Let’s say you’ve got your dream job in London. You’re an official expat and all of Europe is at your doorstop. What might you need to know about how to save money on your travel planning? Here are some things that UK natives know that can trip up Americans.
1. That giant carryon bag ain’t going to fly.
America has very generous rules for what’s considered carry on luggage and size restrictions are rarely enforced as long as your bag isn’t too tall to slide into the overhead compartment. In America, if the overhead compartment door will close with your bag placed lengthwise, then you’re good.
In Europe and the rest of the world, the rules are much tighter. There will often be a weight restriction (sometimes only 10 lbs, but mostly likely 15 lb or 22lbs).
The bag sizes allowed are also often smaller.
If you’re planning on traveling carry on only in the UK and Europe (or Australia and New Zealand for that matter), plan on taking way less stuff. You might be able to fit a change of underwear and your laptop in your carry on, if you’re lucky!
Usually the carry on weight restriction only applies to your carry on bag and not your personal item (laptop bag, purse etc), but sometimes the combined weight of your carry on bag and personal item are considered.
Always check the rules of the airline you plan to fly before you book. There are a few airlines that don’t have weight restrictions but they tend to snag you by having smaller size restrictions. Argh!!
This chart will help you but restrictions change so always double check BEFORE you book. It’s sometimes better to take a full service airline and be able to travel with your carry on rather than have to check a bag (and pay for it) on a budget airline.
2. Charter airlines.
I don’t think I’ve ever looked into charter airlines in the US but charter airline flights are much more mainstream in the UK, especially to holiday resort destinations like Greece and Turkey. You can get some very cheap fun in the sun breaks with these airlines, and you’ll need them with how gloomy and depressing the weather in London is (but, hey, great weather isn’t why you’re moving to London).
The charter airline flights also tend to fly out of airports beyond just London, so you can combine a trip to say Glasgow by, for example, flying out of London but back into Glasgow. You’d then stay a couple of days in Glasgow and take the train back to London.
3. Plot out your bank holidays on your calendar.
What Americans would call Federal Holidays are called “Bank Holidays” in the UK, after the idea that the banks are closed on those days. Bank holidays will be a day off work for most people. For example, Easter Friday and Monday are bank holidays.
Since everyone and their mother will be trying to travel on bank holidays, you should book early if you want to travel these weekends. However, they are a great way to make the absolute most of your vacation days, which will typically be more generous than in the US. If you can swing it with your boss, arrange to start or finish your bank holiday weekend a day earlier/later to get the jump on everyone else trying to book flights for that weekend.