Europe on a Budget

Taking a summer program in Europe is a dream that can come true with some careful planning

Airfares to Europe have increased about 10% since last summer, which was already one of the most expensive seasons in the past decade to fly to the continent. Fewer departures and higher fuel costs are to blame, experts say. But relatively reasonable rates are available for travelers willing to take the time to seek them out. With some research, you can save several hundred dollars on the price of a ticket. But discounts are hard to come by, so grab any deals under $1,000.

The good news is that the euro is about 5% weaker against the dollar than it was a year ago, so once you get there, prices will seem a little cheaper.

Here are some tips to save:

1. Travel in late summer
At the moment, it seems that flights from the U.S. to Europe are cheapest in August (the later, the better).

2. Be super-flexible
Unless there’s a specific reason why you have to fly on a certain day, be flexible on your travel dates. Use a flight search site such as Kayak or TripAdvisor Flights and select the “flexible travel dates” option. Often, you can save a few hundred dollars.

However, keep in mind the additional costs that an earlier departure or later return may incur, such as hotels and meals.

3. Fly on a weekday
Midweek flights are usually cheaper across the board. Aim for Tuesday or Wednesday departures and returns.

4. Fly to a gateway city
This is especially true if you’re planning to go to central or eastern Europe — flying to major western European hubs tends to be much cheaper, and then you can connect with flights on one of dozens of European discount airlines or use Europe’s amazing rail system.

London is one of the most affordable hubs in Europe, with plenty of cheap, no-frills airlines, such as easyJet and Ryanair, operating onward flights. You can also take the Eurostar directly to Paris and Brussels, from which you can pick up high-speed train connections across the continent.

5. Consider nearby departure airports
Consider other airports aside from the one closest to your home. Could you save a few hundred dollars by driving to Newark for your departure instead of flying out of JFK?

6. Sign up for special alerts
Track your desired routes through sites like or

7. Follow Twitter feeds
Try @airfarewatchdog, @dealsonairfare, @traveldeals, @farecomparedeal, and @myairdeals to name a few.

The operators of some Twitter feeds will even answer your specific travel questions, including suggesting routes and confirming whether you’ve really found a good deal.

8. Subsidized programs
Look out for government-subsidized deals, like Spain’s programs for U.S. and Canadian Spanish educators (

9. Grants
Every month and online, Language Magazine supplies details of study abroad grants in its Source section.

Specific Programs
Intercultural Student Experiences (ISE) offers affordable educational travel programs that immerse students in the language and culture of the destination and provide numerous and intentional opportunities for students to engage with native speakers. With destinations across Europe, Latin America, and China, ISE provides a multitude of itinerary options for teachers of Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin. Financial aid, early registration discounts, and other grants make ISE’s programs affordable and accessible for the majority of students.

Whether students are exploring world-class artwork at the Louvre, passing through history at the Brandenburg Gate, taking in views of the majestic Sagrada Familia, or gaining perspective at the Great Wall of China, students will marvel at the rich cultural heritage that’s unfolding before them. Every program is designed to put language first, and never is this more evident than in the family stay. Students experience authentic life with native speakers of the languages they’re learning. Through participating in the daily activities of their host families, students will learn what it means to be a citizen of the world, while stretching and expanding their language skills far beyond what they can learn in a classroom.

Accent Français is situated right in the city center of Montpellier, in the south of France, only a few steps away from the famous Place de la Comédie. The school is accredited with the French Quality Label of the Ministry and it offers French programs year-round, and seasonal courses like cooking in French, as well as cultural programs with activities and excursions.

The school is growing. In 2014, a whole new floor housing four classrooms, a terrace, a library, and a multimedia center will be added. All of this will be air conditioned for the warm summers in Montpellier, giving the campus the largest capacity of any school in the city, with a total of 23 classrooms, all equipped with TVs, computers, and free Wifi.

don Quijote, the pioneer in Spanish abroad (, has over 200 agreements with U.S. universities offering academic credits for study abroad. It has been offering immersion programs in more than 35 destinations across Spain and all over Latin America over the last 27 years. The key to its success lies in the fact that it was the first in identifying and understanding a Spanish learning need around the world by offering an option for every target: an international summer camp for the youngest (five to 18 years old with Spanish students), a semester abroad with academic credits for university students, and top-notch faculty-led programs.

Carlos Anadón, don Quijote CEO, explains the appeal: “The combination of the best learning experience, constant improvement, flexible courses, best facilities, affordable prices, and high quality standards have placed don Quijote in the first position in the Spanish-education field.”

Arranging a tour and traveling for free is also an option. With CHA Educational Tours (, you can earn a free trip by enrolling just six students (for fewer than six, there are also generous discounts) on a trip. Educators can even earn additional free trips by increasing group size or collect an unlimited stipend for every traveler not credited toward a free trip.

Family or faculty at your school can join you at 15% discount off of the base tour cost. And every time you take students on a CHA tour, you automatically collect CHA bonus points that can be saved and redeemed for free travel. Just multiply the number of travelers in your group by your tour length. First-time group leaders automatically receive 50 points. By recommending CHA to a colleague, you’ll receive 25% of points collected by the new teacher on their first trip.