Today I’m going to talk about the best part of being an expat… the ability to travel! While we were living in Scotland, we tried to take as many weekend trips as possible and found that we were able to stretch our budget if we planned ahead and compared discount airlines. Here are a few money-saving tips we learned along the way while traveling on easyJet, Jet2.com and Ryanair.
5 tips for traveling on budget European airlines:
1. PRINT BOARDING PASS BEFORE GOING TO THE AIRPORT
While easyJet won’t hit you with a fee for printing them at the airport, Ryanair and Jet2.com will and it won’t be cheap. Jet2.com has a fee of around 17.50 GBP or 23 EUR, while Ryanair will charge 70 GBP/EUR. That charge alone could sky rocket the price of your plane ticket. Not only will you save money by printing your pass at home, you’ll also save yourself the hassle of waiting in any lines before security (assuming you’re not checking luggage).
2. REMEMBER THAT ONLY ONE CARRY-ON IS ALLOWED
This rule always frustrated me because I like to travel with a backpack and a purse. But you’re only allowed one carry-on, period. I made sure to leave room in my backpack for my purse and/or camera bag when it was time to board the plane… or I hid my purse under my coat. Shhh!
Another situation we encountered was the bag size test. EasyJet and Jet2.com specify a pretty standard size while Ryanair shaves a few cm off because, well — they suck. They also happen to be the airline that is the strictest at checking the size off passengers’ carry-on luggage. On a Ryanair flight out of Brussels they had everyone check the size of their bags. And if your bag didn’t fit into the little metal box? A fee.
3. IF YOU PLAN ON CHECKING A BAG, PRE-BOOK ON THE AIRLINE’S WEBSITE
Failure to do so will result in you paying more for your checked bag, especially on Ryanair. EasyJet has a straight forward price for one bag while Ryanair takes into account season (WTF?) and bag weight. Jet2.com doesn’t publish set rates, as they vary by route, but does say booking online provides some savings. As you can probably guess, if you go over the weight limit you’ll end up paying more. This is why we used backpacks.
4. MOST DISCOUNT AIRLINES USE AIRPORTS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF MAJOR CITIES
This is especially true with Ryanair, and sometimes these secondary airports won’t be connected to public transportation systems which provide a cheap ride to the city center. The secondary airports will often have a bus service to the city center, but they’re generally not cheap (and the ride could take hours). Make sure to take this into account when comparing flights.
5. REFRESHMENTS AND SNACKS ARE NOT FREE… BRING YOUR OWN
Not nearly as significant as the other points but worth noting. The onboard prices aren’t that unreasonable, but you can save some money by bringing snacks and buying a drink once you’re past security.
As you can see, Ryanair has the steepest fees. However, it’s also worth noting that they also have the cheapest fare, on average, from our experiences. This is why it’s important to research and plan ahead before any vacation.
Next time you’re thinking about booking a flight on a European budget airline, keep this list in mind. Don’t allow your discounted fare to turn into a premium one!
Filed Under: Expat, Travel