In Europe’s Top Vacation Spots, There’s No Such Thing as an Offseason This Year


Mykonos in the winter? More travelers are opting to travel trans-Atlantic before summer.

Europe is top of mind for U.S. travelers this year, and they are making trips well ahead of high season, travel advisers say. Normally, trans-Atlantic trips to Europe pick up as weather warms in spring and run through the summer months.

Travelers are booking on both ends of the summer peak season, say airlines and hotel companies. Vacationers in early spring are taking advantage of expiring travel vouchers, cheaper hotel rates and the chance to work remotely in the first quarter before in-office policies change. If vacationing in Europe turns into a year-round affair, it will make it harder to find off-peak deals in 2023, says travel advisers.

Costs range greatly based on the destination, but the average flight from the U.S. to Europe in March costs $857, a 40% increase compared with 2019, according to data from the travel search-engine Kayak. The average flight for June is $1,284, a 27% increase compared with last year.

Demand for travel to Europe is increasing in the midst of rising concern over a potential recession and layoffs. Some travelers headed abroad this spring were priced out of summer trips, travel advisers say, adding that some are motivated by pandemic flight vouchers that will finally expire, and by a desire to avoid the summer heat and airport trouble that occurred last year at several European hubs.

On an earnings call earlier this month, Delta Air Lines President

Glen Hauenstein

said March is “getting to be a peak month these days” for trans-Atlantic travel this year.

“That leaves you really the nonholiday weeks in November and the nonholiday weeks in January and February as really your lull periods,” he said.

Airline executives said on recent earnings calls that they expect summer 2023 to be a record season. Delta, United Airlines and

JetBlue Airways

are adding new trans-Atlantic routes ahead of summer.

Travel to Europe from the U.S. has steadily grown since last year. Free of Covid-19 travel restrictions and eager to go on vacation, U.S. tourists flocked there in 2022. The typical summer travel season extended well into the fall months.

Many families traveling now are seeking more than just sightseeing, travel advisers say. Tina Messamore, owner of Latitudes Travel in Murfreesboro, Tenn., says her clients are asking about Europe trips that include cooking classes and educational tours.

“I have had more requests for Europe in the last 12 months than I have in 23 years,” she says. “I had the busiest year ever for Europe in 2022, and 2023 is starting out the same way.”


What plans are you making for spring travel? Join the conversation below.

She and other travel advisers recommend traveling during slower times, such as the fall, if possible.

So far, there are 23% more bookings from the U.S. to Europe for February compared with February 2022, according to Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes tickets sold by travel agencies. It is likely that travel to Europe in 2023 will exceed 2022 levels, says the company.

France, Italy and the United Kingdom are among top destinations for U.S. travelers this coming year, as they have been in the past, says Eduardo Santander, chief executive of the European Travel Commission.

Adam Morvitz, founder and chief executive of, a points and miles search aggregator and booking service, says Greece is among the most popular destinations in both winter and spring, let alone the peak summer period. Mr. Morvitz says his company has already booked as many points and miles redemptions for April trips to Greece as it typically does for June or July.

“It could be in the 60s, there could be a chance of rain and we’re still booking trips to Mykonos,” he says.

Greece is said to be among the most popular destinations in both winter and spring.


Milos Bicanski for The Wall Street Journal

Travelers using vouchers that will expire can get more value when pairing points redemptions for an offseason trip. Good redemption rates on nonstop flights to major European cities in business class are available in March, says Mr. Morvitz.

Hannah Gowans and her husband plan to travel to the U.K. this spring after finding a Cyber Monday deal for MileagePlus members on a nonstop United Airlines flight. They will fly from Los Angeles to London for 60,000 miles and $385 in taxes. Typically, she wouldn’t choose to travel in March, but there were limits on travel dates from the sale, and the trip seemed to be a good excuse for the 33-year-old ad tech professional and her husband to take a delayed honeymoon.

Ms. Gowans says her husband has never been to London, and she hasn’t been since 2014. They chose to add Edinburgh to the weeklong trip, and plan to visit a classic summer European city on a different trip.

“I can play tour guide and show him around, then we’ll go enjoy the quieter atmosphere of Edinburgh and enjoy some Scotch,” she says.

If You Are Going to Europe This Year
  • Set expectations for offseason travel. Some smaller hotels, restaurants and shops close for the winter, says Ms. Messamore. But she says there is still a lot to do between museums and other attractions.
  • Be flexible. Look to travel any time from late March through the end of October to find better availability, says Damian McCabe, chief executive of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Va.
  • Build in time. There will be delaysaccording to a report from Europe’s air-traffic manager, Eurocontrol. The report says it will be difficult to manage airspace issues as the war in Ukraine continues. If you plan to visit several cities by air, make sure you leave plenty of time to get to and from destinations, travel advisers say.

Write to Allison Pohle at

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