10 Easy Ways to Save Money at the Airport
Airports inflate prices on just about everything. Unprepared travelers can waste a hefty chunk of their vacation fund even before boarding their plane. By simply making a few adjustments, you can learn how to save money, up to hundreds of dollars, at the airport. Check out these tips:
1. Review the Banned List
Before packing, review TSA’s permitted and prohibited items list. You do not want to mistakenly pack your luxury shampoo only to have it thrown away before boarding. Replacing these items when you return could amass unnecessary expenses.
Savings = vary
2. Bring A Water Bottle
A filled water bottle will not make it within 10 feet of TSA security; however, an empty one is hardly noticed. By packing an empty water bottle, you can fill it at the nearest fountain past security and save on outrageous drink prices.
Savings = $3 per Smart Water
3. Pack Snacks
Airport food courts charge a premium for a sandwich simply because they can. Demand for food is high and your options past TSA security are slim, considering you cannot leave the airport without your plane. Few airlines offer complimentary inflight snacks anymore. Even if you opt for the cheapest option, the tiny portion will leave you wanting more. To avoid purchasing highly-priced airport snacks, pack a stash of TSA-friendly snacks.
Savings = $12 per lunch combo; $7 per snack (inflight)
4. Prepare for Minor Ails
Think ahead. If you don’t, you might kick yourself for re-buying something sitting in your medicine cabinet. To avoid this unfortunate circumstance, compile a tiny kit of toiletries and cosmetics you may need. Here are a few items to consider:
- Feminine Products
- Nail Clippers
- Hand Sanitizer (less than 3.4 oz.)
Savings = vary
Flying with all your necessities in a carry-on is the smartest way to convene the airport. It will save you time, foregoing the never-ending wait at checked bag services. Packing tighter will also save you tons of cash by eliminating fees associated with checked baggage. Here’s how to most effectively pack a carry-on.
Savings = $25 for first bag, $35 for second bag, $100 for third or more
6. Weigh Your Luggage
Some airlines let you check the first bag for free–but few. If you must check your luggage, weigh it beforehand. If your bag weighs more than the standard weight (usually 50 pounds) watch out. That’s a major dent to your wallet.
Bonus: Traveling pros pack their checked baggage well underweight to save room for souvenirs, ensuring to stay within the weight restrictions for the flight home.
Savings = $100 – 200 per bag
7. Find a Ride
Even if you plan to park your vehicle in an economy lot, space is limited and self-serviced. If you find a spot, the airport still charges exorbitant fees each day, which rack up quickly. Instead, ask a friend to drop you off at the airport. If this does not work, you can still save by booking a ride with Uber or Lyft.
Savings = $30-50 per day
8. Dodge WiFi Charges
Many airports charge for faster WiFi, but most also provide a free version, even if it logs you off every 30 minutes. To save a few bucks, stick to the free WiFi or switch to your data while waiting to board. Use your mobile hotspot. With this access, download a few episodes to watch mid-air or save any materials you need to work during the flight. Then you can also avoid the pesky costs of inflight WiFi.
Savings = vary with time restrictions
9. Forego the Souvenirs
Although tempting to purchase last-minute souvenirs, resist the urge. Airports upcharge for touristy knick-knacks you can find at any surrounding store for a more reasonable price. You can save by souvenir shopping before arriving at the airport.
Savings = vary
10. Avoid Exchanging Currency
Airports dramatically upcharge for servicing foreign currency exchanges. To avoid these fees, use an ATM outside the airport. Although ATMs still charge fees, they will be lower charges. If simply in need of domestic cash, opt for cash back on a debit card transaction during checkout. This service should be available with most businesses within the airport.
Savings = 16% – 27% per exchange
With a little extra planning, you can save hundreds of dollars from your next airport visit. What money saving tips have you discovered at the airport? Frequent flyers need to stick together. Share your wisdom in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter.
**Disclaimer: Prices are calculated as averages and meant to emphasize possible savings.