Yes, You Can Afford to Go to Europe This Year

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Winter season historically begins mid to late-October and ends in mid to late-March. Note that the Christmas holidays may be a little pricier -- but not like summer airfare.

And now we come to spring and fall travel, which many contend are the best European seasons of all. Autumn is actually a little cheaper, but some families prefer the former when the kids are off on Spring Break (and if you're really lucky, their school's Spring Break may actually fall in the cheap winter season).

Still have your heart set on summer travel? Well, deals do crop up from time to time, which is why you should always sign up for airfare alerts.

Something else you can do: fly to the cheapest European city from your home airport and use it as a gateway, then move around the continent on one of Europe's really cheap discount carriers.

A word of caution, though: some of those cheapie airlines have extremely restrictive bag polices that could cost you a scary amount in baggage fees if you're not careful.

Or do what I did on my last European jaunt: I spent 10 days in Italy, and all I took was a single carryon. Okay, so no one mistook me for a Milan runway model, but I was comfortably and properly attired at all times. My bag fees? $0.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.

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