I spent an incredible 2 days in the beautiful island of Mallorca with some of the other lovely English teachers in this spring’s Teach Abroad program. I got the chance to tomar sol (sun-tan in Spanish), listen to the sound of the ocean, and connect with some really great people. However, this trip was not without its mishaps. Below I will share what happened to me, how to avoid making the same mistake, and some best practices once you snag that cheap European plane ticket.
On Thursday afternoon, I took a bus from my small town to Madrid, where I was going to then take the train to the airport in order to catch my flight on time. However, in order for my plan of bus-train-plane to work, I needed everything to leave and arrive at their exact scheduled times.
Unfortunately, my bus pulled into Madrid 15 minutes late, making me miss the train to the airport. Although I caught the next one, I decided to step off at the next stop to save myself the stress of not catching my flight. Although stepping off that train took courage, I knew it was for the better.
I stepped foot on the train platform in who-knows-where Madrid, took some deep, calming breaths, and tried to accept the fact that I had just sent $100 down the drain.
While it ended up taking me a few days to mentally let go of the money, I was in Madrid! I love Madrid. I’ll just catch a flight out in the morning, I thought.
Luckily, I also had a friend from college in Madrid doing a similar teach-abroad program. After calling her up and asking if I could stay the night at her place, she generously agreed and told me to meet her for a drink as well.
So, what started as a catastrophe in my mind ended up being a very pleasant, relaxing opportunity to catch up with a friend in a beautiful city. All it took was deep breaths, generosity, and the willingness to be flexible.
That being said, here are some best practices to keep in mind once you have clinched a cheap plane ticket in Europe:
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- Those cheap European flights all have one important catch: you have to get to the airport early enough.
- If you are unable to check in online, which happened to me, you must to get to the airport at least 90 minutes in advance in order to check in in-person. I am still not sure why sometimes you are unable to check in online, but to be safe, get to the airport early enough
- Ryanair, a popular airline in Europe, is nonrefundable. That means no matter how many times you contact customer support and patiently wait for an actual human, you will not be getting your money back if you miss a flight
- Ryanair was lenient on their 1 personal item limit, but to be safe, try and fit everything into one large carry-on to avoid expensive checked-bag fees
- There is no free food or water on the plane.
- This one was inspired by a friend with whom I met up in Mallorca: get one of those plastic bag water bottles so it takes up less room in your bag when empty. You can find one here on Amazon or at REI
- Make sure you purchase your seat online beforehand. If you don’t, you might get a middle seat
- The price on Google Flights is not counting the price of your seat. You usually have to add $15-$25 to the Goggle Flights price.