Travelling on a budget – part two
In the first edition of Travelling on a budget, we talked about flights and accommodation. In today’s post, I’m going to tackle the most hellish and woeful part of the trip: airports (and long airplane rides). Because honestly, both can get VERY expensive if you’re not prepared in advance.
So let’s get started:
International & Domestic Travel: Airports and Airplanes
1. Stuff your carry on with supplies
In my eyes, most airports are a cesspit of overpriced bottled water and bum-numbing chairs (some exceptions apply), but they are a necessary evil for me to get from one destination to another. On top of my handbag, I have a very thin, Mary Poppins-style never-ending carpet bag that I always carry with me on airplanes. I like to start the trip with it empty, save for a few airport survival supplies, so I can use it to carry any precious cargo home. (In Jordan last year, I purchased two stunning salad bowls, they went in my carry on).
So what can you find in my carry on at the beginning of my trip?
- iPad loaded with movies and tv shows
- Empty water bottle (to be refilled once I get through customs)
- Inflatable neck pillow
- Wide purple pashmima (airplanes are notoriously freezing, even if you follow my advice in point 2)
- Bag of nuts/raspberry licorice/other snack (I get hungry, a lot)
- Spare pair of underwear
- Eye cream
2. Dress smart
While your destination (or even departure point) might be boiling hot, it’s important to remember that airplanes are iceboxes. Therefore, layers are essential. My airplane outfit is a combination of smart layering and sturdy staples. I have these amazing black velvet leggings I picked up in the USA a few years ago, which I wear exclusively on airplanes. I then add a long sleeve cotton top, layer over a loose tshirt and over my thick-socked feet I wear any of the following: Converse low-rise Chuck Taylors, ankle boots, knee high boots.
Over all of that, I throw on this:
Yeah, that is a woollen poncho with silver thread. It’s the best blanket/jumper double ever.
IF my destination (or departure point) are so goddamn hot it’s going to be unbearable to even make it from the airport to my accommodation without dying of heat exhaustion, I throw a light summer frock or a pair of shorts into my carry on for a costume change just before landing. If it’s snowing, I make sure I also have my winter coat.
My best friend on long-hauls and the perfect movie snack!
I spoke earlier about my nuts/raspberry licorice/other snack that I like to carry due to always being hungry. Look, I’m always hungry in my every day life, but that doubles hard when I’m in an airport where there is SO MUCH FOOD! Before an airplane trip, I always make sure I eat a proper meal, but with airport food being as pricey as it is, I like to be prepared. If I’m coming home from an amazing location, I pick up something to take with me – most places in the world have a signature sandwich.
If you’re not flying a full service airline, you know you’re not going to get fed… so maybe get two sandwiches.
4. Checked baggage
Saying goodbye to my beloved pink suitcase, which I abandoned in Austria after the wheels gave out entirely and I ended up with a huge hole in the base of it.
On a full service airline, you normally get baggage included – but it’s important to know exactly how much and what the excess cost is if you go a bit crazy shopping overseas. You also need to keep in mind any internal, domestic or short international flights you might take while away. For instance, you can totally take two suitcases from Australia to America on Qantas for free, but you’ll be paying for those on every internal leg you take once you arrive. (Cheat’s tip: Southwest Airlines let you book two bags for free on all their US domestic flights.)
5. Ask for help
On my trip home from Austria last year, I got stuck next to two heavily overweight people. Now this isn’t something I would normally complain about, as I don’t think they needed to feel any more uncomfortable than they probably already were… except for that the entire flight home they drank and drank and drank and drank. Three Jack Daniels here, another two Jim Beans thanks… oh you’re out of them now? Can I have some Tia Maria’s?
Most airlines are pretty strict about a passenger’s alcohol intake, but some can be lax and this one was… As the 13 hour flight dragged on, they both got drunker, more loose and they stunk like nothing else. When one of them fell asleep, he leaned on me… dripping boozy sweat onto me. I told my mother upon my return, who said next time I should make a note to inform the flight attendant and ask to be moved.
You have every right to be as comfortable as you can on a flight, so if the person sitting next to you makes you nervous or uncomfortable or disgusted (within reason, don’t be racist or homophobic or size-ist about it), speak up. If there is room on the flight, they will move you.