Featured writer: http://jenhammer.com/
Here’s a piece of advice if you’re planning to travel to Europe in the winter; pack lightly. That can be difficult for some, particularly if you like to look stylish whilst sashaying down the Champs Elysee or sipping hot chocolate in a Swiss ski resort. But if you plan to travel as cheaply as possible and take full advantage of budget European air travel, then your suitcase should be filled with essential items only.
I say this for whilst on a European jaunt with my very stylish 23-year-old niece Kate, our wallets were deflated considerably because our packing technique left a lot to be desired.
Needing to fly from Frankfurt to London as cheaply as possible, we were delighted to find fares as low as 20 Euro each. The only drawback was the 20-kilo baggage allowance that incurred expensive fees if not adhered to. This information horrified us as the thought of holidaying in Paris and London with minimum clothing was not on our agenda for this trip.
At first we tried, with great effort I might add, to shove clothing into already overstuffed hand luggage, but our efforts were all in vain and our only option was to store unwanted items (I say that tongue in cheek) at the airport storage facility. Obviously the realisation that a ruthless cull was required did not sit favourably, after all, how does one choose between the black wool coat bought specifically for the trip, or the white parka with fur lined hood? Seriously…
However compromises were made and 10 kilo’s of clothing were rather reluctantly placed in the hands of the clerk at Frankfurt airport’s luggage storage facility. Then looking like overstuffed Michelin men for we had donned two coats each, three sweaters and a few scarves draped artistically around our necks, we scurried across the tarmac and boarded our flight before some airport employee decided we too needed weighing.
Once settled in our 20Euro seats we felt very pleased with ourselves knowing our ruthless if not emotional cull of much-loved items had saved us a considerable amount of money.
Or so we thought.
It was on our return to Frankfurt 10 days later when the storage facility clerk said a hefty 150 Euro was required to free our stored belongings we realised we had not saved at all. The cheaper option would have been to pay baggage fees or better still, to leave those ‘much-loved’ items at home, particularly as they were not even missed in London and Paris. So it was with lighter wallets that we boarded our flight home to Australia, and although there was a lesson learnt, it did not dampen our spirits.
Sometimes you simply have to quote the French and say ah, c’est la vie, you live and learn, or I should say you live, and then learn to pack lightly for European winter vacations.
A trip to Nepal is looming, yes, we are already starting to panic… white parka or black coat?
Useful information. A trap for travellers who may be able to carry more luggage on the main parts of their journey, only to find tight restrictions on the short hops/cheaper legs.
Unfortunately excess baggage charges here in Europe can be very expensive, especially on budget airlines. My top tip is to repack your bag at least twice, you’ll always find something that you don’t really need and can leave behind. When booking flights, it’s also cheaper to pre-book your excess baggage and, if you pre-book any sports equipment such as skis they usually let you get away with a bit of extra luggage. If you want to avoid the excess costs, go with a non-budget charter airline such as Lufthansa or Aegean. The flights usually cost a little bit more, but you can save more than the difference in excess luggage and in-flight meals.