Beat the budget airline

Flying with a low cost airline may mean cheap flights to your favourite destinations, but it can also mean hidden costs, luggage fees and sitting apart from the rest of your party. Listed below are the top three budget airlines in the UK, and the tips and tricks I’ve discovered to keep costs as low as possible.


They receive a lot of bad press, but there is no doubt Ryanair offers some of the cheapest flight prices to European destinations. Searching right now, I can find flights from London airports to Germany, France, Denmark and Poland all for under £10 each way – bargain! However, these flight prices do not include bags, food and drink or seat selection.

You have two options when booking with Ryanair – either choose between Standard, Plus or Flexi Plus packages, or stick to Standard and add priority boarding on at the next step. Confused? Us too. Stick with it.

The standard is the original fare, nothing extra, so no extra charge. Plus is around £40 more on the standard ticket and Flexi Plus is around £60 more. These allow you seat selection and luggage allowance. Full inclusions detailed below.

If you don’t want to pay for a package and just need a cabin bag allowed on board, consider adding priority. This is much cheaper, at £12 each way, so although you won’t get seat selection included, if all you want is a cabin bag then this is the way to go.


If you haven’t selected a package and have simply paid for priority to get a cabin bag on board, then selecting a seat can cost as little as £4 per flight, but quickly climbs to £13 if you want a seat towards the front of the plane. If it’s a short journey and you are not worried about sitting with with the other members of your party, skip the seat selection offer and let the airline randomly allocate you one free of charge.

If you wish to sit together, still always take the randomly allocated free option at first and hope that they will put you together. If they do not, you are then shown a map of all available seats, and often the will be empty seats next to each of your allocated ones (annoying!). Move one of your party and split the cost of the ticket between you. Saves you both paying to choose a seat in the first place!

Wizz Air:

The budget airline with its HQ in Hungary is becoming increasingly popular with British travellers, and for good reason. They offer a huge number of cheap flights from London to cities all over Europe, and the flight times generally aren’t bad either.

Wizz Air offer three options when booking, with their package options including seat selection and luggage that can be taken on board and/or checked into the hold. The packages on offer are below, and while the prices vary depending on flights, you can expect to pay around £40 extra for Wizz Go and £55 for Wizz Plus.

Wizz air also offer the option to sign up to the Wizz Discount Club for €29.99 a year, which I have found it very useful when flying several times a year with the airline, and have saved a fair bit of money above and beyond the €29.99 fee. They list their benefits online as the following:

  • guaranteed minimum discount of €10 on each flight on all fares from €19.99, anytime during your membership 
  • min. €5 discount on baggage purchased online
  • the discounts also apply to the reservation of the member’s travel companion (within the same booking as the member, maximum one more passenger per booking for a Standard Membership and up to 5 passengers for a Group Membership)
  • get informed about member-only promotional offers via email before others and get access to additional discounts after you subscribe to WIZZ Special Offers


easyJet offer slightly more in their standard ticket costs, including a cabin bag for each passenger, which takes the stress out of worrying about which ‘package’ you need to select. You have the option to upgrade to Flexi ticket, which allows changes to flight dates and times, plus checked 23kg bags, fast track security along with some other additions, but unless you are wanting to check a bag it really isn’t necessary.


If you haven’t selected the flexi ticket option, you will either be asked to choose and pay for a seat or to have one randomly allocated upon check in. Seats at the front of the plane are usually around £13.50, with seats towards the back going down to around £6.



A city that may not at first spring to mind for a city break, but should definitely be on your list! With lots of garden bars tucked between amazing architecture, a charming old town with a huge variety of cafes and restaurants and Europes largest urban beach, there’s plenty to keep you busy!

Sample itinerary

  • Currency: Romanian Leu
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Romanian

Stay: Old Town

Evenings in Bucharest centre around the old town, and so staying nearby makes for easy access to all the bars/cafes/restaurants. We stayed in an amazing apartment that we found on Airbnb, owned by CityLife Suites, and at £230 for three nights, it was a real bargain! The communication from the owners was great, and they also sorted airport transfers for us and gave a huge list of recommended bars and restaurants, which gave us a great starting point for exploring the city!

Do: Therme, Garden Bars, Old Town

Therme spa is located around 30 minutes by taxi out of the city, but it absolutely worth making the trip for. I recommend buying an all day ticket (80lei/£15) as once you get here, you won’t want to leave! The outdoor pool area is also home to Europes largest urban beach – brilliant for a sunny day – and the pool also has a huge swim up bar. Inside, there is a regular activity timetable, and when the sun goes down it turns into a lit up party paradise!

There are plenty of garden bars to choose from in Bucharest, and if you have a spare afternoon, definitely take some time out to visit one. My favourite was Gradina Floreasca as not only did they do great food (see below) but the pool was amazing to relax by for the afternoon and the drinks were very reasonable.

Spend your evenings in the old town, wandering the streets (all pedestrianized, which is lovely) and take your pick from the many cafes and restaurants that line the streets. In the good weather tables are filled outside and the buzz of chatter fills the air. There are also plenty of bars to keep you occupied into the early hours.

Eat: Les Bourgeois, Gradina Floreasca, Hanu’ Lui Manuc

Dinner in Bucharest depends very much on what you’re looking for in terms of cuisine, but here are plenty of amazing places to eat!

Located in the heart of Old Town, Les Bourgeois has tables sprawling across the street and an extensive menu offering local Romanian dishes as well as plenty of international options, and all for a very reasonable price. The pork chop with truffled potato is my personal recommendation!

Breakfast at Hanu’ Lui Manuc was a leisurely experience, and we were seated in a very pretty outdoor garden. The breakfast menu is simple; omelette or fried eggs with a choice of cheese, ham or smoked salmon. Working out around £3 per person (including a hot drink) it was a great place for a cheap meal that was still very good quality.

We visited Gradina Floreasca for the afternoon to spend time in the relaxing garden bar and make the most of the (free) swimming pool. The food here was excellent – the chicken and avocado salad in particular – and it’s definitely worth heading here for an afternoon in the sun and a delicious lunch.

Drink: Nomad, Pure Vida, Gradina Floreasca, Bound Bar

Visiting in summer months can mean soaring temperatures, so if you’re in need of a drink to cool down, consider the outdoor patio at Bound Bar. The giant mojitos were a personal favourite, and if you fancy a dance in the evening, this bar turns into a club at night.

Gradina Floreasca (as already mentioned above) is a garden bar in the heart of the city, and has an extensive drinks menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The perfect place to spend an afternoon with an Aperol Spritz!

If its a drink with a view you’re after, then Nomad and Pure Vida are the places to aim for – they’re two of the best rooftop bars in Bucharest.


Finding cheap flights

We all know the struggle – Desperate to travel as often as possible, but limited by our constantly empty bank accounts. The good news is, its much easier to travel on a budget than a lot of people think, as long as you aren’t too precious about exactly when or where you go. And before you worry, I’m not talking going to Greece in the middle of November when it’s freezing – It’s often just a case of altering your departure date by a day either way and suddenly your flight prices have plummeted. Read on to see my best tips on finding cheap flights…

Be flexible with travel dates:

Skyscanner is excellent for searching multiple airline prices at once, and they have the option of searching for prices over the whole month, meaning you can instantly see which days are cheapest (shown in green) through to most expensive (in red) to fly on. I’ve put an example of a flight search for London > Budapest below for the whole month of October. It’s an amazing tool to use if you aren’t tied to a specific date to travel on!

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Be flexible with your destination:

Not decided on where you want to go? Time to check out the fare finder on the Ryanair website. You simply enter your preferred departure airport and a rough budget and they list, in ascending order, the cheapest places to travel! Prices may alter slightly depending on dates you select, but it’s the easiest way to find the cheapest places to visit. Who knows, you might even discover your new favourite city!

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Browse in private windows:

It may be that you’re set on your travel days and your destination, and thats fine! If this is the case and you’re looking to book flights but notice they keep going up in price the more you search different websites, consider searching for them in a private web browser. This stops cookies being stored, meaning the flight companies won’t know you are repeatedly searching for the same routes, and you will always be shown the cheapest price available.

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