal C. You go through security and there's absolutely nothing to do and the area where your family has to say goodbye to you is sad.

    Air France, Lufthansa, etc, fly through E which is modern and nice.

    Oh yeah, forgot another airline, Emirates. Heard amazing things about them. Luxurious was the word actually that my friend used.
     
  15. steveza macrumors 68000

    steveza

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    Emirates is a fantastic airline and along with Singapore Air probably 2 of the best airlines. Connecting through Dubai is a pleasure too - not sure what route they use from the US to Europe though.
     
  16. lofight macrumors 68000

    lofight

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    #17
    I've heard about that on a Belgian TV programme called "De laatste show". Looks very interesting!
     
  17. djellison macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    Pasadena CA
    #18
    Easyjet and Ryanair are great - but don't fall for their 'priority boarding' nonsense - it doesn't work.

    Doug
     
  18. juicedus macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Location:
    in a van down by the river
    #19
    Since you're still a student, try this. I used this right after I graduated. I signed up for an account and purchased the ticket before graduation and got a great deal on my ticket.

    http://www.studentuniverse.com/
     
  19. Meecrob thread starter macrumors member

    Meecrob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New England
    #20
    I've discovered that Air Canada can get me to London for $519, and then I can use a fifty dollar Ryanair flight to get to Barcelona... this seems like probably the best option?
    Air Canada lands in Heathrow and Ryanair flies out of Luton. I figure that I can either get a same day flight and use the coach service, or else couch-surf for a night in either London or Luton before continuing to Spain, which could be fun.
     
  20. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #21
    $519 is a pretty good deal. You might also look at Virgin.

    I highly recommend easyjet. Train travel in Europe is great but very expensive.
     
  21. juanm macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    Fury 161
    #22
    It should work out ok, but remember that London is one of the most sought after cities to couchsurf in. When I went to NY with CS (short for couchsurfing) I only had a couple of positive answers out of maybe 25 requests I sent, so make surf you ask in advance. Also, a good way to search for potential hosts is "% of requests replied" (for instance, I'm at around 85%) or "last login". Recent members will probably want to build some feedback so they'll be more prone to accept your request. The key is to make a good first impression, be nice thereafter, and if there's any change in your plans, let them know.

    For instance, this is a good request I received one month before the arrival date:

    "Holly" and her friend ended up sleeping three or four nights at home, and are right now in Florence, Italy.

    P.S: Jim, if you read this, I hope you don't mind I changed your name :p
     
  22. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    #23
    My friend flew NYC to Hamburg.

    Make sure you have LOTS of time in between then. If your flight is late, Ryanair won't wait for you and because you're booking with 2 diff. airlines, you might get screwed into paying your own way to Spain then. Also, factor in the cost of traveling from one airport to another (in British pounds) - esp. if you stay overnight - and in my opinion, it's a hassle.

    I know people who've missed flights that way and it's a nightmare. It's a risk you should be aware of.
     

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