Most of the longer trips start with buying plane tickets. But not everyone enjoys flying so much. Of course we could go on a road trips more often. Doing a few hundred kilometres with car and losing a few days of holidays before you even arrive at the wanted destination, can be a problem. Don’t get me wrong. I love road trips. We did one really long trip across Balkan a few years ago. We packed all we needed in the back of the car and slept in a tent. We were having fun for around 10 days and covered distance that could be done in 3 and a half days, without sightseeing.
Sadly, we very often have to compromise. Our vacation days and founds are limited, so we save the time with flying. I can say we became quite an experienced flyers.
How to fly cheaper?
Flying around Europe can be really cheap. Most low budget airlines have discount clubs or newsletters, where they tell you about special offers. If you can start in the middle of the week, tickets will usually be cheaper. Weekends and holidays are usually the most expensive. We follow a few Slovenian sites, which find discounts and great deals on tickets. For long distance flying, collecting air miles can be great. Is your credit card connected to your frequent flier account? For more cheap tickets hacks for all world check out Thrifty Nomads.
Check the luggage requirements before you start packing. Budget airlines have special ideas about sizes and some allow extra small bags for free. Put all your liquids in mini containers and in a transparent bag. I always put them on top of everything else, so I can quickly pull them out for security check. If you only bring carry-on luggage, there shouldn’t be any big bottles packed in there. You also have to show all your electronics, so they should be in an easy to reach place. Don’t wear any metallic objects on you and going through the check will be like walking in a park.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Budget airlines don’t feed you. And they usually take away all your drinks on security check. But drinking enough fluids during a flight can save you from landing with a headache. We always bring some water with use and drink it before going to the line for security. You can bring your small plastic water bottle and refill it on the first toilet after security check. Most airports in Europe have drinkable tap water. On our last trip to Spain we tested the one in Valencia. It was drinkable but disgusting, so we bought bottled water from the vending machine. It was still cheaper than the one on the plane.
Don’t arrive hungry and cranky
You can bring small sandwich or some snacks on a plane. But we usually try to wait until the destination and have some local specialities there. But sometimes you land in totally different time zone on a holiday and it is in the middle of the night so all shops are closed. For unplanned delays we pack something small like granola bars. We sometimes get a small snack on the airports. I like paninis in Italy and French fries with sauce Andalouse in Brussels. I don’t mind being less on a budget for something I can’t really get at home.
Budget airlines have different baggage restrictions. Most have small space for a bag or small backpack under a seat in front of you. If you are small like me, that is perfect. While most of the passengers have to stand in line on the gates long before boarding and later fight for the overhead lockers, we spend that time checking out the shops on the airport or peacefully reading a book on a kindle. After most of the passengers are on the plane already, we slowly go through the gate and push our backpacks under the sit in front of us. You can do that on EasyJet, RyanAir or WizzAir. If you are very tall or heavy person and you need all the space you can get, this might not be the best idea for you. Here are some other packing ideas from Independent traveler.
Use the toilet
Many people forget there are toilets on the aeroplanes. They are very small and basic, but a great way to refresh before landing. And taking a small walk through the plane during a flight will help with avoiding jet leg. If it is a longer flight, you will probably have time to also brush your teeth and fix your hair before landing. If not, there is another toilet before the passport check line. Because it is sometimes a very long line.
Avoid ear pains
Some people can fly without even noticing changes in the air pressure. Some of us are not so lucky. After a few flights, when I landed with tears in my eyes, I learned a few things. Licking some small sweet like a jelly bean or a mint can help with equalizing pressure in your ears while the plane is taking off. If you are flying with cold or allergy it can be very painful. If you can’t avoid it, don’t do it. If you can’t, check with your doctor. Taking the right meds before flight can help a lot. If you can’t breathe normally on solid ground, it will only get worse in the air. If you are normally healthy and it still hurts while the plane is landing and taking off, there is help for us too. Yawn and swallow frequently during the flight and ignore weird looks from other passengers. Suck on a sweet and get yourself a pair of travel ear plugs. They will equalize even when you are not able to.
First flight can be stressful, but after a while it becomes a lot like a riding a bus.