The results are in — airfare is trending downward in 2016. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, plane tickets in January were 4 percent cheaper than the same time last year. And that's not all. An Expedia study shows that European flight prices declined the most in 2015 (23 percent to be exact), making these routes some of the best potential bargains in 2016. Where to go? Hopper predicts that flights to Paris will drop 20 percent; Milan, Athens and Frankfurt 18 percent; and Madrid 15 percent.
A stronger dollar
There's nothing better than knowing you're getting the most bang for your buck... literally. Today, one euro equates to only $1.08.08, down from $1.15 in 2015, and $1.40 in 2014.15 in 2015, and $1.15 in 2015, and $1.40 in 2014.40 in 2014. Just think of the possibilities: the stronger the dollar, the cheaper everything is in Europe, from hotels and restaurants to museums and shops (now's the time to buy that Italian leather tote you've been dreaming of!).
Discount airlines fly international
The U.S. is finally getting more transatlantic budget airlines. First came Condor, with seasonal routes to more than 10 American cities, then Norwegian touched down in 2014, bringing low-cost services from London's Gatwick Airport (and now Paris) to New York, LA and Fort Lauderdale. In 2015, Icelandic carrier WOW Air kicked off its U.S. debut with $99 one-way fares (or about $250 round-trip) from Boston/Baltimore to Paris/Amsterdam, and this summer, it will expand service to LA and SF.
Affordable-chic hotels explode across Europe
Gone are the days of bunk rooms, shared bathrooms and crappy morning coffee. There's a new breed of hip hostel/hotel that's redefining economy lodging. With nine outposts in some of Europe's hottest cities (plus Amsterdam, Rome and Stockholm to come in the next few months), the Generator is one of the fastest growing chains in the market. There's also the 25 Hours brand, Room Mate, Marriott's Moxy, set to expand across Europe in 2016, and Hilton's Canopy, which is opening its first European property in Reykjavik this summer. Expect forward-thinking design, buzzy rooftop bars, free bikes and more.
Budget airline seats define a new class
If you'd trade legroom for affordable fares, then you'll be thrilled about this new seating category. Delta launched the "no-frills" flying concept last year when it introduced its "basic economy" seats in select international markets. Think budget prices in exchange for less legroom, unassigned seats and non-refundable fares. United and American Airlines are quickly following suit by rolling out a similar "last class" option later this year.
Gas prices drop (in Europe, too!)
We know, the drop in domestic gas prices is old news. But, globally, the cost of oil is at an all-time low, and continues to plummet in 2016. In fact, prices have declined roughly 20 percent in Europe alone (both for diesel and gas). Translation: Grab that vespa and go!