Airports are an unfortunate necessity for many trips, for the obvious reasons given. But it can be a real drain on your travel budget – Avoid that with these 5 quick and easy tips.
The one thing that frustrates me the most about the airport experience is the inability to bring a drink with you through security. (I don’t like having to carry only mini shampoos and contact lens cleaner either, but we’ll save that for another day.) Despite my best efforts, I don’t think I’ll be able to influence the rules any time soon, so plan B is to bring a water bottle and fill up at the airport. Sadly, most, but not all, airports have water fountains. Who builds an airport without a water fountain?
A nice, reusable bottle costs almost the same as a bottle of overpriced water at the airport café, and your savings continue as you can then bring water along with you each day on the trip. I use a plastic bottle because I don’t like drinking out of the metal ones, but either material works great and travels well – just remember not to fill up until after security!
I will give the majority of airports credit – they’re improving their food options drastically. 10 years ago there wasn’t much beyond salty packaged goods and greasy pizza/burger-type food – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I like to fly on a settled stomach. That’s why I always make a shopping run to pick up snacks for my carry-on backpack. Potato chips are my weakness, but they don’t travel very well, so I tend to go with items that are not bulky and don’t crush as easily: nuts, pretzels, chocolate (80% cacao please), dried fruits. It’s so much cheaper at the store, and you don’t have to rush around the airport before boarding.
In my recent post about checking in online, I mentioned that some airlines actually give you a wee discount for checking in online and making purchases, like those pesky checked luggage fees. If you’re planning on buying on-board services like digital film players or meals, the same logic applies. Even if it’s a fiver, that’s a beer on arrival at the hotel, right?
Getting to/from some airports can be the most expensive part; one time I didn’t plan ahead for my Heathrow flight, ended up having to take a taxi from inner London, and not only did I get stuck in apocalyptic traffic and nearly miss my flight, I also paid dearly for the privilege. The experience was a reminder to always ensure I know my options; sometimes public transport is more reliable than a taxi in traffic, and sometimes the options are more limited. Check out Sunshine’s airport transfer site for an additional resource.
Lots of retail establishments are getting in on the social media game, offering discounts and freebies for patrons who offer to check in on social media networks such as FourSquare or Facebook. The practice is more widespread in tech-friendly towns, such as Austin Texas, but I’ve found specials pop up in unusual places such as Maui, Hawaii. These are hard to look up in advance (though a quick check of Google is never a bad thing); have your smartphone out and scan for deals once you’re through security.
True Story: Was having beers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and we asked the waiter if there was a Foursquare special for checking in. He’d never heard of it, and when we explained and showed him our check-ins, he brought out a massive cheese plate as a thank you – on the house.
What are your tips for saving at the airport?
Photo by joiseyshowaa
Posted : Monday, September 17th, 2012 at 10:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.