We’ve all done it (those of use who’ve flown anyway), bought a cheap flight and congratulated ourselves on our frugal actions. Only to blow a chunk of our budget during the flight on food and drinks. An easy mistake to make, especially when you’re in holiday mode. But for those of us on a budget, possibly with savings goals, this moves us a step back from where we want to be. What we need is a way to save money on flights; essentially on travelling.
To that end, here’s 5 quick tips for reducing costs when you fly.
- Take a bottle. Flying is thirsty work, but this can be expensive; especially on budget airlines. A simple way to get around this is by taking your own water with you. I don’t mean buying it when you get past security; take your own water bottle. This could be an expensive bespoke flask with an in-built filtration system or just a used water bottle you can get at any service station. Simply empty the contents before you go through security; once through, find a water fountain and fill up your bottle to take with you on to the plane. Problem solved.
- Pack your own lunch. Like water above, plane food can easily add to the overall cost of your trip. This is especially true of budget airlines, where food is pushed as a secondary revenue stream. Two return flights from the UK to Portugal in January 2017 cost us less than £50 (approx. $65 USD) with Ryanair. A crazy price, but we ended up spending £30 on food and drink on the flights. This is effectively a 46% increase in the cost of the flights. A simple fix is to pack your own food for the flight and save a bomb. Plus you can choose stuff you really want to eat, and it’ll probably be healthier too!
- Don’t choose a seat. You can pay anything from £3 to £20 to book a seat on a Ryanair flight. This is each way. So the cost to reserve a standard seat for two people on a return flight will be £36 ($46 USD). This is just unnecessary expenditure, especially if the flight is only a couple hours long.
- Pack light. Ryanair charges between £30 and £40 per passenger for checked baggage. Just get yourself a carry-on sized suitcase or backpack and save yourself a bomb. Not only that but you’ll get to enjoy a sense of self-satisfaction and smugness as you breeze past your fellow passengers waiting at the conveyor belt for their luggage.
- Take public transport. Some prior planning can save you a bomb at the airport. You’ve landed, got your stuff and just want to get to your accommodation, you don’t speak the language and so end up taking a taxi. This situation could be nullified with some prior planning. Use google maps and check online to see what transport is available. Can you take a train from the airport? In Madrid, I rode the RENFE from the airport, with a transfer, into the city centre and walked 5 minutes to my accommodation. All this for less than €5 (approx. $6 USD). Where does the train stop? How many stops is this from the airport? What’s the name of the station? etc. Knowing where you’re going and how to get there will make flying a whole lot less stressful. Moreover, by using public transport instead of taxis at the airport, you’ll save some money.
An honourable mention: buy your foreign currency beforehand. Airport exchanges can be 10% more expensive than buying from elsewhere. Shop around online to get the best deal.
And that’s it, short and sweet. There’s plenty of advice out there on how to get cheap plane tickets (I still don’t think you can do much better than Skyscanner) but less so on the simple day-to-day habits and behaviours we can change which can add up to some significant savings.
If you enjoyed the post, please leave a like and comment below. What things do you do to save money when flying?