Looking to increase your jet-setting but not sure how to make it work in your budget? Same, girl. I have decided to put together a series of Budget Travel tips and hacks that I have used. This will be a multi-part series. I want to let you in on all my best travel secrets while also trying out new things and reporting back.
First up in the series: my experience with budget airlines.
WHAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER
This is a BUDGET airline. Do not expect free snacks, free carry-ons, free drinks, free entertainment. Basically, do not expect anything for free. What that means is that you just need to be prepared. Know too that they have less staff than traditional airlines. This usually means you need to be pretty self-sufficient when it comes to check in.
Choosing your seat: Be flex. Don’t pay to choose your seats and wait until the flight gets settled, if there are empty seats together, move there. If there don’t seem to be, ask your flight attendant or seat neighbor if they would mind trading with your partner.
Paying for baggage: Travel light. If you are traveling with a partner, split the cost of a checked bag and opt out of the carry-on. If you are traveling alone, fit your necessities in the carry-on. If you are traveling to a cold-weather destination, wear your heaviest items on your body while you travel to free up the amount of bag space you will need.
Won’t I get thirsty?: Travel Smart. Bring an EMPTY reusable water bottle with you through security. You know you can’t have the liquid. Once you are through security, find the nearest water fountain and fill up.
But, food: Plan ahead. Have TSA approved snacks and food packed. As long as your food is in a sealed container, you are fine. This also means sandwiches that are covered. Pack options so you will have plenty of choices.
SO bored: C’mon. Bring a book, laptop, music…take a nap. Is there really any excuse for being ‘bored’ in today’s techy world?
I don’t see these cheap prices: Play around. Again, this requires some research and some flexibility. You have to be flex with your travel dates. If you are deadest on a certain time frame you are bound by the prices of those days. If you can be flexible, you will see that flight prices vary greatly depending on time of year and days of the week. Once I find a low fare, I will also play around with departing cities. Get out your calculator and determine if the cost of driving to a nearby city is worth the price cut on the flight. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. This often can open up more destination options as well.
REVIEWING BUDGET AIRLINES
I have traveled 2 “budget airlines” in the recent past: Allegiant Air and WOW air.
Allegiant is mostly a domestic airfare option. They provide low cost flights from most major cities. I have flown Allegiant countless times as they have very affordable flights to and from Florida. I have recently discovered that if I drive over to Cincinnati, Ohio that there are affordable flights to Austin, Phoenix and Denver. (Sign me up!) Allegiant has extra costs for things like opting to print your ticket and checking in at the desk. This typically is not a problem for younger people; it is something that we would be doing anyway. I canceled a flight with Allegiant and had no problem getting a credit to a future flight. They often turn and burn when it comes to flight, and I cannot speak to the safety of their planes but I will say that I haven’t experienced anything to make me question my safety. Because there is such a small window of time between flights, this can often cause delays. I have experienced only a couple of delays with Allegiant and they weren’t for very long. All in all, I would recommend checking into the options that Allegiant has at your home or neighboring airports. This is a great option for low cost travel to get you to new and exciting places without breaking the bank.
WOW is an Icelandic airline operating out of many cities worldwide. They provide very affordable flights from the US to Europe. They are easy to point out because of their purple planes! I honestly really love this airline (I might be clouded by my love of Iceland and their people). The staff is very fun and the airline has commitments to providing education and funding for a more sustainable tourism sector in their country. They also just got done with a holiday initiative where they literally dropped free airfare by drone in 5 cities. They have flights as low as $99 from the US to Iceland. They have flights from the US to the UK and Europe for as low as $129! They have self-service kiosks for luggage tags and check-in. It is very streamlined and there are plenty of staff standing around if you should struggle and need help. I am traveling again with WOW in a couple of weeks.
I have been given no reason not to fly with budget airlines. No, they aren’t always luxurious. Yes, you can qualify them as “nickel and diming” their patrons. They opt to provide those “extras” at a cost in order to keep the cost of the actual airfare as low as possible. For me, it works. I don’t mind being flexible and these airlines have made it easier for me to see more of the world without causing me to stress out about money.
I am always trying new airlines as I hear of good deals. If there is a cheap airline that you have been hearing about but are afraid to book your tickets, comment on this post and let me know, I will try them out and report back.
*This post is not sponsored by either airline (but if you are reading this and are an airline representative...) and opinions are solely my own.