This post is sponsored by XL Airways and its partners but, of course, all opinions are my own! #ad
I get asked a lot by people how I can afford to travel. Some people think I’m mega rich (I’m not) and others think it’s a magic trick (it’s not). Anyone can travel, it’s just about budgeting, prioritizing and then getting the biggest bang for your buck. Unfortunately in the US, there isn’t much competition when it comes to the travel market, so flights tend to be through the roof expensive. While you do have airlines such as Southwest or Jet Blue, it’s nothing compared to the affordable airlines of Europe and Asia. Some of these airlines have helped me see way more than I ever would have expected for prices I couldn’t even imagine. If you know what the airlines are and you know how they work, then you’re on your way to having a wonderful, totally affordable trip and you too can travel and tick more countries off of your list.
The top three main affordable airlines in Europe are Ryanair, EasyJet and XL Airways. Of course there are more, but these three offer some of the most affordable and best products of all the different carriers on the continent.
Based in France, this airline is one that people don’t know much about, even though it’s been around since the mid 90s. Although it was originally called Star Airlines, in 2006 it rebranded to XL Airways. What’s great about this airline are its cheap long-haul flights, which can be rare to find and can drop as little as $400. Sorry while I just pick my jaw up off the floor. You can check out the destination map here, but they fly from France to places such as New York, San Francisco and Miami, with a new route to Los Angeles starting June 1; all routes that operate three times a week. However, you’re not limited to just long-haul, as they fly to destinations in the Caribbean, as well as seasonal flights to places in Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Unlike some of its competitors, XL Airways have a modern and comfortable cabin that feels and looks like a full-service airline. Whereas Ryanair and EasyJet both have bright (sometimes blindingly so) colors and advertisements on the overhead bins, XL Airways has got clean lines and comfortable seating, which are two things you definitely need when you’re looking to sit on a plane for six or more hours.
The downside to a lot of these affordable airlines are the fact that you typically get a cheap price because you then have to pay for everything else on top of it, but this is really where XL Airways excels. You receive a free meal and a checked baggage allowance of up to 20kg (44lbs), as well as free seat selection (which can be super important to those of us who can’t stand middle seats). This is incredible because more often than not with these kinds of airlines you end up not actually saving much money once you pay the extra fees for the bag, the meal, even the blanket, etc. I love how inclusive this airline is and how affordable. Rather than opting for WOW or Icelandair the next time you need to travel long-haul to Europe (where you need to pay for your extras), you should definitely check out this airline first because you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
The Irish airline Ryanair has gotten a bad rep over the past few years as being the nasty airline, and while there was some truth to that they have made considerable efforts recently to try and turn things around. In the past people put up with the airline’s rudeness, brashness and, frankly, sometimes idiocy, because the fares were so cheap, but now you no longer need to feel guilty about flying them because they’re not nearly as money-grabbing as before. Ryanair is best for traveling super cheaply within Europe and if you get something on a sale price, you can be looking at a roundtrip flight as cheap as $10 (yes, that’s possible, I flew a $10 return trip to Brussels a couple of months ago). If that’s not affordable, I don’t know what to tell you.
Although Ryanair has insanely cheap within-Europe flight deals, the downside is you don’t get anything included. No meal, snacks or drinks and no checked baggage. If you’re only going somewhere for a few days though, this shouldn’t really affect you. Ryanair is a must to check when you need cheap European flights, and although the whole airline can feel a bit chaotic, it’s cheap, and sometimes that’s all we really want. It’s my personal favorite for perusing and then booking something and going somewhere last minute just because, and I love that there are airlines where that spontaneity is actually possible.
EasyJet is a UK-based affordable airline, and although they have great deals they’re definitely not the best of these three. I have flown EasyJet countless times, but their prices have a tendency to skyrocket on weekends and tend to be consistently higher than their counterparts during the summer. However, if you’re traveling in a non-peak time period you can find some great deals. Some of EasyJet’s fares can go as cheap as $20 roundtrip, but you’d probably be looking at around $50 on average. Of course, it all really depends, but when you compare that to the $200 roundtrip fares full-service airlines are charging that $50 sounds pretty darn good.
As with Ryanair, EasyJet charge you extra if you want checked baggage or meals. The best way to get value out of EasyJet is to check their special offers since those can be crazy cheap and offer you the best value. At the moment, you can purchase a flight from London Gatwick to Stuttgart, Germany for the incredible price £15.
Like anything, finding good flight deals means you need to shop around. It’s not always fun and it’s definitely not the best part of travel, but don’t rely on a single search engine to tell you what prices are. Check out these more affordable airlines, go to their websites, do you research and play around with dates. You’ll be surprised with what you may find. Ultimately, traveling on a budget is totally possible, flights included, and with these three airlines you are well on your way to enjoying travel just as frequently as the best of us. Happy jetsetting!