How to Fly Successfully on Budget Airlines

How to Successfully Fly on Budget Airlines

Taking a budget airline flight can be very cost effective, but only if you can successfully avoid all the hidden fees and traps.  Navigating the regulations of budget airlines, such as Ryanair, Wizzair, and EasyJet, is similar to trying to understand the rules of the Federal Tax Code.  Here are a few tips to help you travel with ease and maximize the little space you have.

1)      Location, Location, Location.  Budget airlines can offer the crazy low prices they do for multiple reasons; one of these is by offering flights out of tiny airports that don’t get the traffic of the mainstream ones.  One example of this is The Paris/Beauvais airport which Ryanair regularly flies out of.  This airport is not really located in Paris, but in the neighboring city of Beauvais over an hour’s drive away from the heart of the city. Airports outside main cities require special travel arrangements and take more time.  In the Paris example, you should arrive at a bus stop to the airport over 3 hours before your flight at a cost of 15 Euro.  Don’t rule out these tiny airports right away, but remember to factor in the added cost of getting to them and the extra travel time to make sure the plane ticket is still a steal.

Map of the Paris-Beauvais airport in relation to Paris

2)      Always pre-print your boarding pass.  Some budget airlines may charge up to 60 Euro to print your boarding pass at the airport if you do not print it before hand.  Even worse, the ticket may not be available to print more than 24 hours before your flight and 4 hours or less before the flight.   Be sure to check the time restrictions to print off your ticket and research a place to print the ticket within that timeframe to avoid paying an extremely hefty fee.

3)      Choose your suitcase wisely. Budget airlines love to pick out travelers with baggage that is outside of the specified size to make them pay for breaking the luggage guidelines. Pack in a backpack or some form of bag that you carry on your person instead of a rolling bag.  Every time I witnessed someone get stopped by the “baggage police” (which happens very often), it was someone using a rolling suitcase.  They love to make everyone with a wheeling carry on try to fit it in the little metal cage that is the measurements of the restrictions.  Can’t get it in? Pay a large fee.  Our backpacks were usually larger than these rolling bags, but never got questioned.

Carrying a rolling bag is like carrying a giant target.

4 Easy Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Prices for flights and hotels can be daunting in themselves, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on every other expense.  Here are four ways to help you save money on your next vacation abroad!

-Budget airlines and travel websites

When I most recently traveled from Oklahoma City to Paris (France, not Texas), I didn’t want to pay $1000 so I found a website called studentuniverse.com – a website that caters to ANYONE (student, teacher, employee, etc) with a college e-mail.  I ended up paying $624 for a round-trip airfare.  Pretty amazing, right? Generally speaking, the longer you go, the cheaper it is, so keep that in mind. But if you want to take a short trip within your trip, check out budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet.  Some flights can cost as little as TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS, such as the one I took from Nice, France to Marrakesh, Morocco.  Not even their asinine baggage policies can put a damper on that price.

-Unconventional lodging

There are so many different ways around pricey conventional hotels.  For the daring traveler, try couchsurfing.com , a website that pairs you up with a local who hosts people from different parts of the world (normally these people are also globetrotters who love to meet people from different cultures . The idea is that this is a reciprocal exchange, meaning you need to host some people too and tell them the best spots in your hometown, so keep that in mind beforehand.  Also, if you’re traveling in a large group, look into renting out someone’s apartment.  In Amsterdam, seven of us rented a chic little apartment in a great location with more than enough space that ended up costing everyone less that $30 Euros a night.  We had free reign to do what we wanted, when we wanted, and in style.

-Internet booking

This might sound like a given, but when you add up the amount of attractions paid for during a trip, each dollar makes a difference.  Almost all attractions have discounts for booking online, such as the London Eye.  If you do this enough, you will definitely see a difference in your bank account.  Also, look for deals online such as Livingsocial- most people don’t think about it, but these deals are offered abroad too!

-Free Tours

Finally, the culmination of the of free – free tours!  Most people have the misconceived notion that these are not of the same quality as paid tours, but that’s entirely not true.  These guides make their living off tips and it shows in their presentation.  With the best historical anecdotes, the funniest personal accounts, and lots of information, free tours are among the favorite for most travelers. Plus, you can tip based on how you think they did.  It’s  a win-win situation for all.

Travel smart my friends.