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The Difficulty of Finding Cheap Summer Fares to Europe

It’s that time of year again, when people are knee-deep into planning their summer trips. Despite the rising cost of airfare thanks to those pesky fuel surcharges, thousands of people will still head for Europe this year. It’s the kind of trip you plan for over the course of years, and for many it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even if you’ve got a little money set aside to splurge on your travels, however, it’s still nice to save money on your flight.

Finding cheap tickets to Europe can be challenging year-round, but it’s particularly difficult during the summer. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, for instance, you may be frustrated when searching for flights.

For reasons I’ve never heard explained adequately, it’s usually more expensive to fly directly to Italy than it is to fly to another European hub. There are times when this isn’t true, of course, but so often it’s easier to find cheap tickets to Paris than it is to find cheap tickets to Rome – nevermind that they’re both major European cities.

Now, if you’re planning more of a Grand Tour-style trip covering several countries in Europe, then the city you start in may be one thing where you’re able to be more flexible. When travel experts advise you to “be flexible” when you’re looking for flights, they’re usually referring to the day and time you’re looking at – but the destination is another opportunity for flexibility. Visiting the capitals of England, France, Spain, and Italy? Whether you arrive in Rome or London probably doesn’t matter much in that case, so if you’re having better luck finding deals to London than to Rome, then that’s how you determine where you start.

If, on the other hand, you’re only planning to visit Italy, then the lack of cheap fares directly to Italy is more annoying. Sure, you can probably find at least one restaurant serving traditional Roman food in London, but that’s not the same thing as eating said cuisine in Rome itself. In my experience, flights into Milan or even Venice are sometimes cheaper than flying right into Rome, so that’s one option to consider. Also, if you can pair one of those cheap flights to a different European city with a really cheap flight on one of those budget airlines that are so plentiful on the continent, you can fly to Italy from any of those other European hubs.

What are your favorite money-saving tips for flying to Europe during the summer?