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How To Save Money When Traveling In Airports

By Chris Bibey

airport expensesAs you walk through any airport, you are going to see more than people, bags, and planes. You are going to be presented with the opportunity to take in and purchase everything from food to magazines to clothes and much more. How are you ever going to make it through the “airport mall” without spending any money? Retailers at malls prey on the fact that their goods and services are convenient, so they jack the price up just like a theme park. But with a little planning, you don’t have to spend any money in the airport. Here are three tips that you should keep in mind if you know you will be visiting an airport in the near future:

1. Avoid airport food. This holds true no matter if you are buying a bag of chips at a small news stores or eating a full meal at a restaurant. I learned this the hard way on my way to and from Florida a couple weeks ago. During my layover, both ways, I was sucked in and ended up spending entirely too much on food.

On the way to Florida, I purchased a candy bar, pretzels, and a bottle of water for a whopping sum of $6 and some change. My return home was even worse. I stopped at Chili’s for a quick bite. Soon after sitting down I realized what I was in for. I ordered a chicken salad and a soda. More than $15 later I was on my way to the terminal.

2. Bring your own snacks. Why did I end up spending so much money on airport food? Simply put, I did not have any snacks with me. Due to increased security, this is much more difficult than it was in year’s past. That being said, it is not impossible. While you will be able to get food through security, don’t expect to take beverages.

3. Food isn’t the only expense that you can encounter in an airport. Have you ever stopped at one of the many stores? During my trip, I saw everything from jewelry stores to fine clothing shops and much more. Fortunately, I am better at avoiding these establishments than those that sell food. My rule of thumb is simple: if you don’t go into the stores, you will never be tempted to make a purchase.

It costs enough money to buy a plane ticket and travel to another part of the world. The last thing you want to do is waste money at the airport on things that you simply don’t need.

(photo credit: joiseyshowaa)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • http://personalfinancejourney.com Lakita (PFJourney)

    I still can’t understand how jewelry stores survive in airports. Are there that many procrastinators? Maybe that is too large a generalization, but I can’t rationalize any other reason people would buy jewelry at an airport. If I’m wrong, someone please enlighten me…whenever I pass an airport jeweler I wonder about this!

    • Winston

      Well obviously there are people who buy jewelry at the airport or else there wouldn’t be any jewelry stores. I know that jewelries have very high mark-ups, and I assume the mark-ups are even higher at the airport. So they only need couple people to buy few pieces of jewelry to sustain their business. And since most of the time, travelers will be waiting for their plane when they are inside the airport, some of them are bound to engage in arbitrary spendings.

  • http://www.maketodaypayday.co.uk Kate

    I agree about staying out of the stores, but do find it impossible not to spend money on food while at the airport, especially if you have a layover. It is crazy to me the things I see people buying, I always make sure I have something sweet and some gum before I go through security and plan on having a little bit of cash to buy some water at the store.

  • Sandy

    I’m sure we all remember being able to bring a bottle of water through security… on a recent conference trip, though, my eyes were opened to something I hadn’t thought of before:

    The conference gave out freebie reusable water bottles that were actually pretty spiffy. I wanted to bring it home with me, so I emptied it and put it in my carry-on. While waiting for the plane, it occurs to me for the very first time – fill up the empty bottle at a water fountain (duh)! I’ve done it this way ever since.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    I’ve been prone to buying meals at airports myself, but if I have a layover and it isn’t worth the time to leave the airport, there isn’t much else to do. A man’s gotta eat…overpriced junk. I don’t like it, but it is a rare occurence. Other than food, I’ve only spent money on a last-minute book for the flight. In the future, I’ll just bring my iPhone and read/listen to books. Less bulk and the price is right.

  • http://genywealth.com/ RJ Weiss

    Great tips.

    I usually bring an empty water bottle from home and fill it up using a drinking fountain once I’m passed security.

  • gina

    Also remember to bring something to keep you occupied. Many a time I have thought that I had enough reading material, only to be held up in the airport for hours. Take your ipod, bring extra books from the library-whatever to avoid having to spend extra money!

  • http://www.yourfinances101.com/blog David/yourfinances101

    Bring your own food, buy souvenirs elsewhere. Basically, don’t buy anything there unless you absolutely have to

  • Karmella

    I am completely guilty of buying stuff in the airport – I am great about packing snacks, but I often pick up a souvenir or a book, and somehow I find myself buying stuff at the airport Body Shop.

  • Emily D.

    I’m a fan of bringing your own water bottle and snacks. However, I’ve had to learn not to beat myself up over purchasing overpriced food in the airport. It’s better to reach your destination without passing out than saving a few bucks :)

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    Forgot to mention, I love the idea of bringing on an empty water bottle and filling it up at the airport. Saves money, time, and the environment.

  • Winston

    I always make sure I eat something before I go to the airport. Knowing the ridiculous mark-ups, I try not to buy anything from the airport stores.

  • Kringlevillaluz

    In November 2013 I will go back to my country. I’m really excited about it. Almost ten years that I will not go back to my country i really miss my country this i will do if get the airport ,I will buy a gift card. So i will not spent any money.

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