The Dummies Guide to Ryanair

Ryanair are great, I love them!

On my 50th low cost flight (sitting on the plane, counting my fingers), I couldn’t help but notice all those little things that if you do NOT know about, flying with Ryanair can be a right disaster.

The way I see it, sometimes in life if you do not have enough money, you have to trade some comfort for pleasure. We watch free TV even though we are bombarded with adverts. Similarly Ryanair is like a cheap cinema ticket to a fantastic show, anywhere in Europe, but before the show begins we need to sit through the ads.

So how do you go through the process with as little anger (and cost) as possible?

Lets start with pre-flight:

  1. Dont search for bargains on their site, use SkyScanner to quickly see when the cheapest fares are in the month you wish to travel.
  2. If you are a frequent flyer it is worth having a Prepaid Mastercard because it saves you (as the Visa Electron used to in the past) £10 per person per return flight. Vaivara and I travel approximately 10-15 times a year, so it saves us almost £300.
  3. Always remember to do your online check-in and take your ticket with you – if you forget to and plan to do it at the airport, those slimy Irish folk at the Ryanair desk will ask you for £40.
  4. Pack some lunch – food and drinks are ludicrously expensive on the flight and you will get hungry.
  5. Take an empty water bottle – (Thanks Tom) Obviously you can’t take a full one past security but an empty one can always be filled once inside, saving you up to £4 each way.
  6. Not all airports do but some Ryanair flights will have your handluggage weighed and if it is 10.1kg and there is nothing more you can take out, you will have to pay for it to be checked in. BANG, another £35.
  7. One hand luggage means, one hand luggage – so don’t even think about hand-bags, laptops, bottles, duty free stuff or anything else really being outside.

Then at the airport:

  1. There’s only one major thing to say here and that is – if you haven’t flow with Ryanair before dont risk taking too much luggage the first time before you know if your bag fits in their size check (which is smaller than that of all other airlines by the way). If it doesn’t you will have to check it in and pay £35.

And finally on the plane:

  1. Try to get on quickly and sit either right at the front or move quickly to the middle because other than at those two sections, you will feel the pain after 2 hours becuause clearly those who put the seats so close together knew they would never have to sit in them.
  2. Don’t forget to clap with the rest of the relieved Eastern Europeans when you hear the cheesy jingle and then roll your eyes when they tell you Ryanair is Europe’s no.1 airline because it is always on time – well of course they are always on time; they schedule a standard 2 hour journey as a 3 hour one (which makes planning a nightmare because you never know exactly how long it will take).

Love ’em or hate ’em though, Ryanair still rock! I have never had any major issues, all the ones above were lessons I either learned lightly or have seen others learn the hard way.

Any more suggestions, please let me know.

Amsterdam Never Gets Boring

I’ve now been to Amsterdam four times. Each one quite different from the other.

The first time was with my parents. We watched Bulgaria play against Holland, did loads of tourist-type stuff and discovered the amazing, world-famous dutch fries with sauce.

The second time was insane. Fourteen hour coach trip from Manchester through Dover, on the ferry, loads of drinking, singing on the coach and the kind of experiences some people hope to never forget (for their youth depends on these memories).

The third time was with a group of experienced Amsterdammers. We knew what we wanted to do, did it, stayed in a fully-equipped apartment (rather than a hostel) and Teddy and I decided to rent some bikes (best decision ever).

In keeping with the tradition of going to Amsterdam every year I am a student, this year I was very lucky to manage to convince Tom, my housemate, to come with me (this is after I had already booked my tickets).

So having had three very different experiences, I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out. As it turned out, pretty awesome actually.

On the Friday we met up with Dani, a friend who studies in Holland. Bar-crawling, exploring and catching up. On Saturday we made a brave decision to rent out bikes; bikes which had old-fashioned pedal breaks and no gears. Because it was puring down we took them back to our city centre boat. Yeah, that’s right, Amsterdam no.4 will forever remain as the time when we stayed on a Botel. Our host was an awesome dude who took care of us with a couple of beers and some nuts until the rain stopped – then the adventure began: Van Gogh, some coffee shops, and those amazing Argentinian ribs (those of you who have been with me before will know how tasty they are). No Amsterdam experience is complete without a tour of the red-light district, but this time we decided to combine it with a bar-crawl.

On our last day, in true holiday style, we cycled to the Heineken brewery to enjoy a fantastic tour and a couple of drinks before lunchtime. We bought some gifts for our lovely ladies and off we were to start our new placement on the very next day. Not enough time to recover, for sure, but ‘Amsterdam 4’ goes down as another unforgettable experience.

photos to follow (Tom if you read this, please send me some…)

World Travel Market and living on my own.

Three weeks have passed at my latest placement, and for the next two I will be without my lovely girlfriend; for the first time alone in a very long time.

Sometimes I stop to think, if time was speeding up, how will I know? It’s impossible to stand aside and observe it; but I really feel like my life is just sweeping in and out, uncontrollably accelerating. Like a table cloth pulled out from under a laid out table, will everything remaining unchanged, or will I manage to break a few cups and saucers along the way?

Last week I was invited to go to the World Travel Market, one of the largest travel conventions in Europe. It was a spectacle of Globalisation and cultures blending into one another. In two days I did a tour of our planet, continent by continent; cuisine, booze and freebies were just part of the fun. I also attended two presentations, both in response to an industry-wide consensus that ‘social media’, ‘SEO’ and ‘mobile’ are no longer just buzz words. They are the new source of competitive advantage that will pay dividends to the early movers, and leave those that wait too long ruing their decision to do so.

I cam home to an empty house, and have spent the whole weekend out and about. A bar crawl, night in a wonderful city centre hotel (as part of my Expotel FAM trip – more about this in my next blog post), a poker night, shopping, dinner at a friends place… I somehow tried to avoid being home all weekend. Despite my efforts, here I am on a Sunday night, blogging in the most wonderful silence I have experience in a long while. Despite my initial aversion to being alone, I now think the next two weeks will be a great opportunity to think about my dissertation, get back into an exercise routine and work my ass off on both work and personal projects.

Personal development seems to always be, unfortunately, that one thing we only do if we have the spare time for it:

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Wayne Dyer