Airports tend to be known for two things: long lines and overpriced cargo. While airport shopping is great to browse during a long layover or when you want to pick up some last-minute souvenirs for family and friends, there are some things you should never buy at the airport.
Everywhere else, these items are inexpensive necessities. But as soon as you set foot in an airport, their prices rise dramatically, say professional travelers. Read on to find out which items you absolutely must pack with you before you leave for your next flight, or be prepared to shell out more money than expected for these essentials.
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Candice Criscione, the founder of Mom In Italy and The Tuscan Mom, has been planning a vacation to Italy for 18 years. After a decade traveling the world with her three children, she learned a trick to avoid those expensive newsstand magazines.
“I used to spend so much money at the airport on magazines for the flight,” she says. “Now I download magazines to my iPad for free using the Libby app from my library. It’s so easy and I save money every time I fly!” Remember what Arthur from arthur used to say, “Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card!”
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Sure, it’s nice to sip a glass of vino before you hop on your plane, but Mark Aselstine of Wine Club Reviews suggests thinking twice before grabbing the wine list. He says airport restaurants often mark up their wine to absurd price levels.
Aselstine has a particular example from his airport of choice in Oakland: “They have a Shannon Ridge Zinfandel by the glass for $16. My only issue with the price is $12 a bottle at the grocery store and kinda comical given the by the glass price exceeds the price of the bottle.”
As a chronic migraine sufferer and knee pain sufferer, I know all too well the importance of always packing medication when I travel. The few times I had to buy medicine at the airport, I would sometimes shell out $10 for a small box of ten ibuprofen. And I’m not the only one recommending that you double-check the medications you brought before you leave for the airport.
David J. Decker, who travels two million miles weekly for his job at Royal Neighbors of America, agrees that the drugs are extortionate. “Small sample packs that contain one dose will cost the same as an entire bottle at any major pharmacy,” he says. Do yourself a favor and always keep a small container of your favorite medicine in the bag you travel with frequently. It’s my trick not to forget them.
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It’s easier said than done not to grab a bag of crackers after walking past the third snack or restaurant. Even so, Lanie van der Horst of Make More Adventures says to avoid temptation. Her suggestions: pack your own snacks and always make sure you have a reusable water bottle handy.
“We make sure to bring snacks so we don’t have to buy some at the airport where they’re completely bloated,” says van der Horst. “Sometimes we have to buy meals, but never snacks. It’s easy to bring our favorite meals and those of our children in our hand luggage to avoid this additional cost.”
Seeing electronic vending machines around airports always seems really futuristic. Unsurprisingly, however, these screens also suffer from the airport beaconing phenomenon. One of the worst offenders? Listeners. In fact, a pair can cost you 400% more at the airport than anywhere else, according to Uprooted Traveler’s Jessica Schmit.
“I leave a cheap pair rolled up in my carry-on, so I always have one on hand when I travel,” Schmit suggests. “Alternatively, if you forget them, you can check to see if your airline offers free ones (e.g. United and Qatar usually do!). Even if flight attendants don’t walk down the aisle handing out free headphones . , there’s a good chance they have a few hidden on the plane, just ask!”
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Outlets for charging electronics in the airport are quite hard to find, but don’t forget the charger itself. Finding a new one will cost a lot more if you need it at the airport. “They’re always in high demand if you can find them,” Decker says. “Stores sell cheap counterfeits that last a few days. If you want the real deal, be prepared to pay two to three times the normal price.”
Your best bet? Get an extra charger and keep it in your luggage so you’ll never be without it when you travel. Plus, you don’t have to exchange the ones you’re still using at home when you get back.
If you bring devices that require batteries (especially if you plan to use these devices on the plane), don’t forget to bring extra batteries. Otherwise, you will pay high prices to get this electronic device working again.
Decker says he always brings extras to avoid being charged at the airport. “When your noise canceling headphones go off, you’ll be giving an arm and a leg to make sure they’re working before you board a flight with a crying baby.”
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