Planning for Europe in Summer 2018

Q. We are planning ahead for a trip to four major European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Rome), leaving in late June and returning in late July.

We have yet to decide if we will start the trip in Paris or start in Rome, or some other configuration, whatever works out to be the most inexpensive option. Which days are cheapest to fly abroad?

And should we book one way tickets or can one get a round trip to one city and then fly home from a different city? We are in our seventies and also would like to book 3-4 star hotel rooms. Is it possible to book from the rail stations as I did in my younger days? This would allow us to stay longer if we have more to do and perhaps even skip a city. Wondering if the Eurail pass is the way to go or just get train tickets when we need them.

A. You should probably book an “open jaw” round-trip ticket rather than two one-ways. It doesn’t much matter what arrival and departure cities you choose since the fares will be similar, but typically flying Monday to Thursday will be cheaper than weekend travel. As for hotels, booking on the fly may be difficult in summer, depending on the city. You can always check Hotelwatchdog as you go, of course! Seniors can often get discounted rail tickets in Europe and I would just buy point-to-point rail fares since you won’t be taking very many train trips during your stay. However, the train from either Paris or Amsterdam to either Venice or Rome can take quite a while. Paris to Rome can take 11 hours, Paris to Venice 13 hours, and Amsterdam to Venice 18-19 hours, so you might consider flying unless you’re die-hard rail fans.

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