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Buying a One Way ticket

Hello! I am looking to travel through Europe this summer. I plan to buy a one way ticket to London. I was told by a lovely English woman to wait and buy my return flight when I am in Europe, because it will be cheaper. Can anyone let me know if this is true? Should I wait to buy my return ticket in Europe or should I buy it beforehand? Thank you for your help.

Posted by
16883 posts

If you're flying from North America, then two one-way tickets are almost always much more expensive than a roundtrip or open-jaw (multi-city) plane ticket. A multi-city ticket is likely to make most sense for you, such as into London and home from Rome, or similar split. Just for shorter connections within Europe, one-way tickets can be cheap on budget airlines. See also the topics under Flying at https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation.

Also, showing up in Britain without a departure ticket could mean that the immigration official won't admit you into the country! They want some indication that you don't intend to overstay the visit time allowed to tourists. See also https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/travel-documents.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you, Laura! This is helpful. This will be my first time traveling to Europe, so there is a lot to become knowledgable about : )

Posted by
21671 posts

Check it for yourself. It took me all of three minutes. Used June 2 to Aug 17th

One way - Den to London -- $1400/1500 depending on schedule
RT Den/London -- $1150
Into London, home from Paris -- $1300

So much for the idea of one ways being cheaper. Careful who you listen to for advice without checking it out.

PS You are correct. There is a lot to learn. Might read Steves' Europe Through the Backdoor. That would be a very good starter for you since it is already April.

Posted by
4642 posts

It is the case that round trip tickets from Europe to the USA are so much cheaper than the other way around, but that doesn't help you.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you. I'm reading that book now. It's very informative. Have you been to Europe before? This is my plan London to Paris to Amsterdam to Germany (somewhere along the Rhine) to Interlaken, Switzerland to Venice, Cinique Terre to Rome then Home.

Posted by
21671 posts

Have we been to Europe? Of course, most of the people on this site have multi trips. We have spent nearly a year in Europe over the past 20+ years. Your plan looks alright. But it is hard to evaluate without knowing your exact dates of travel. Your cheapest ticket will be open jaw into London and home from Rome. But you need to get moving with your plans. You have lots of options but you need to do some checking. It might make more sense to fly into Amsterdam and home from Rome or elsewhere. You have to do your homework. I know, I know - that is a bad word.

Posted by
9 posts

This is the same topic, but a different question...I have a one-way on Aer Lingus to Dublin, and we are going to end up in London, so can I add the return trip to this already-purchased ticket or do I have to get a new one? All I can find on 30 May is a change planes in Dublin flight to SFO. I realize I messed up not booking together, but any ideas how to fix it?

Posted by
2906 posts

First, Tom, you need to start a new thread with your new question. You will get more answers.

This is addressed to both Austin (the original poster) and Tom; consider booking some time with the Rick Steves trip consultation department. It is really worth a few dollars to get assistance in planning your trip, so you don't have a lot of mistakes happening. They can answer all your questions. Take a look at this page. You must call and book an appointment time and date. Know what your questions are before your appointment comes up. Write out your itinerary for your trip, and have a page of questions written out, so when you call on the appointed date, you can write down answers. Here's the Trip Consulting page:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-help/plan-your-trip-with-our-expert-consultants

As an alternative, if you find the planning getting frustrating, you may want to give a call to Elizabeth Holmes Travel Agency. They are highly recommended by the Rick Steves company, and are listed in the credits of many of Rick's PBS Travel Programs as having made the travel arrangements for Rick and his film crew. Elizabeth Holmes Travel, 5700 6th Ave S #100, Seattle, WA--Phone (206) 547-8361 or (800) 588-8361. www.elizabethholmes.com/

Also take a look at the Rick Steves Tours page, here on this website, and see if any of the tours--including "My Way" unescorted tours--suit your needs.

Austin, a lot of people who are going to Europe for the first time (or second or third time) find that a RS tour gives them the structure they need. No more struggling with what to see, where should I go, how do I buy train tickets, etc. Many people take a tour first, and then continue around Europe for several weeks on their own, with the tour having given them confidence, especially if this is their first trip. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
21 posts

I've booked my flight into London and I am flying home from Rome. I have a fairly rough itinerary put together so far. I know in England I want to see London and Stone Henge. I have a friend there who I know will let me stay with him, but I've been looking at AirBNB for accommodations. Next it's to Paris via Eurostar. I want to see Versailles and attractions in Paris (i.e Louvre and Eiffel Tower). Next it's a train to Amsterdam with a stop to check out Belgium on the way. I have no real plans to see anything in Amsterdam, but the overall loose regulations in the city makes it seem like a city worth visiting. Not to mention how beautiful it is in pictures. Then to Germany. Here I have absolutely no idea where I will go, as of yet. The romantic rhine seems beautiful to do. Checking out small villages along the Rhine seems pleasant. Next it's Switzerland. Interlaken and the Alps. Hiking and nature. Not really here for the partying. Then off to Italy where I'm debating on whether it would be worth shooting over to Venice. Or just make my way down to Milan and Cinique Terre and finally Rome. Any thoughts? Again, this will be my first time in Europe and I know very little.

Posted by
2906 posts

Austin, I think you will get a lot more answers if you "copy & paste" your above paragraph with your itinerary, and start a new thread under "General Europe", since the conversation now covers a lot more than England.

Posted by
3430 posts

You might want to avail yourself of some in person information here in New York - This Saturday April 9 , One PM at Panera's - 452 5th Avenue one block south of the NY Public Library , Rick monthly travel group get together . Nice bunch of skilled people who are always happy to help . Hope to see you there !

Posted by
21 posts

Awesome Steve! I may be able to check that out. Is this a meetup group? When would be the next meet up after Saturday?

Posted by
3430 posts

Generally , the second Saturday each month . Also , I understand that you are just starting out , but you might want to consider taking a chain saw to your proposed itinerary . One rule of thumb is that each time you change location you are likely to lose one - half to one full day in travel time . Trying to fit in too many locations really eats in to the time you will have to actually see things .

Posted by
21 posts

Yeah, that's been the general consensus amongst everyone in this forum. I really thought it was all doable, but seeing how it's my first time in Europe maybe I'd be better served to cut it down. I'm thinking of bailing on either France or Amsterdam. Most important to me is Switzerland. So, these are my thoughts London to Amsterdam to Germany to Switzerland and Italy. Or London, Paris, Switzerland, and Italy. Thoughts?

Posted by
3430 posts

Well , getting better , but take to heart what Frank told you , there is a lot to learn . London , Paris , Switzerland , and Italy might work , but there is still a great deal of fine tuning ahead , Where in Switzerland and Italy ? , Consider the cost of surface transportation between locations . Trains are the likely mode of travel and the sooner you firm your plans , the sooner you can buy train tickets at greatly reduced prices . Go here and begin to learn about European rail travel - http://www.seat61.com/ . Again , as Frank said , it's already April , so you really need to shake a leg .

Posted by
21 posts

I may be totally oblivious, so forgive me if I sound ignorant, but what is the rush for? Is it not easy to book things while I'm there? I got my majors covered, flight in and out. All I need to do now is set my itinerary in stone and decide on whether I get a Eurail pass or not. I'm alternating between Airbnb's, B&B's and Hostels. Is there something that I'm unaware of as far as making plans to travel.

Posted by
3591 posts

Just a note to contradict One way advice given above. Some transatlantic airlines only sell one ways (Icelandair, Condor, Norwegian) so there is no advantage on these airlines to buying a return ticket.

Posted by
4642 posts

Look out for the extras on some of those though which can make them dearer than a return on other carriers.

Posted by
9363 posts

Austin, here is an example of "why the rush":

High speed train Barcelona-Madrid, walk up price - 130 euro

Same train booked 60 days ahead - 39 euro

If you are ok with paying triple, be my guest, but most of us would rather spend the money in more fun ways. You won't find discounts like that on every train everywhere, but it's often enough to check it out. Eurail passes are almost never a good deal, and often require reservations (at additional cost) anyway.

Posted by
533 posts

And a more immediately relevant example, Eurostar from London to Paris:

Booking today for travel on Thursday, August 4th (a random summer date I picked), you'll pay $87 for most trains. The last train of the day still has a few tickets left in the lowest price bracket, which is $70.

Booking today for travel tomorrow, the cheapest available ticket is $227.

Note that the Eurail pass does not get you free travel on the Eurostar. You can use the pass to get a "discounted" fare - but that passholder fare is still more (around $130, I think) than most advance-purchase tickets.

Posted by
9363 posts

Look for the blue Rick Steves guidebooks on the table.

Posted by
3430 posts

Austin found us , the guidebook was the giveaway ! Thanks , Nancy !