Travel can be a costly hobby—you have to decide where to stay, what to eat, what do see and do, and more importantly, how to get there, and all without breaking the bank. Flying is usually the priciest part of the trip, especially with all the extra luggage fees and other taxes that are required nowadays. Quirky flight routes, additional cost, and a more complex culture can throw off even the sharpest tourists. By navigating those can make the difference between a miserable time in the sky or great cheap vacation. The following are some best tips for flying the frugal skies.
Don’t get fooled by a sticker price
A cheap $39 flight might look good compared to an expensive $100 flight, but assume that the cheap flight will charge extra for anything and everything short of the air you breathe. Want to pick your seat? Checking a bag? Need a bigger seat? Check those additional prices, and then make your choice. Having a helpful chart of an airline’s respective charges lets you calculate quickly when comparison shopping.
Beware the unreliable layover turnaround times
Budget airlines like to overestimate their agility. If they present you a tiny-tight window for a connecting flight, give it a closer look. On a recent tour between Montreal and Berlin, one flight was postponed, leaving passengers on the plane with a connecting flight. Too-Good-To-Be-True turnaround time is often precisely that.
Booking international flights in local currency
If you own a travel credit card that doesn’t charge any fee on an international transaction, then it is sometimes cheaper to book in local currency when planning an international flight. Go to search settings on the airline’s website and choose to view the costs in Euros rather than USD. Use Google search which is quick and easy to convert USD to EUR, and it will reveal whether the price is lower or not.
Know when the upgrade is worth it
For long distance flights, choose a seat in advance and reserve room in your budget for a carry-on, if needed. If it’s a full route at a favorite time of day, maybe get priority boarding to make sure your luggage arrives in the overhead bin. But for flights which are less than four hours, maybe save your money. It’s just easier to put up with a middle seat in the back of the plane on a short trip.
Don’t check bags
This is your chance to travel light. Checking bags is costly, and should your bag be misplaced; customer service will be less than friendly. Sizing standards for carry-on baggage differ among European, North American, and other countries, so get yourself a small, sturdy bag. Sometimes rollers are rejected in the cabin, and if that happens, they’ll charge you with another fee.
Last but not least, the best deals for buying tickets come up during the week, partly because several people are buying them.