We have some tips on how to get the best out of your flights abroad, including saving money, avoiding jetlag and getting over your fear of flying:
You must be flexible with the time of the year you are travelling and the dates. If you can, be flexible with the day of the week and the time of day as you can take advantage of any deals airlines are offering.
Try low cost airlines such as Ryanair; but be sure to check the distance from the airport to your actual destination as it may end up costing you more.
If there is an airline that you intend to fly on more than once, be sure to sign up for their frequent flyer programme.
Join mailing lists of airlines to keep updated about deals.
Book a connecting flight rather than a non-stop direct flight.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be the cheapest days to fly. Early morning flights can cost less as well.
When flying low cost carriers, take only a carryon bag with you if possible. There are fees for each checked in bag with many airlines now. The penalties are even harsher if you fail to declare a check in bag but your carryon bag is considered too big and must be checked in.
Bring your own food on board.
Make sure you check in online AND print off the boarding pass. If you haven’t does this it’s another €40 at check-in.
Although it's impossible to completely avoid jet-lag on long haul flights, there are a number of things you can do to decrease its effects:
As soon as you get on the plane, set your watch to the time of the place you are going to land. This will start getting you used to the time change.
Try to avoid alcohol on the flight; this will just make the jetlag worse. Drink plenty of water.
When you arrive, eat what you would if you were at home. If you would be eating something light if you were at home, eat something light, even if it's dinner time at your destination.
The same goes if it's night-time back home, but day-time at your destination, try and stay in darkness, even if it just means wearing sunglasses.
You will find the jetlag worse going from West to East than East to West.
Fear of Flying
Over long distances flying is the fastest, cheapest, and so they keep telling us, the safest way to travel. However quite a large proportion of flyers are thought to be afraid of flying. This can be for a number of reasons; feeling claustrophobic, the feeling of not being in control, a previous bad experience on a flight, or just from watching too many episodes of 'air crash investigation' on the Discovery Channel.
Unless you want to spend your whole life at home it's a good idea to deal with your fear of flying. There are numerous ways to do this:
You could get some sedatives off your doctor, and knock yourself out for the duration of the flight. This probably couldn't be described this 'dealing with it’, but it helps some people. Probably not a good idea if you fly a lot for business, as you will be out of it a lot of the time.
Reading - There are numerous books available that deal specifically with the issue, helping to put you at ease and prepare you for your next flight.
Hypnotherapy - Hypnotherapists can get to the core of the problem and instil in you the confidence to get back on a plane. You can also get hypnotherapy CDs that you can listen to in your own time.
Simulators - A more unorthodox way of overcoming your fear is to take a flying lesson in a flight simulator. It can be a bit pricey but understanding how a plane works can help you realise just how safe planes are.
Some things to remember
Just remembering a few important things can help you relax on a plane. First of all, have faith in your pilots, they are trained professionals and don't want to die anymore than you do.
Turbulence is normal, and it's very rare that you would have a flight that didn't experience at least a little bit. Planes are designed to withstand even extreme cases of turbulence. Turbulence simply will not bring down a plane. You will most likely experience turbulence when you are ascending and again when descending as you are travelling through different air currents, especially when it's cloudy. Also going over mountains can cause turbulence, but you can also get what is called Clear Air Turbulence when there is turbulence on the nicest clear day. Again it’s not unusual.
The engine of a plane is extremely unlikely to fail. It's just the ways it's designed. Simplicity is the key. It doesn't have much moving parts so it's a lot less likely to fail than a car for example. Large planes have up to four engines, and they can fly on just one, so engine failure is not a realistic possibility.
A lot of people don't enjoy taking off as they wonder how such a large piece of metal can get up in the air. It is simple aerodynamics; large planes only need around 150mph to take off. A simple change in shape of the wings and the air is pushed down, lifting the plane off the ground. Sports cars have to be designed in such a way as to prevent them from actually taking off. It's perfectly normal for something to fly at those speeds.
A plane can be quite noisy, with the wings, the engine noise, and the hydraulics. These noises again are normal and nothing to worry about. Also, a plane changes direction by turning on its side so there’s nothing unusual about suddenly finding yourself sitting at a steep angle.
Head to an airport just to watch the planes taking off and landing. You will see how routine it is.
Arrive early at the airport. It won’t help the stress to be rushing.
There are courses you can take now that can help you overcome your fear.
Drink 250ml of water an hour in the air. The air conditioning dries out the air. Stay away from that alcohol though.
Use a nasal spray to avoid getting ill after a long flight.
Walk around on a long flight to decrease the chances of a blood clot. It can also distract you if you are afraid of flying.