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How to avoid spending money at the airport

After you’ve accounted for the flight, accommodation, food, and entertainment costs, you might think you’ve budgeted for your entire vacation, right? Nope. You could end up blowing your budget before you even get on that plane. ]

Airports are a trap, seemingly forcing you to spend your hard-earned money, even when you don’t want to. You might be stuck there for hours waiting for a flight, and when you’re hungry or thirsty after a long day of travelling, everything always looks delicious. Everything that is, except the price tag. And it’s not just the cost of food. There are plenty of ways airports try to suck money out of you.

The next time you have a flight to catch, here’s how you can avoid spending money at the airport.

Bring your own water

Staying hydrated is extremely important when you’re traveling, but buying pricey bottled water can bust anybody’s budget. Even though you can’t bring water through security, you can bring a bottle. Filling up at a drinking fountain is completely safe in Canada, the United States, and most of Europe, but be sure to do some research to make sure the water you’re filing up with is safe. My favourite water bottle is the flexible Platy Soft Bottle – which will fit inside any purse or bag.

Pack something to read

When you have hours to wait for a flight, those magazines and book stands look incredibly tempting. It’s just $5, right?  No big deal. But those $5 purchases can add up. Especially when you start to think about the long flight you have ahead of you. One magazine won’t keep you entertained for an 8 hour flight! Bring a pack of playing cards, load up your iPad or tablet with magazines or books, put a new game on your iPhone, or pack a book from your shelf at home.

Exchange your money elsewhere

It’s common knowledge that currency exchange houses at airports usually offer incredibly low exchange rates. Yet, we often forget to sort out our spending money before we head out to the airport, and we end up buying at the airport for the convenience. Check the exchange rates and fees with your bank – it will almost always be cheaper to take money out of the ATM at the airport that you land at.

TIP: to reduce exchange fees, instead of taking out small amounts of money, take out larger sums less often.

Double check airline baggage restrictions

The last thing you want is to be dinged up to $100 for overweight or oversized baggage, so double check airline baggage restrictions, then weigh and measure your bag before you head to the airport. If at all possible, try to pack as light as you can and only bring a carry-on.

Avoid paying for WIFI

Some airports offer free WIFI connections, but many will require you to enter your credit card information and pay a small fee. Don’t bother paying for WIFI – especially if you’re on vacation. Unless you need the internet for work, take the opportunity to turn your smartphone off – and relax!

Don’t buy souvenirs

With duty free stores and souvenir shops, many airports are starting to resemble shopping malls. If you must buy souvenirs on your trip, make sure to buy everything before you get to the airport.

Bring your own headphones

Some airlines will charge a small fee to rent or buy headphones to watch movies or listen to music on their channels – avoid spending money by bringing your own earbuds from home. They take up so little space, and you’ll appreciate having them to drown out the screaming toddler sitting behind you.

Take transit

Don’t be afraid to take public transit to and from the airport – it’s a lot cheaper than taking a shuttle or a taxi – and it’s usually quite simple. Head to the official website of the airport you are flying to and figure out your route.

What other was can you avoid spending at the airport?


Krystal Yee

Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.