Most things for sale at airports are way more expensive than anywhere else.
Flying is expensive enough as it is without giving into pre-flight temptations. According to experts, your time waiting at the airport can quickly tack on extra costs to your trip if you spend money on certain things without thinking it through.
Airport Wi-Fi is usually slow and overpriced.
If you're reading this story on RD.com, you must be using the Internet, and if you're anything like us, you probably sometimes feel fairly dependent on all that connectivity (Here are the signs you're addicted to your smartphone). No judgment! However, just say no to paying for Wi-Fi in the airport.
"Airports take advantage of the fact that once you're past those security gates, you're a captive audience," explains Coleman Collins, former full-time traveler and author of the forthcoming: "The Road Warrior: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Health, Productivity, and Sanity While Traveling for Work." First off, the Wi-Fi is "slow and horrifically overpriced," he points out. But more importantly, "travel provides the perfect forced Internet break.Your emails can wait!" Instead of checking your handheld device, how about reading, engaging in a craft, or sitting quietly. It's one of many ways you can sneak mindfulness into everyday moments.
Electronics are on average 34% more expensive at airports than online, according to one shopping comparison website.
If you've decided you can pass up the airport Wi-Fi, then perhaps you'll be open to passing up the opportunity to impulse-purchase electronics from those overpriced airport kiosks, even those little items like chargers and headsets you may have forgot to pack.
"Electronics purchased at the airport will cost you significantly more than if you had bought them ahead of time," says Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews, a shopping comparison website. "Our research shows that electronics are, on average, 34% more expensive at the airport than what they would find online. For some of the smaller items, that could mean a difference of $10 to $15. For some of the more advanced technology digital cameras, you could be overpaying anywhere from $50 to $200. And that charger? It could be up to 50% more at the airport."
Collins notes specifically that headphones tend to be ridiculously overpriced at the airport. "If you must buy them, whether for an important call or just to survive a six-hour flight, you'll get prices closest to retail at those Best Buy kiosks."
Buy souvenirs at your actual destination to save money.
Here are the souvenirs you'll want to bring home from every state, but whatever you do, don't buy them at the airport. "There is an astronomical markup on souvenirs at the airport," says Peter Yang, seasoned business traveler. So plan ahead, and purchase souvenirs at your destination, rather than while in transit.
4. Foreign currency
The airport is not the place to exchange currency.
It's probably one of the last things you'll think about when planning a trip, but don't exchange your money for foreign currency at the airport, says Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate and former communications strategist for a large travel company.
"It's well-known that travelers are arriving unprepared, and given the lack of competition among currency exchange booths at the airport, those booths tend to charge high fees and far from the best exchange rates." Yang suggests waiting until you arrive at your destination and taking out money from an ATM there. "You'll get a much better exchange rate that way." Here are some other 56 easy and pain-free ways to save money.
5. Neck pillows
Neck pillows at airports have been touched and tried on by many travelers — and they're overpriced.
"Before your trip, make sure you purchase a neck pillow if you're going on a long flight," advises Arik Kislin, co-owner of the Gansevoort Hotel and Alerion Aviation, a private jet company. "The ones they sell in the airport are overpriced and have been touched and tried on by many travelers walking through the airport." Yuck and yuckier. (We're fans of the Cabeau Evolution Pillow that comes with its own set of ear plugs.) If you're hoping to get in the sleepy zone on the airplane, consider packing this lush and sleepy product in your carry-on.
Like other airport products, suitcases will cost you more.
Shop too much on your trip and looking to pick up an extra suitcase at the airport? According to Bridges, you never should do that. "What you can buy in the airport is attractive, no doubt, but you'll definitely pay a premium." Here are the signs of a well-made piece of luggage.
7. Reading materials
The exception is if you're buying from an airport read and return bookstore.
Your brain needs you to read, and there are so many good books you can read in a day. But don't wait until you get to the airport to think of this! "Grab a book from your bookshelf and bring it with you, cost-free," says Bridges. "Otherwise you may be paying that extra hike-up charge to be entertained for a short period of time." The exception is if you are buying your book at one of these amazing airport read and return bookstores.
Airport chocolate is usually at least twice as expensive as at the supermarket, according to one travel expert.
Chocolate is oh-so-good, and it's also good for your brain. But don't buy it at the airport, and certainly not in the duty-free shop, advises Brittnay Sharman, one half of the Traveling Housesitters, who've been traveling the world for the past three years and have been in and out of 25 countries.
"Take a look at the prices, and you'll see you're usually paying two or three times more than what you'd pay at the supermarket," she points out. "They try to make it look more exciting by having oversize items. But do you really need that much chocolate at that price?"
No, you're not actually saving money at duty-free stores.
"Many people stop at duty-free stores because of the common misconception that they will save a fortune on taxes," points out Veronica Thor, a consumer and shopping expert and blogger. "However, the reality is that the small tax savings doesn't make up for the markup in prices. And this is particularly true when it comes to alcohol."
She gives the example of Grey Goose, which can be bought for under $50 at Costco, but which is selling currently for $60 at the duty-free chain, Duty Free Americas. If you're considering cutting back on the booze, here are some tips to reduce your alcohol intake.
10. Department store perfume
That perfume they're selling at the duty-free shop in the airport could very well be a fake, according to the blog, Duty-Free Buzz. It's not just at the airport that you'll find counterfeit perfume, but at the airport, there's a greater chance that the retailer from whom you're buying it has no idea if he's selling a counterfeit version. So, in other words, the duty-free shop may be selling what it believes to be the real deal, but it's not. You're far better off buying perfume directly from its manufacturer or in a department store that you trust. Do you really need expensive perfume? Find out the difference between cheap and expensive perfumes.