As if your airline tickets weren't expensive enough, the airport is absolutely terrible for your wallet. Hungry for a slice of pizza? That'll cost you $7.50. Want to bring your own drinks for the kids? Sorry, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) says that you can't bring more than a few ounces of liquid on the plane. (Airplane travel used to come with perks. Learn more in 7 Air Travel Perks That Used To Be Free.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
While you wait for your flight, you're surrounded by cafes, magazines, souvenirs, and beautiful shops that are screaming your name. It's tough to resist, but you absolutely should - airport shopping is less than cost-effective. Here are six tips to help you save:
1. Don't Buy the Food
To the best extent possible, eat your meals before and after you're at the airport. Try to avoid snacking because at the airport, a $3.00 coffee cup will cost $5+, and a $3 slice of pizza will cost at least double. If you can, bring your own food. Make sure that it's non-liquid, and stay up to date with the TSA's safety regulations to make sure that food is okay. For snacks, you could bring nuts and crackers. You could also bring instant soups and cereals.
2. Bring Your Own Entertainment
When you're waiting for a flight, magazine and bookstores are incredibly tempting. Before you leave for a long trip, plane entertainment is usually at the bottom of your packing list, and then once you get to the airport, you're bored out of your mind. Avoid this dilemma, and remember to bring a few books and magazines for everyone. That way, you won't be wasting money at the magazine stand. If you have an iPad or tablet, put as many magazines as you can on the device. You'll be plenty entertained for your flight.
3. Don't Pay for WiFi
Especially if you're on vacation, take the opportunity to get unplugged. Your email can wait, or if you absolutely need to, check it on your smartphone. If you're a regular traveler with many airport options, consider visiting the airports with free WiFi. Unless you need the Internet to work, you should be able to forego Internet for the time being. (If you're out and about and need to be online, make sure you've checked out 7 Places To Find Free WiFi.)
4. Always, Always, Always Pack Lightly
Weigh your check-in bags at home to make sure that they fit within the weight restrictions. Otherwise, you may be surprised with a fee. Leave room in your bags and carry-ons for souvenirs and shopping. No matter where you're going, you never know, and you don't want to need to invest in a new bag. (Find out more ways to keep your travel costs low in Best Frequent Flyer Credit Cards For (Almost) Free Travel.)
5. Buy Souvenirs Somewhere Else
If you absolutely need to buy souvenirs on your trip, make sure that you take care of everything that you need before you go to the airport. Make a list of who needs what presents before you actually go on vacation, and make sure that you designate enough time for shopping. For small souvenirs, you may be able to find what you need at a local drugstore.
6. Bring an Empty Water Bottle
While you can't bring water, you can bring a bottle. Bring enough for the entire family to stay hydrated. If you're traveling in the United States, water from the drinking fountain is completely safe; however, you may want to do some research to avoid any risks when traveling abroad. Instead of buying pricey water bottles and drinks, stay hydrated for free.
The Bottom Line
Control your impulses and plan ahead stay as practical as possible when you visit the airport for your next trip. Airfare is expensive enough, so don't waste your money on more than you need.