Travel Tips Trish's Table

Budget Flights – Packing and Survival Tips


You found that illusive $99 flight to Ireland and you bought it without thinking twice.  Yep this happened to me and yes $99 flights do exist especially through Norwegian.  After the elation dies down a little you take a good look at the flight requirements and the airlines website and you start panicking.  Only one carry on allowed and it has to be under 10 kg…no seat assignments….no food or beverages…no checked baggage.  What did you get yourself into?  You’re heading to cold weather and it has to be under 10kg?  And one bag?

You are in luck, I went through this exact situation, so excited for Ireland and buying before I read the no refund policy or any further information.  This survival guide is for the most part to help you with the logistics of packing and surviving the actual flight there.

  1. Buy a luggage scale!  Yes I know the trick of stepping on a regular bathroom scale and weighing yourself then stepping on the scale with the bag.  There is one big problem with those.  The bathroom scale isn’t portable.  The one I have is very compact and doesn’t weigh a lot, so I carry it with me when I travel.  This serves two purposes, the main one is knowing how much I add to my backpack with every purchase and I can mail boxes home as needed.  And the second is before I head to the airport for my return flight, I can weigh my backpack and know there won’t be surprises.
  2. Splurge on a good backpack that is smaller than the measurements of the flight carry on limits, but the backpack can expand to fit the measurements.  I travel with the Cabin Zero 36L backpack.  Yes, when you see it the first thought is always…I can never fit everything in that backpack, but I have had three pairs of jeans and four tops, two sweaters and all makeup and electronics along with another pair of shoes in the bag and still had room to spare (see top pictures).  The issue is the weight, you will have room to spare, but you will probably go over the weight limit before you fill it.  This is what you want in a backpack as when you buy something it has room in your backpack while traveling at least till you need to send some home due to getting on another flight.
  3. Wear your heaviest items onto the plane.  Yes this makes a little bit of a hassle when it comes to security, but it’s quite honestly not so bad.  (This is where Tip #6 helps too)  Wear your coat, that bulky sweater you want to take, your heaviest pair of jeans (am I the only one that has one pair that are so much heavier than the others?  Maybe it’s because the others are stretch…who knows?)  The only exception to this I have ever done is boots, but I am a little tricky with my boots.  Remember the extra room in the backpack? So this is how I do this one.  I check into the airline wearing my boots (so they are not in my bag for the weigh in) and then before I go through security I slip on a pair of ballet flats and stick my boots in my carryon, then on the other side of security I put on my boots again in case they want to weigh my bag again. (I always travel with these shoes anyway…can we say comfy and dressy? I highly recommend ballet flats for travel!)  This also goes for scarves, or hats that you might want to take.  I stick them in the pockets of my coat if they fit.
  4. This is for the long flight there, but take an empty water bottle through security (you can as long as they are empty) and fill with water on the other side of security.  This gives you something to drink on the flight.  Also pack granola, cereal or protein bars.  Again this is something you can take through security as long as it’s closed and in original wrapper.  This will take care of food and drinks on the flight so you aren’t landing in another country hungry and you don’t have to by the airplane food.
  5. Double and triple check your name and information before you buy the flight and immediately after you buy.  Some budget flights do charge you extra if you have to change your name on your ticket, this can be almost as much as the ticket so don’t make this mistake (lesson learned, stupid damn autocorrect!)
  6. Arrive early.  Like stupidly early.  If you want to sit anywhere close to the person you are travelling with, arrive as early as possible.  Download an audio book to your phone and be prepared to wait awhile.  This should go for all international flights anyway, but especially for budget flights because the seats are first come first serve.  So you might get the middle seat in row 10 and your travelling companion might get the aisle seat in row 20.  Yes it happens and believe me it’s better to be early and bored.
  7. Remember you paid for a budget flight.  Now I love my budget flights, but don’t worry, if you are really stressing about the restrictions, just remember they are always willing to up sale you whatever you want….for a price.

Let me know if these tips were helpful for your budget flight or if you have any that I forgot!  Happy Travels!

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