Five frugal things when flying (22 June)

Bright yellow trumpet flower against a blue sky, taken in my mother's garden in Madeira

Trumpet flower in my mother’s garden in Madeira


Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. My step-dad is very ill, so my sister and I dashed over to Madeira to see him in hospital and support our mother. Discussed in the morning, booked tickets booked in the afternoon flew the next day.

The visit made me very grateful for a lot of things, not least my own health, support from family, friends and the children’s school, and the ability to work wherever I have a laptop and internet access.

So this week’s five frugal things are all based around travel:


Picture from the aeroplane on the way to Madeira, with an island and bright blue sea

Rocks on the way to Madeira

Compared flight prices

If you’re booking flights at the last minute, there aren’t too many options to cut the cost.

I still tried a few online comparison sites though, including Skyscanner, Kayak and Expedia. I like Expedia, because it has obvious links to the cost of checking in baggage. I’ve resigned myself to paying to put baggage in the hold since liquid controls were introduced for carry on bags.

I wear reusable contact lenses, the fluid comes in 360ml bottles, and I use 30ml each day. I suspect decanting cleaning fluid into 100ml containers wouldn’t keep it sterile and would only last for 3 days anyway. I’m also reluctant to risk seeing if the brand I use is actually stocked by shops in the depature lounge. So – checked in baggage, here I come.

Somewhat to my surprise, British Airways had competitive prices at sane times. In the end, I booked direct through the BA website to minimise possible problems. Frustratingly, BA is actually pretty generous with carry on bags – you can take a laptop bag and a little suitcase, so if it wasn’t for my contact lens fluid I probably could have travelled without checking anything in.

Bought food before boarding

The days of freebie food on planes seem long gone, for those of us flying in economy. Farewell, trays with strangely tasteless airline meals. Nowadays I prefer not to be held to ransom by over-priced sandwiches in mid air. Ideal world, I’d have taken a packed lunch, but I only had time to grab a satsuma and apple before leaving. So after dumping my suitcase, I doubled back to the shops in Gatwick near the trains, and bought a sandwich from Boots.

Refilled a water bottle in the departure lounge

I’m someone who almost always carries a water bottle when out and about – another reason to resent liquid controls at airport security.

Nowadays my approach is to drink the contents before hitting security, and then fill up again afterwards, at water fountains in the departure lounge. I don’t even take a fancy bottle – just reuse a 500ml  plastic bottle that previously held water or soft drinks. On our return trip, when I couldn’t find drinking water after security, I shamelessly asked someone at a cafe counter to refill it for me.

Bought my Christmas/birthday handbag at the airport

Buying a handbag is not a frugal thing. And when I buy handbags, even less so. They seem to be one of my blind spots. I’ve switched to own-brand for virtually everything else, but on the rare occasions I buy a new bag, I get long-lasting plain leather versions from Longchamp.

Anyway, the zip on my trusty black shoulder bag finally gave up the ghost. I bought it to celebrate my son being born, so it had lasted for more than eight years. My husband said he’d buy me a replacement for Christmas (couldn’t find one I liked) then birthday (couldn’t find one I liked) but then the helpful shop assistant in Gatwick departure lounge produced one from the basement. Black leather, straps long enough to carry on my shoulder, big enough to take A4, external pocket for my phone, key chain on a strap, couple of internal pockets and no tassels, chains, over-sized logos or weird coloured lining. Perfect.

Best of all, it was tax-free at the airport and they knocked a bit more off as it was an older model, saving 30%.

Carried a driving licence for ID

When I’m abroad, I tend to carry ID even if I don’t while in England. Top tip? Cart around a photocard driving licence, rather than a passport. If it gets lost or nicked, a driving licence is easier and cheaper to replace. I’m still bracing myself to renew my daughter’s passport. Even if you apply online, it still costs £49 for a child’s passport, and a whopping £75.50 to get an adult passport (full details of passport fees here). In contrast, it only costs £20 to replace a lost or stolen driving licence.


Picture of Adnams Copper House Dry Gin gift pack with 2 glasses

Competition ends tomorrow!

Last chance to win gin!

Just a reminder if you haven’t entered my giveaway for a bottle of Adnams fabulous Copper House Dry Gin, which is part of East of England Co-op’s Sourced Locally range. The competition closes at midnight on Saturday (23 June), so nip on down to the end of this post for your chance to win a gift pack including two beautiful glasses. Cheers!


Now over to you – any top tips to save money on flights and in airports? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five fabulously frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

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  1. Deborah Press
    22nd June 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Really enjoyed this post

  2. Alice Strang
    22nd June 2018 / 1:46 pm

    My bus pass includes travel on edinburgh’s airport buses and trams so I didn’t have to spend extra money getting to and from the airport

  3. eloise at
    22nd June 2018 / 10:30 pm

    Madeira is beautiful – how lovely for you to have family there, but sorry to hear that this latest visit was for such a sad reason.
    We don’t fly very often but airport food is scandalously expensive. I always take drinks with me.

  4. 23rd June 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Sorry to hear your stepdad is poorly – great that you were able to get over there so quickly x

  5. Kate
    24th June 2018 / 4:46 pm

    Never thought about the contact lens solutions when travelling! Will need to consider this for my partner when we go in holiday in a few months

    Kate xx

  6. 28th June 2018 / 8:56 pm

    It’s a shame that your trip had to be for a sad reason. You did really well with making the best of a difficult situation and getting some frugal tips out of it for us!

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