Planning Dream Trip to Europe

Q. My dream trip to Europe may become a reality next year. We are very flexible with dates. When is the cheapest time to fly to England and what is the best way to get good plane fares throughout Europe if we country-hop?

A. Economy class fares to Europe generally start to go down after mid August, and continue downward from there until mid December. They are also cheaper from just after the New Year to March 31. Dublin and Shannon are typically the cheapest European destinations, and they are good places to land since Ryanair offers onward flights at rock-bottom prices to many European destinations. Just be careful if you check a bag on Ryanair, because their bag fees (especially for bags weighing over 15 kilograms (about 22 pounds) are pretty outrageous (20 Euros per kilogram). They also charge a 2 percent fee for credit card payments and many other fees. Other relatively less expensive entry points, lately, have been Berlin and Istanbul. You can sometimes find fare deals for peak summer travel that are about the same as off-peak, but the routings will involve long stopovers or inconvenient flight times. I suggest signing up for airfare alerts to find hidden deals, such as a fare I recently found from Washington to Manchester, UK for $800 round-trip including tax on SAS for July travel. Business class fares, in contrast, are cheapest for peak summer travel (often half price or less). British Airways has an annual business class fare sale (sign up for their email alerts) as do other airlines.

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