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How do you pack lighter for Ryanair?

I like the idea of using the cheap inter-European airlines for travel within the continent but cannot figure out how to meet their carryon restrictions without extra cost. My wife and I already limit ourselves to carryon for international flights, but, once we arrive, there is no way we could cut back enough to meet the size limits of Ryanair, etc. How do you do it?

Posted by
21327 posts

You don't. It is part of their game. A huge portion of their income comes for the extra fees. About the only way to adjust is to carry an extra bag and put your extra items in it and check it. At least that way you are only paying for one checked bag.

Posted by
2876 posts

You have to follow their carryon rules. With Ryanair, if your carryon weighs more than their 10-Kg limit, or if its dimensions are too big, they can refuse it at the boarding gate and charge you a fee of 40€, which is more than they charge for one checked bag. (Of course your checked bag has to meet their weight restrictions too, or else you'll be hit with their excess weight fees, which are hefty.) My experience with Ryanair is that their actual enforcement of these rules is spotty, but of course you have to assume that on your flight they're going to be strict.

Posted by
2799 posts

Those "cheap" intra-Europe airlines are not so cheap when you add up all the extras. And don't forget the extra cost of traveling to and from the airpport out in the boonies where they may have landed you. As for the carry-0n rules, I have lost count of all the irate posts I've seen on Tripadvisor from people who got hit with that 40-GBP fee for checking at the gate.

Posted by
9363 posts

I just bite the bullet and pay for a checked bag when I book my ticket. That's a lot cheaper than playing the odds that it won't be checked and ending up having to gate-check at the last minute. If the trip doesn't warrant a heavy enough bag to need checking, I just don't check it even if I had paid to do so.

Posted by
18055 posts

European airlines, like Lufthansa and Swiss Air, have the same carry on size limitations (21.65" x 15.75" x 7.87") for international flights as does RyanAir. US airlines and some European airlines, like Air France, are similar in size. RyanAir's 10 kg (22 lb) limit is more generous than that (8kg) of Lufthansa. So, if you are already limiting yourselves, it shouldn't be much harder to meet the RyanAir restrictions. I would suggest several things:
1) Get as light a bag as possible consistant with allowable volumes. That means no wheels. My convertible Campmor Essential Carryon weighs 1.8#. I find that, even with mostly clothing, I reach the weight limit before I reach the volume limit. 2) Start with zero weight packing and only add the things you REALLY have to have. You can live for a few weeks without a hair dryer, hair curler, or hair dryer. I learned to shave with a disposable razor to save the 1# weight of my rechargeable. Wash out clothes as you go. In 2000, shortly after learning about Rick and his "pack light" philosophy, I went to Europe with a RS convertible bag that weighed 17½#. Since then I have eliminated from my packing list things I can do without, limited myself to a few changes of clothing, and wash every night. My Essential Carryon bag is now half full and conforms to any sizing box, and weighs just over 12# packed. So, it is possible.

Posted by
5459 posts

I too just take the tact of evaluating the cost with a checked bag included. Even my typical packing light would push the limits, plus keep in mind, when they say one carryon, they mean one, no roller bag plus a purse or daybag. Even with the added cost, the total is still usually much less than other options. I do aree with one poster that you also need to take into account travel to the airport, if it works, great, if it does not, there are other options. Myself, I make the airport part of my itinerary. The other strategy I have used is to do a "home base" option, leaving most of my stuff at an apartment, friends house, or even a left luggage place. this way you can easily meet the limits.

Posted by
31318 posts

Roy, I've found that it's fairly easy to pack light for domestic travel, but I have difficulty packing that way for overseas travel. Unless you're able to pack extremely light, the best plan is to check at least one bag. Especially with RyanAir, I would over estimate the weight of the checked bag to allow a bit of a "cushion" with the weight limits, and pay for it at the time of booking. If the agents find your luggage overweight at the time of check-in, you'll be nicked with a hefty charge! When I'm checking budget flights, I usually put RyanAir at the bottom of the list. They often use somewhat "out-of-the-way" airports which require time and money to get to & from. Happy travels!

Posted by
31318 posts

I tend to agree with Jeff. The inconvenient airport locations are usually not where I want to be (ie: Beauvais), and the numerous extra charges mean that they're often not much/any cheaper than other carriers. I'll use RyanAir as a "last resort" but try to use other carriers if possible. I avoided the problem of using RyanAir when leaving Ireland by spending a few days in Belfast and then using EasyJet. The train ride from Dublin to Belfast was easy and very pleasant. It was a great solution! Cheers!

Posted by
11798 posts

The one thing I did differently when flying SAS (stricter than Ryanair carry-on rules) was to buy a scale for my bag. I trial packed and adjusted my pack list to make sure I was within their limits. I think it was Lee who suggested taking your bag to the post office to weigh, great idea. I wish I'd thought of it before I bought a scale that won't get much use. If you stick to the basics, it's really not hard to get your bag under 20 lbs. (even for a four week trip). Start with a light bag and add only clothing items that go together to give you lots of options. Once you have done it once, I doubt you will ever pack heavy again.

Posted by
3580 posts

A special scale is not necessary. I just use my bathroom scale; I weigh myself, weigh myself with bag, subtract the smaller # from the larger #. That's the weight of the bag. If you can't pack to fit Ryanair's carry-on limits, just pay to check it when you order the tickets. Be sure you keep essentials with you on the plane.

Posted by
9363 posts

To sort of counter what Jeff says, sometimes the "out of the way" airports don't really factor in. Ryanair flies in to Dublin - there is only one airport, so no outlying alternative. And in my experience, the smaller airports have sometimes been a benefit because they were exactly where I needed to be. Don't assume that because they use alternative airports in some areas, that it is always a detriment.

Posted by
18055 posts

"sometimes the "out of the way" airports don't really factor in." Look at a list of the 15 busiest airports on the western European continent (I'll include Palma because, although not on the mainland, it is part of spain). They're probably the busiest because that's where people more often want to go. RyanAir uses only three, Madrid, Barcelona, and Palma. The other 12 are not served by RyanAir, and their substitute airport, if it exists, is often hours away without a rail connection.

Posted by
375 posts

People who post on the Helpline seem to love to argue the merits of Ryanair. I have my opinions as well, but with all due respect, the OP's question is about packing light to meet the carryon restrictions of this and other inter-European airlines, not about the locations of the airports. My husband and I manage it by wearing or carrying outside clothing such as jackets and sweaters and putting some items in the pockets, only taking the one pair of shoes that we are wearing, limiting electronic equipment as much as possible, and taking a minimum of toiletries. I reduce my purse to a very small lightweight handbag that can be shoved into the carryon or a jacket pocket until I board. If one of our bags is fuller or heavier than the other one, we shift items, rather than having strictly his and her bags. We are in the fortunate position of living over here, so we take shorter trips within Europe and can use our smallest bags. I think it would be difficult for people traveling from the US on longer trips, but I believe it can be done. I don't care to do a lot of handwashing on my trips, but many people don't mind that.

Posted by
2949 posts

Is it actually Ryanair policy that one carryon bag excludes that bag plus a purse? I haven't flown Ryanair, but I know that GermanWings has stricter rules regarding weight, but I always carry my purse plus carry on bag. My husband uses a messenger bag (a man-purse!) plus his carry on bag. Never been looked at askance. I guess a lot of people have had trouble with carryons on the discount airlines, but I haven't. Of course, I avoid getting the side-eye at check-in by checking-in online and printing my boarding passes. I'm pretty sure my bag has weighed over the 8kg limit several times but no one has forced me to weigh it on GermanWings. However, using the check-in counter with SwissAir, a "normal" airline, we were all forced to check our bags despite them being significantly smaller than what I generally thought of as "maximum carry on size".

Posted by
18055 posts

"Is it actually Ryanair policy that one carryon bag excludes that bag plus a purse?" Yes. RyanAir's carryon policy (www.ryanair.com/en/terms-and-conditions#regulations-cabinbaggage) says, "Strictly one item of cabin baggage per passenger (excluding infants) weighing up to 10kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm is permitted. (handbag, briefcase, laptop, shop purchases, camera etc.) must be carried in your 1 permitted piece of cabin baggage."

Posted by
18055 posts

RyanAir and EasyJet are probably just responding to all the people, as admitted here, who think they circumvent the carryon weight restriction by putting light stuff in their carryon bag and heavy stuff in their handbag, briefcase, or laptop bag. If they put those bags under the seat, it probably doesn't matter, but if they put them in the overhead bin, as well, it's just like putting it in their carryon.

Posted by
2949 posts

So then does the GermanWings policy differ, or do the employees just not care as long as you put your handbag under the seat?

Posted by
638 posts

Sarah-yes. However, lately I've been able to take a flat handbag slung over my body in addition to my backpack. But it's been SMALL, and really only has my passport, money (no wallet) , ID/credit cards and my Kindle in it. Mostly it's been OK, occasionally not. Roy-I've found if I can limit my electronics and toiletries I can do it, but I'm not sure I could do it for a long period of time ie:> 1 week. I did go to Stockholm and Helsinki for a week with Ryanair. It does limit your shopping so you have to shop creatively. Try to limit your toiletries too. I usually wear a pair of pants and sometimes take one more, sometimes not, have 3-4 shirts/sweater or coat, only 1 pair shoes. I wear clothes more than once or wash. I take minimal underwear/socks and wash. I also use a soft sided backpack to save on weight, and my newest trick is to use the mesh backpack, figure it saves a couple ounces!

Posted by
1064 posts

Thanks for all the information. The more I learn about the cheap airlines, the less they appeal to me. For the time being, at least, I will stick with trains and cars.

Posted by
3580 posts

I was in line at the check-in counter for one of the inter-European airlines with strict carry-on rules. The woman in front of me was carrying a rather large, soft, bulky backpack. The clerk told her the pack was too big. The passenger said, "I can make it smaller." She was allowed to carry it onto the plane.

Posted by
10260 posts

Easyjet is not the same as Ryanair. It allows bags with measurements up to: 22.04 in x 17.7 in x 9.8 in. with no published weight limit. You are however, restricted to one bag. But it's not just the discounters. SAS and Lufthansa have even stricter rules. 21.85 x 15 x 7.87 with a maximum weight of 17.6 pounds.

Posted by
18055 posts

Lufthansa (and some others) allow 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, which is 21.65" x 15.75" x 7.87" to be exact. British Air upped their length to 56 cm (22.04) so it's close to US airline's 22" x 14" x 9", probably to accommodate some roll-aboards. 15.75" x 7.87" is very close to the same x-sect area as 14" x 9", so a soft side bag should fit either. As I observed earlier, with Lufthansa's 17.6# weight limit, I find I get to that limit before my bag is full, so the size limit is not a problem for me. If one is flying Lufthansa, or another European airline from the US, they probably already meet the carryon limits for RyanAir, et al. However, some US airlines have no weight limit, others have ridiculously high limits (USAir, 40#). So you could fly over on one of them and not comply with the weight limits for European low cost airlines, or any other airline in Europe, for that matter, when you got there.

Posted by
833 posts

On Ken, Jeff and Nancy's point: I tend to use Ryanair visiting airports where there is only one airport, so the Ryanair is the main one and it doesn't take any longer to get to the city. Thessaloniki, Palermo, Bratislava, Eindhoven. The only time it was an inconvenience was flying out of Frankfurt Hahn. It was a pain, but still much cheaper than using a different airline. And right now I personally value money more than time, given it is not an absolutely unreasonable amount of time. Personally, I just carry a regular school-bag backpack. The size I used in elementary, middle and high school. 95% of the time, Ryanair staff does not check the size or weight of your bag if it is a backpack. (Never happened to my cousin or me, it did happen to my friend coming back from London and she had to check her bag and pay the fee.) I realize that this is not an option for you, you do not have a base in Europe to leave the rest of your luggage or belongings. In that case, I would compare pricing and fly on a "normal" airline, or pay the fee for checked luggage and extra weight on Ryanair.

Posted by
41 posts

I lived in Germany for 3 years and was about an hour and 20 minutes from Hahn so I got pretty good at packing for RyanAir while we were there. I did an 8 day trip to Italy with a 10k bag so it is possible. We flew RyanAir into Milan and then took the train the rest of the time until we flew out of Palermo. I always used a lightweight backpack, used small bottles for my toiletries and kept them to a minimum, left the laptop at home but did bring phone, camera and Kindle, and always wore my heaviest clothing on the plane. Leave the jeans at home...they weigh a ton. If you think you're going to buy a lot of souvenirs try and plan your trip so you buy the majority of your stuff after your last RyanAir flight. You can pack Rick's Hideaway Tote and then either carry that on or check it for your long international flight back when you're allowed more bags and more weight. I've had good luck hiding a small flat purse under my jacket when getting on the flight but anything bulkier than that they make you combine into your checked bag. I actually bought a long leather jacket in May in Italy and "wore" it onto the plane (I really draped it over my arm like I was just carrying my coat for now) and had no problems getting it back. Someone else mentioned putting heavy items in your jacket pocket and that works too. Also, most airports will let you on even if your bag is 10.8k...as long as you keep it under 11 they allow you a tiny bit of overage. Good luck!