Visiting Eastern Europe is an enjoyable step back in time and a top travel destination. Here’s the scoop on what you need to consider when trying to get there.
Getting To and Around Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe has been open to travel for roughly 15 years following the fall of the Soviet Union. Much to the delight of travelers, Eastern Europe has proven to be an incredibly beautiful and charming slice of old world Europe. From Prague to Budapest and everywhere in between, Eastern Europe offers much to be admired and prices are cheap.
Catching a plain to the far east of Europe isn’t particularly difficult, but it really depends on the exact destination you are trying to reach. Most countries are reached by first stopping in Western Europe, but direct flights can be found depending on your departure location.
The high season is summer, which means prices can be a big concern if you have a tight budget. This may not bother you. If it does, the key to flying on the cheap is to shop across all the online travel sites. They offer dramatically different prices, even for the same flight! Determine a general range of dates you want to leave and come back. Then start hunting. Flights leaving after midnight can be significantly cheaper than flights during normal hours. Since you will be sleeping anyway, it makes sense to save some bucks.
There are two other pricing options that can save you a bundle on high season rates. Consolidators purchase bundles of open seats from airlines for flights that aren’t traditionally full. You can save significant money, sometimes as much as fifty percent, buy purchasing from consolidators. The biggest savings occur when you buy from them at the last moment, but you risk all of the seats being sold.
If you are flying during the high season, you can also get a steal by booking a seat on a chartered flight. Chartered flights are small airlines that typically only fly during the high season. They tend to be a bit amateurish, but are definitely cheap. I’ve paid as low as $450 for a round trip booking to Budapest when an online booking would have run me over $900. If you go charter, try to upgrade to first class while booking in. For $75, I was able to do so on a flight from Paris to Los Angeles. It was the best $75 I ever spent!
Flying domestic in Eastern Europe is not for the faint of heart. The planes are a bit old and, well, they aren’t always known for reliability. Most people simply hop on a train. If you must fly domestic, find a local resident to buy the ticket for you. Prices go up significantly when foreigners walk in the door, as much as triple the normal price.
Eastern Europe receives top marks as a travel destination. After 15 years of freedom, jumping a plain to the location of your choice shouldn’t be any more difficult than any other location.