Being frugal while traveling gets a lot of airtime. While dodging tourist traps, booking the right accommodations, and eating like a local are all good tips, often times we underestimate the money spent while actually in transit. Airport expenses really add up. When a beer, a magazine, and an uninspiring salad somehow comes out to $30, it’s time we take these expenses into account. Here are five powerful airport hacks that will help you save money while on the move.
Stock Up on Snacks
Really this header should read “Don’t Buy Anything at the Airport,” but we know the Starbucks is hard to avoid. The bottom line is that eating meals or snacking at the airport is one of the easiest ways to lose money while traveling. This is by no means a secret hack, but it’s one that takes discipline. Before your flight, head to a convenience store and stock up on healthy, nutritious snacks that are full of energy. Nuts, dried fruit, seeds, energy bars, and other snacks are sure to be a fraction of the cost outside of the airport. This will have an effect on your wallet, and you’re gut as you can afford to pass on the mid-flight meal.
Don’t Pay for WiFi
Until we arrive at a point in time in which WiFi is deemed a public good, we’re going to suffer through the cat and mouse game of tracking down signals. While many airports offer free WiFi, some do for only a certain period of time, and others have spotty signals.
There are a few ways you can get around WiFi paywalls. If the airport is using a Boingo hotspot, you can use their partner pages to browse to your heart’s content. You can also try adding “?.jpg” at the end of your URL. Additionally, many generous people on Foursquare have posted the passwords to many airport’s WiFi networks. And if all else fails, try resetting your computer’s clock to grab some more time, and consider investing in a portable hotspot.
Stay Away From Airport Currency Exchanges
Under no circumstances should any frequent flyer visit a currency kiosk in an airport. This is a quick way to lose up to 10% of your withdrawal. There are a few alternatives if you will need cash when traveling internationally. First, try working things out with your local bank before setting off. Their rates are better than the airport’s but depending on the currency it may take a few days to order what you need. Otherwise, you should head to an ATM and pull out cash there. The best option is to leave the airport entirely and find an ATM in town if possible.
Paying extra for checked baggage is one of the most lucrative ways in which airlines make money. Of course, their overhead doesn’t change whether your bags are checked or carried on, but for some reason, it warrants a huge price discrepancy. One surefire way to save money is by traveling with only a carry-on item. If you can’t manage to fit all your belongings into a carry-on, make sure you purchase your checked bags online beforehand. Packing an empty water bottle and bringing your own reading material is sure to save you a few bucks here and there, but this hack could be the difference of up to $40.
Be Your Own Doctor
Frequent fliers know there’s a slew of health concerns associated with flying. The combination of low humidity, low cabin pressure, and lots of germs present a tall task for the immune system. Another hack that saves money is to anticipate these symptoms and pack a little first aid kit. Things like ibuprofen, chapstick, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, cold medicine, sleeping aids, and other meds can be up to two or three times their cost at the airport. Keep this travel bag prepared and stashed before packing so you don’t have to run around compiling things before every trip.
Written by Dillon DuBois