Traveling by plane is usually a necessity to get to Europe, especially if you are coming from a place that is not Europe. Tah-dah. The international flight was the most overwhelming to me, just because I always had the fear that I would somehow not make it to Europe. And dying. There’s always fear of dying. All joking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my international flight, despite it’s length and bad reputation. The Austrian Airline attendants were super hospitable and the food was not half bad. The plane also had movies, as well as a USB Charger port for my phone.
Once in Europe, I initially wasn't too crazy about traveling by plane, mainly because shooting through the sky in an unpredictable metal tube is pretty terrifying. On the other hand, taking a plane can be much faster. You already knew that. But did you know this?
Flying is (usually) cheaper.
I had no idea this was possible. If you're smart you can maximize you travel efficiency (in regards to money and time).
Trains can be very expensive, and especially if you are traveling over night, reservations and sleeper cars get pretty pricy. Granted, trains are nice because they are almost always on time and you don't have to wade through the waves of security for hours before departure, but sometimes it might be worth it. Of course, flying is not allay the least expensive route, it all depends on the airline and where you are flying to. RyanAir has super dirt-cheap flights, that are much faster than a train. Even if you train to a city and then fly back, it saves you a lot of time and can be worth it. Here are some tips you may find useful.
- Don’t bring more than you need. Checked bags will be the bane of your existence. Don’t do it. I have found that I can bring more than enough in a single carry-on bag. If you are looking to buy a nice travel pack, there are plenty that are specifically designed for maximizing carry-on capacity. I bought one from timbuk2.com for like $100 that worked perfectly. I never had a problem with not having enough stuff or my bag being too big. Also, it really helps to organize what is in your bag. That way, if you get randomly selected for a humiliating security check, it will be mildly less unpleasant.
- Early flights aren't always the best flights. Sure its nice to hit the road early, but you might want to think twice before booking that 7am flight. I have made the mistake more than once of leaving early, thus having to wake up at 2:30am, take sketchy night busses for the 2 hour trip to the airport, only to be exhausted for the rest of the day. Most metro systems don't open until 5am-6am, so night busses or overpriced taxis are your only option. But that’s your call.
- The earlier you book, the better. I could be wrong, but in all the scenarios i’ve encountered, the price shoots up as you approach your departure day. Just be aware of this as you plan out your trips.
- Printing tickets can be a hassle, be aware of smartphone “digital tickets” and hotels and libraries that will let you print tickets. RyanAir, which is the cheapest airline, charges you for printing your tickets, and it usually means you will be standing in line behind someone for a little while. In, addition for all you Americans and other non-E.U. members, you must get your ticket and passport pre-approved at the ticket desk before going through security, this is a pretty easy process, but finding the right desk can be a little confusing. My best advice would be to look for signs and ask attendants for help, most of them will know enough english to help you out.
Take all of this with a grain of salt, seeing that I haven’t flow excessively in Europe. All of those trips were with RyanAir as well, so the amount of data is rather small. That being said, my point is mainly to make you aware possibly pitfalls, so don't disregard everything I say.