How to make flying on a budget more bearable

If you fancy yourself a cost-conscious traveler, you may already be familiar with the trials and tribulations of budget airlines. But if you’re a novice enticed by the low prices, you should know that nearly everything is charged a la carte. From carry-on bags to bottled water, you’ll almost certainly need to pay an additional fee for whatever isn’t covered by your ticket. In fact, by the time you’re done racking up incidental costs, you may end up spending just as much as you would have with a standard airline. These cheap flights usually come with no frills and few creature comforts. Here’s how you can make the experience more tolerable.

When Purchasing Your Ticket

1. Read The Fine Print When Booking

It will tell you what is and isn’t covered by your ticket, allowing you to decide whether a budget flight matches your needs. If you’re traveling to a wedding for which you need a lot of puffy clothes, for example, you may be better off selecting an airline that offers a free checked bag.

2. Give Yourself A Time Cushion If You Have A Connecting Flight

Some budget airlines notoriously run on a constant delay. If you’re going somewhere that requires a layover, try to give yourself at least a couple of hours between flights so that you can get to your next leg on time if your first flight takes off later than expected.

3. Consider Getting Travel Insurance Or Use A Credit Card That Provides Travel Coverage

If you’re anxious about lost baggage or a canceled flight, consider investing in travel insurance. Some credit cards also cover these common travel issues, so investigate the benefits of your current cards or consider applying for a travel-friendly card before booking your trip.

Before your flight

4. Check In As Soon As Possible

Some budget airlines forgo assigned seating and allow their customers to choose their seats based on the order they checked in. Ideally you’ll be able to check in for your flight online, putting you higher up in the pecking order. Some airlines also offer early-bird check-ins (for a fee, of course).

5. Pack Light

Your budget airline may charge you for every bag you bring, even carry-ons, so make sure to pack only the essentials. Keep in mind that such airlines often have strict size restrictions for carry-on bags, so double-check the allowed dimensions.

6. Bring Snacks And Drinks

Depending on what airline you select, you might not even get free water. Bring some snacks or buy them from the airport before you board. To save even more, bring an empty water bottle and fill up at a drinking fountain before your flight.

7. Prioritize Your Comfort

Eye masks, neck pillows, motion-sickness medication and sleeping aids can help, even in the middle seat of a cramped flight. Don’t forget to bring your own entertainment, too, as many budget airlines don’t offer TVs.

8. Get To The Airport Early

To minimize the stress of the journey, arrive early so that you have time to get your bearings and deal with any unforeseen problems. A flight on a budget airline isn’t always the easiest way to get around, but if you’re willing to put up with some mildly austere conditions, the savings can help defray your trip’s other costs. Written by Chanelle Bessette for NerdWallet. Chanelle Bessette is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: cbessette@nerdwallet.com. The article Take a Budget Airline Flight From Basic to Bearable originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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