Spending money while traveling is much too easy, especially at the airport. That's why it's essential to be prepared with money-saving airport hacks to prevent you from overspending. Have you ever traveled through an airport, realized you forgot something (or were super hungry) and got mad about the price you had to pay for the item you purchased? Well, I've been there, done that.
Airports are a money pit by design. You are forced to pay a premium price on items because you don't have much of a choice if you are waiting for a flight. Retailers capitalize on that fact by charging higher than usual prices for everyday items.
Paying a premium price for food and other items at the airport is a really easy way to waste money that could otherwise be put to better use. For instance, towards your savings or paying down your debt (yup, those small amounts add up).
Avoid money traps with these essential airport hacks!
There are many simple airport tips you can do to stop wasting money and become a frugal traveler. Check out these easy airport hacks to save money on your next trip.
1. Create a travel checklist specifically for the airport
The simplest airport hack to help save money is to make a checklist. When people make travel checklists, they are usually for things that go in their suitcase that they don't want to forget. However, it's also a good idea to make a checklist for your hand luggage too. This list includes things you know you'll need while you are at the airport before your departure, during a layover, or upon your arrival.
A few examples of things that could go on your list include:
- A variety of dry snacks
- Travel electronics e.g. headphones, iPad, etc
- Other entertainment e.g. a great book or magazine
- Toiletries e.g. toothbrush and toothpaste (if you are traveling long distance), wipes, travel moisturizer, and hand sanitizer
- A pen and notebook
2. Create a fixed budget for meals
It's super easy to get swayed by all the different food options at the airport. However, if you know you'll most likely be getting something to eat at the airport, then set a fixed budget and let the amount you have budgeted determine what you can buy to eat.
Also, since airports have many chain restaurants, see what coupons you can find before your trip to use at a chain restaurant in the airport. This can save you the overpriced difference in the cost of your food.
To see what restaurants the airport and terminal you are traveling through has, take a look at the airport directory online in advance of your trip. Creating a budget for your meals is a savvy airport hack that will save big bucks.
3. Pack an empty water bottle
Bottled water is one major item that is excessively overpriced at airports. They charge 2 to 3 times more than the average cost for a bottle of water. An easy airport tip to help save money is to pack an empty water bottle (it must be empty to pass through security) then refill it at the various water fountains in the airport or while you are on the plane.
Most airlines won't hand out entire bottles of water, but it's pretty easy to pour the glass of water you are given on your flight into a water bottle and then ask for more!
4. Look for free WiFi first
Surfing the internet can be a great way to kill time when you are waiting for a flight but paying for wifi at the airport is another big money pit. Most airports offer free wifi but with a catch - it's either for a limited amount of time (e.g., 30 minutes at a time), or you'll get access to the internet at a slower speed.
This approach is used to up-sell people into paying for "unlimited" and "faster" wifi, but unless you are working on something that requires a super-fast internet speed, then the free option should work just fine.
Refreshing the wifi to get additional time added only takes a couple of minutes, and you can definitely survive the few seconds difference between page loads on the free wifi vs. the paid version.
If you can't get free WiFi through the airport itself, try checking with the free lounges, coffee shops, or restaurants. Many have their own free WiFi set up. Use this easy airport hack to save money on WiFi.
5. Exchange international currency before you get to the airport
Currency exchange is another thing that can cost a lot of money at the airport. Research online or call your local bank to compare foreign currency exchange costs. It may be cheaper to purchase your currency from the bank instead of at the airport. You might need to order it a couple of days in advance, but this airport tip will save you some money if you plan ahead.
6. Avoid shopping
Don't go shopping in the airport. Items are much more expensive, and you most likely will blow your vacation budget. Pack items such as earbuds or headphones, so you aren't tempted to purchase them during a layover. Remember to pack a book or magazines for something to do besides shopping.
Purchase gifts and other items at your destination to avoid overspending. It's best to avoid going into shops altogether if you can. This airport hack will prevent the temptation of impulse purchases.
7. Skip the bar
Drinking is expensive but even worse at an airport bar. High-priced alcohol and time to kill is the worst combination for your finances. Like shopping, bars should be avoided to stop you from spending your hard-earned cash on overpriced drinks.
If you are simply burnt out on drinking water, then opt for a soda or sparkling water instead of a cocktail. Avoiding bars is a huge money-saving airport hack.
Save a bundle with these airport hacks
Saving money wherever possible while traveling will keep you from busting your budget. These items add up to a pretty significant amount, and that's money that could be put back into your next vacation fund.
Learning how to travel on a budget keeps you from wasting money and makes it possible to travel more often because you have more money to do so. Use these thrifty airport tips for your next vacation and see how much money you save!