Airports are smart.  They know you have to be there for hours on end and you will get thirsty, hungry and bored.  They want you to indulge them for their $25 cheeseburgers and $15 magazines.  Well, not this girl.  Even when I budget to have plenty for the airport, it just sort of angers me that if I really need water, I have to pay $5 for a bottle that would only cost $.50 at a store.  So, here are a few tricks I’ve learned to save some $.

Pack breakfast.  I travel on a lot of early morning flights, so I usually always need coffee and some breakfast.  Coffee is expensive, I know, but I can’t bring it through security.  So if it’s 6 a.m., I’m definitely going to be buying some coffee to avoid caffeine headaches.  However, I usually bring a Larabar or banana (or both) with me so I don’t have to spend an additional $7-$10 on breakfast.  

Pack snacks.  I suffer from having the kind of stomach that if it’s empty, I feel nauseous for the entire flight.  I always have snacks with me.  My go-to snacks are high-protein, high-fat nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds are my jam).  They keep me full and satisfied, and also able to resist the smell of fries as I walk past the food court.  It also means you need to buy less food at the airport.

Pack an empty water bottle.  You can use the drinking fountains to fill up once you’re through security.  You can also get water on the flight, so you really just need the water bottle for in between actual flights.  

Don’t splurge on dinner.  Any time I’ve gone to the “fancier” restaurant at the airport, I always regret it.  They’re typically chains, and they’re typically all greasy, microwaved food.  Last time I was at the airport, I just got fast food.  Why?  Because it’s cheaper, and it’s seriously the same quality as that expensive food.  It’s not any better, so why spend an extra $20?  Chili’s and Wendy’s have the same quality of ingredients, and no one can convince me otherwise.  If you’re stuck and have to eat that food, might as well not spend more for the same food.  

If you’re traveling with someone, scam the food system.  I am starting to sound like a cheapskate, but maybe I am.  Instead of spending money on two six inch subs, just get the full foot long and split it with your spouse.  That’s what we did.  We’ve also ordered larges of things and split it.  Portion sizes are out of this world, so save money buy splitting things.

Never pay to check a bag.  This means you will need to pack light, so you can get through security with your one quart-size bag of toiletries.  (But there’s plenty of articles on this blog about packing light… so no excuses here!)  But, if you end up having to check it at the gate, they do it for free anyways.  Why pay $25 (unless you are taking something you can’t in a carry-on, like a bunch of camping equipment) when you can just have them do it for free?  We seem to always be in the last boarding group and have to check anyways, but I’m certainly not going to pay for it ahead of time.  If they can’t fit it, they can eat the cost!

Bring a Kindle or download the Kindle app to use on your smartphone.  There are so many free eBooks and magazines now-adays, don’t buy those $8 magazines in the airport store.  I mean, I used to, because it’s fun… but it’s also expensive.  My local library lets me download tons of magazines for free on digital devices, so why would I pay for it?  Plus, you don’t need to buy a Kindle to use Kindle.  I have one on my phone, I can purchase or download books from Amazon and read directly off my phone.  If you don’t want to do this, you can also be old fashioned and pack a book or magazine to read from home.  I’m sure you’ve been sent a magazine in the mail you haven’t had time to read yet, just bring it with you!

How about you?  Have you found ways to save some $ at the airport?  Comment below!

Nina Thomas

Travel lover and writer

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One comment

  • Abby Walters January 16, 2017 on 10:42 AM Reply

    Simplistic Brilliance!

    All of it. Especially the empty water bottle.

    I have 2 fairly long flights coming up in the next few months. I am going to pack a mean snack game!

    The “Don’t Splurge on Dinner” tip kinda blew my mind. I never thought about it like that… most restaurants recycle the same ingredients. Hmmmm. Makes sense. And everything really does taste the same. Although I will say that I do enjoy the few airports that are becoming diverse is healthy food offerings. I had an delightful experience at a pressed juice shop in JFK. I’d absolutely pay $8 for a green juice in transit (paired with some cashews that I packed!!!)