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Fly to a gateway city in Europe, then take a low-cost carrier

SmarterTravel

Everyone knows flights to Europe are expensive, particularly if you travel during the peak summer months. But, you might be able to snag a cheaper fare by traveling with one of the numerous low-fare carriers that fly within Europe.

Ryanair, the Ireland-based king of European low-fare carriers, consistently offers rock-bottom prices, and in some cases, “free” flights (though travelers are still responsible for taxes and fees). Depending on your final destination, you might choose to fly to London-area airports Luton or Stansted, Dublin or Shannon, Rome, or one of Ryanair’s 18 other focus cities.

Another popular carrier, easyJet, offers flights from Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted airports in the U.K.; and Berlin, Madrid, and more cities on the Continent. Other lines include bmibaby, Germanwings, and flyglobespan. WhichBudget.com can help narrow down options for flying within Europe.

Be aware of hidden costs and inconveniences that may be associated with these airlines’ cheap fares. For example, Ryanair charges around $12 per checked bag, something that will affect most travelers coming from the U.S. (who are likely to have a suitcase). Snacks and drinks are usually available for purchase onboard, and seats assignments are rare. Plus, you’ll have to leave plenty of time between flying to visit customs, retrieve your bags, and make your connection.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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