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One of the best things about traveling in Europe are the ultra-cheap flights. With budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet, it’s possible to country hop for less than the price of a train ticket.

Awesome right?

Well, there are a few catches.

When I first went backpacking in Europe with a friend in 2008, we spent an insane amount of cash booking trains. It wasn’t necessarily that the trains were expensive, it’s that we didn’t plan our transportation options very well.

And then I did some research and saw that Ryanair had flights as low as $20 euros (about $30USD) and couldn’t believe it. Now whenever I travel around Europe, budget airlines are my preferred way to travel. However, there are some things you need to know:

 


Flying in Europe: The Good the Bad and the Ugly


The Good

 

The rock bottom prices are real so long as you follow their rules to a T. These include checking in online, using luggage that meets their baggage regulations exactly, and booking far in advance.

 

The Bad

 

When it comes to Ryanair, their flights are amazing but their delays are not. On my recent 10-day trip to Paris and Rome I took two flights with Ryanair and both were delayed. Usually this isn’t the end of the world but I had booked train tickets so the delays caused me to miss my non-refundable transportation and I had to re-purchase tickets.

 

The Ugly

 

While this isn’t as common with EasyJet, watch out when booking certain routes with Ryanair. Many times their airports are located outside of the named destination cities.

With Paris, for example, their airport was located 75 kilometers outside the city so you either have to take a 17 euro bus or a 200 euro taxi to get there – ouch. In addition, to get to the bus terminal you have to take a taxi or a metro (if it’s even within working metro hours or the transportation workers aren’t on strike).

 

The Verdict

 

I would still fly Ryanair or preferably EasyJet now that I know their limitations. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where these or other airlines within the EU cause you grief, it’s good to know that anyone traveling this region does have rights. You can look these up in Flight Right and just be aware of all the terms and conditions when booking.

It’s also good to know that at the time of this article, July 19th 2014, European carry-on sizing is slightly smaller than American – about 2 inches. This may be changing soon but for now, here are the carry-on allowances for Ryanair and EasyJet:

 

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What have been your experiences flying within Europe?


For more tips, please read these Europe packing lists:

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