How to Avoid Overspending at the Airport

When airports first allowed shopping, it was a great way to kill time and maybe pick up something you forgot to take with you. However, items purchased at the airport tend to be a little pricier than the same items at a regular store.
According to a Smarter Travel article, there are several things that should never be purchased at the airport. A little research and some planning can save you serious cash on things like a bottle of water, food, souvenirs, neck pillows and more. Here are a few things you should definitely avoid.
First off, avoid duty-free shops. Cigarettes might be cheaper if you live in a state with high taxes, but luxury items and alcohol are rarely a deal. You’re better off shopping online or at home.
If you need currency in a foreign country, use an ATM. Currency exchange desks in airports are notorious for high fees, so you may want to forgo the convenience and save some money. It’s also a great idea to check with your bank for transaction fees if you’re traveling internationally.
Thirsty? Want a bottle of water? What is free from a tap can cost several dollars at the airport. Why not save yourself a few bucks and fill up a water bottle you carried with you into the airport (empty, of course). However, be sure to research whether or not the tap water in the area is safe to drink beforehand — some countries have water quality issues that can cause serious diarrhea and other gastrointestinal ailments.
Want some souvenirs? The airport is not the place to purchase them if you want to save money. Known for marking up prices, these vendors also lack imagination with inventory, choosing to offer common, unoriginal items. Local artisans, however, provide unique pieces that represent the location. Do some shopping while you’re traveling and then pack the items and carry them home.
Neck pillows are sold in many places, not just an airport. Granted, you may not think about it until you’re racing through terminals on your way to your gate, but rest assured, those idyllic wrap-around neck pillows can be purchased in stores and online for a lot less. You might even find them on sale!
Higher prices for food at airports doesn’t come as a shock to most people. Did you know that costs can vary by terminals, too? The reason is that operating expenses are typically higher at airports than on the streets. You can avoid paying sky-high prices by brown-bagging it and bringing food from home. If you’re in a bind, get some fruit at the airport which will be more economical.
You may also find yourself having to pay for wifi at some airports these days. Consider sitting near the entrance of the flyers club locations and you might be able to snag their free wifi. Starbucks also offers free wifi at city locations, so it might also offer it at the airport.
Reading your favorite magazine might cost a pretty penny while abroad, so it might be best to read it online or bring it along as imported magazines from the U.S. can sell for well over the recommended suggested price list at overseas airports, thanks to taxes and shipping costs. Worse yet, it might be an outdated issue.
How do you avoid overspending at the airport? What are some of the things you’ve fallen victim to? Share your stories and suggestions on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: Vradwiki (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)