For those whose wanderlust doesn’t quite match their income, flying to destinations with budget airlines can be a compromise to get to those destinations. Although the fares may be cheaper, there are some other ‘prices to pay’ and here are some tips to make your experience a bit more pleasurable.
Hand luggage can quickly add pounds to your booking. Depending on where you are travelling to and for how long, hand luggage only can be a sensible option. Do I really need 21 bikinis for three days? Some airlines will only permit one piece of hand luggage, so you cannot even take a small bag in addition. Some others will permit a small bag. Always check on the airlines website before you travel as there are always rumours and changes to these policies.
I have a small travel pouch or purse that contains all the things I need for my flight. This would be money, passport, iPad/Kindle, headphones and ear plugs as a minimum and any additional travel documents that may be required, such as landing cards or visas. I am a pretty antisocial flyer and would much rather switch off in my own little bubble than spend the flight chatting with my travel companions, hence the entertainment and earplugs! I would take an eye-mask for a night flight as well.
When taking hand luggage only, if you take a trolley case (you know the little ones with wheels) be prepared that they may request or require you to put this in the hold due to lack of available space in the overhead cabins. Always come prepared with a padlock in the event that the case does make it to the hold, and don’t forget to take what you need out for the flight out before you hand it over. If you take a rucksack or backpack, you are far less likely to be requested to put your bag in the hold, as it is much softer and prone to damage in the hold. In my experience I have yet been asked to put my backpack in the hold, but it is not a guarantee.
When travelling I will always take a water bottle, preferably a non-plastic one. I take a flask type bottle with me, it can be emptied before customs, so it can pass through no problems and it can be refilled at any free water fountains air side, or on the airplane. Staying hydrated during flying is crucial to help with jet lag and just feeling more alert and awake after all the recycled air. My bottle keeps water cold for up to 12 hours and can be refilled during your visit without any additional plastic waste (yay environment!). A lot of European cities have public drinking fountains to utilise.
Most budget airlines now allocate seats (thankfully!) so you can avoid the crush at the gate (well apart from rush to get your bag in the overhead locker above your seat). Some airlines will try to put all the seats on your booking together where possible, others will purposefully allocate your seats apart to entice customers to pay for seats together. As a pretty antisocial flyer I am happy to sit anywhere, but my sister is not a great flyer, so I will always make sure that we are sitting together. It is down to preference and duration of flight. My husband is quite a big lad (rugby player build) and if we are flying for longer than 2-3 hours I will book seats with extra legroom so that he is not too cramped in.
Although not limited to budget airlines, I am always cold, and I will get cold on a plane. I will take a scarf/wrap/shawl just in case and if I am not wearing proper shoes (like boots or trainers and wearing flip flops or sandals) I will take socks for my feet getting cold.
Cheap flights are still a great way to travel, and they may have their quirks and drawbacks, any which way that I can travel more is a bonus!