You know the story – I’ve been a victim myself.  You set a strict budget for your holiday, and by the time you get to your hotel/resort/destination, you look and realise that you’ve blown through a good chunk of your cash already.  How’d that happen?

Airports.  They are the bane of existence for many travellers (just look in Google for airport complains or bad airports – there is no shortage of filler there), and airports that people find enjoyable and relaxing are few and far between.  But to me, many airports take advantage of their locked audience to fleece them of their hard earned coins, before they even get where they are going.  Here are the four ways you might be getting fleeced, and how to avoid it.


Food Court I

I’ve never understood how airport food can be so expensive and so disgusting all at the same time.   Newer airports are getting away from the “fat and sodium” fast food crowd and a little closer to healthy options and more choice, but still, I find my options usually pretty miserable, no matter where I am.

One meal for a family of four in an airport can use up an entire day’s budget, so avoid it if you can.  If your flight is delayed, you can’t really help it, but I’d suggest always trying to eat before you go to the airport if you can.  In the rush of getting ready and getting out the door, it’s easy to forget, but try and remember if you can.  At least bring a few snacks to keep the hunger pains away until you can get somewhere where you aren’t the captive audience.

Currency Exchange

Singapore Changi Airport Budget Terminal

Repeat after me:  I will never use the currency exchange at the airport.  Never.  Ever.

I’m not sure why the currency exchange companies do this, but their rates at the airport are often 2-5% lower – in their favour, not yours.  That’s a pretty big amount of money, even on a small transaction.  What’s even more confusing is at airports with more than one currency exchange booth, the rates are different – even when the same company has a monopoly in the airport.

What I do is I go to the bank before I travel and get some cash to ensure no hassles until I get to my destination, and then I use my bank card to get cash out of a machine.   The best option might depend on your bank; you might also want to look at the currency exchange in your neighbourhood.  Just never go to the one at the airport.  Ever.

Airport Transfer

Taxi and Bus Sign JetBlue T5 Terminal

Another way to lose cash fast is with your airport transfer.  There’s almost always more than one way to get from point A to point B, and every city is different, so I suggest always checking this out in advance before you leave.  Otherwise, you’ll likely end up in a taxi, which is usually the most expensive option.

If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest you check out Airport Transfers – it shows you the best rates for shared transport, which I find usually is the best value option.  Public transport is always cheap, but it can be tough with luggage and not knowing where you are going.

Duty Free

Duty Free @ Schipol Airport

Last but not least is the duty free shop.  I’m not going to say that duty free doesn’t have good deals – sometimes they do, and sometimes you can still get it cheaper in your local shop.  The problem though is that duty free mostly carries your high end goods and products.  It’s all presented in a sexy marketing package that makes you feel like you deserve that extra-expensive shampoo or that over-the-top bottle of whisky.

I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy.  I’m just going to suggest before you go on a bonanza blockbuster shopping spree in the airport “mall,” ask yourself: do I really need any of this stuff?

Image Credits: aaron-photoalbum, kathika, binderdonedat, [email protected]

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 at 12:57
Category : Holiday Tips
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