Why are budget airline tickets so much cheaper? The answer is obvious to anyone who has ever flown with traditional airlines’ cut-price cousins: because of all those little extras that they charge you for, including up to a whopping €50 to check in a suitcase each way. And who has an extra €50 knocking around just for the pleasure of checking in? Here are Gusto Guides‘ 10 essential tips to save on your airfare (not to mention escape the check-in queues and baggage reclaim) and fit everything into your hand luggage.
1. Over the days leading up to your trip, make a list of all the things you will need. This has the double effect of allowing you to jot down all those little things you tend to forget and ruthlessly strike out anything that, on second thoughts, seems a bit frivolous (third bikini, Heinz tomato ketchup and so on).
2. We recently tried and loved CabinZero backpacks – made especially for travellers who want to max out their hand luggage allowance. The bags are made to fit the hand luggage restrictions of most major airlines (yes, including Ryanair and Easyjet) and are good looking things with some nice touches (free lost luggage tracking and a generous warranty). The best thing about our new favourite backpack though? With a whopping 44 litre capacity, it really doesn’t feel like a squeeze to pack everything into the one bag – we went on a week’s trip and had plenty of room to spare.
3. Check in online and print out your tickets – many companies charge for printing at the airport (Ryanair’s going rate is €60 for a last minute paper copy of your boarding pass), and you will sacrifice the best thing about travelling hand luggage only: breezing through departures, skipping the queues and going straight to security.
4. Watch your step: shoes are often the items that take up most space in a suitcase. Think about taking an old, decrepit pair that you could throw away at the end of your trip to make space for souvenirs. We also love picking up cheap and cheerful Spanish alpargatas (from about €3 in local stores) as they are light and pack ultra-flat.
5. Remember that you can only take one bag as hand luggage (although some airlines, like Monarch, are a little more relaxed and may let you take two smaller items). For day trips or for keeping your valuables with you on the plane, it is a good idea to pack a smaller bag within your main rucksack or case- ideally a light, fabric tote as they fold up small and weigh next to nothing. Also remember that you are usually allowed to take a carrier bag from duty free onto the plane with you for no extra cost.
6. Plasters, earplugs and a good eyemask are worth their weight in gold on certain journeys (delayed flights, screaming kids, etc) – have them close to hand for just in case.
7. Don’t forget a plastic bag to separate out dirty clothes and wet swimwear, even in the smallest of suitcases.
8. Take a small bottle of detergent with you so that you can wash clothes on the hoof. This works especially well in hot climates where items dry in a couple of hours, and allows you to keep your travel wardrobe to a bare minimum.
9. If you can’t leave your gadgets behind, take a tablet or e-reader with you. Laptops are bulky and, unless you are going to be doing some serious work on your travels, a tablet with portable keyboard is more than sufficient for most purposes.
10. Suitcase or rucksack? If you are travelling to a city, go for a wheeled case; again, many are made especially to fit into the hand luggage limit imposed by most airlines. For more adventurous trips go for a rucksack.