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Ninja tips for squeezing THE MOST out of a budget airline flight
I’m not a fan of airlines that nickel and dime you for every little single thing (think: drink, snack, picking your seat, 3″ more legroom, and even your carry on.)
But, you can find some killer deals on many sites.
The catch? At those prices, you may have to pack ULTRA light because it’s an extra $40-$50+ each way for a carry-on bag.
(The first checked bag is usually cheaper, so if you must bring a lot of stuff, check it instead of carrying it on).
Just remember you do get a free “personal item.”
So here’s what I’ve done and you can too:
• First, find flights by being signed up to each airline companies email list and keep an eye on their sales.
They tend to be frequent and sometimes they have high promo codes.
• Once you find the flight you want, get it.
But do NOT sign up for any of their extras.
I never choose a seat (& in case you’re wondering- I do this even if I’m traveling with my children. In my experience, flight employees will always keep family seats together.
I bring my own snacks and water or just go without. (Okay let’s be serious LOL. It’s me… I ALWAYS have snacks)
• Use a comfortable backpack
It should fit all the way under the seat in front of you, vertically or horizontally.
• Travel-sized everything!
Bring a comb instead of a brush.
A little pill bag with some tooth powder in it instead of a tube of toothpaste.
Just a small amount of the necessary toiletries in travel-sized containers, which can either be refilled at the destination or just buy a little bit of stuff as needed.
It’s cheaper to buy $5-$10 worth of toiletries, or even a clothing item or two at the destination if you have to, than to pay $100 or more round trip to bring your stuff from home.
• Bring lightweight, synthetic (I.e. fast-drying fabrics) clothes that you can easily wash–even in the sink, if necessary–and re-wear.
So now, you’ll have maybe 3-5 outfits and plan on doing laundry a few times while traveling.
• Use packing cubes to help organize and compress clothes.
Always roll rather than fold (you can fit more in that way).
I’ve tried using vacuum bags, but they are too bulky and don’t use up all the luggage space wisely.
• Wear your bulkiest clothes and layer them if you can.
I’ve worn regular pants over leggings, a longer shirt over a t-shirt, etc. It’s usually cold on the plane anyway.
Also, layering is a good way to go if you’re traveling in the cold months.
• Try to only bring 1 pair of shoes
(the ones on my feet) but if you need to have an extra pair for some reason, absolutely wear the bulkier ones on the flight and pack the lightest ones in your bag (as compressed as possible).
I found a really comfortable pair of flats that I can pack in my bag for dressier occasions, and wear my favorite running/walking shoes on the plane.
Or in the colder months, I’ll wear my dressier boots on the plane and pack a light pair of running shoes for more comfortable walking, or the gym.
• A jacket with a lot of pockets will be your best friend.
You can load it with the kinds of things you’d normally have in your purse (which you may ot otherwise have–at least not during the flight–since you’re only allowed one personal item), plus any extra stuff you want to bring that doesn’t fit into your bag.
• Skip the souvenirs
(If your return flight is also on a budget airline)
Or if you buy something, then something that you brought from home gets thrown out or donated (first choice) to make space.
So, if you know youll probably want to get a t-shirt, simply pack one of your old t-shirts and just dispose of it to make room for the new one.
Same principle applies if you’re going to a conference and know you’ll likely return with some cool swag or a couple of new books or something.
• If you end up with more going back than what you came with and can’t part with any of it, go to the post office and mail a package to yourself.
If they’re books, you can send them for pretty cheap via media mail. If they’re clothes, they are usually pretty lightweight. Unless it’s a huge package, it’ll probably be less than $30 which would be your minimum for bringing it back on the plane (checked bag).
• Only take what you know you will absolutely need and use on the trip.
No “just in case” items. So this usually means just your clothes, laptop, essential toiletries/meds/vitamins (just the amount you will need for the trip, in pill bags), plus your phone and wallet (pared down to minimum as well), chargers, and a small external battery to recharge my phone on the go.
Bring an empty water bottle (any that can be flattened or has a clip to attach to your backpack will do..no need to get fancy here) and a little snack or two for the flight.
If there’s enough room you can toss in a magazine for entertainment (many airports in Europe offer a magazines for free, you’ll see them on the wall near your gate)
But there’s always the phone if your bag and jacket pockets have getting too full.
Go ahead and download the Kindle app for good measure.
It’s free and you don’t need a Kindle for it!