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How to Save Money at the Airport

How Not to Blow Your Vacation Budget at the Airport

Traveling is expensive; the last thing you need is to spend your vacation budget at the airport. If you're not careful, the cost of hidden fees and pricey food can easily break the bank and spend your sightseeing savings. From packing the essentials to lightening your load, these tips and tricks will save you money so you can spend your cash on the important things, like that tropical cocktail!

  • Be your own entertainer: Put yourself on a boredom budget by packing everything you need to keep occupied. Download movies beforehand, and pack the magazines you haven't had time to read. Whatever you do, don't rely on airport WiFi. Besides being slow, it's expensive and not secure. If you travel often, consider a travel router or asking your cell phone provider about a personal mobile hotspot. For a small monthly fee, you will save on roaming charges and the cost of public WiFi.
  • Lighten your load: Because most airlines charge a hefty fee for checked bags, carry on. Only pack the essentials and a foldable duffel in case you head home with souvenirs. If you must check a bag, stick with your airline rather than the airport porter to avoid having to tip.
  • Snack smart: Since most airport meals are priced higher than average, plan your snacks and meals in advance. Don't rely on your airline for food, either; most flights no longer offer meal service. Consider pairing that (stingy) bag of peanuts with a sandwich or salad from home and carrying an empty water bottle to fill up. This will save you money and cut calories, too.
  • Avoid the unexpected: Before you leave, pack a small emergency kit filled with essentials like aspirin, band-aids, and antinausea medicine. This will help you avoid the price newsstands charge on toiletries. Also, always carry cash. Having an allotted budget will prevent you from using credit or paying an ATM fee.
  • Study up: A little research can go a long way and save you money. Before you pack, check the TSA's website for specific regulations to avoid having to toss belongings. Check your airline's website, too. You can often score coupons for free drinks and deals on transportation and hotels.
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