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Travel Hacking the Airport: Never Buy this Stuff

The airport is the gateway to foreign lands and there is no way around using it if you are traveling great distances. After you have successfully travel hacked your way to a great deal on a fare the last thing you want to do is spend more money at the airport. Avoiding baggage fees is easy but once inside the terminal you are trapped in a world of overpriced items.

Here are some things to definitely avoid buying at the airport.

Duty-Free Goods

It may be tempting to browse through the duty-free stores at the airport to kill time but rarely is there actually a good deal. “Duty-free is almost never a deal for the casual shopper out to get a bargain,” says Jason Clampet a senior editor at Frommers.com.  “You can save significant amounts if you’re a smoker who lives in a state with high taxes, but you’ll find that electronic goods, beauty products and luxury items such as designer purses usually cost less at home or online.”

If you really want to try to find a deal do some research before you head in the duty-free shop and know what you are looking for.

Exchanging Money

This is probably the worst place you could possibly exchange currency. It certainly is convenient but it is at a high cost to you. Instead use the ATM when you get to your destination. There are plenty of debit cards that have no or low foreign transaction fees.

Even better head to a local bank to make the exchange in person and cut out the debit card altogether if you bring cash.

Bottled Water

I absolutely hate when I forget my water bottle and have to spend $3-4 on 16 oz. of water. It is ridiculous to buy water when there is a water fountain close to every gate. Bring your empty water bottle through security and fill it up as many times as you please.

Even if you don’t mind spending money on water it is good to bring water on the plane. Often we are served tiny cups of water onboard but that is not enough to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is the best way to avoid jet lag on long haul flights. So remember to BYO-Water bottle to the airport.

Restaurant Meals

Sitting down to eat can be a great way to kill time on a layover or a delay but it will cost you. Typical restaurant items are always jacked up inside the terminal compared to their same menu in your hometown. They can get away with those prices so the only way to avoid them is to plan ahead. Pack a sandwich and some snacks for your journey. It will be healthier and cheaper.


Most airports have WiFi these days and many of them charge a lot just to check your email. If you need to use more than just your smartphone and need you get on your laptop there are a few options. Try to find a restaurant with free WiFi. Many offer free WiFi but some are locked with a code only revealed after a purchase. Buying a $4 drink will still be cheaper than the buying WiFi and at least you get something in return for that drink. Other options is to simply scour the terminal with your smartphone and find free, unlocked WiFi.

Or use your smartphone as a hotspot. This varies across all carriers in terms of additional fees but one great option is to simply jailbreak your iPhone and tether it to your laptop. This way you can use the data plan you already pay for on your laptop. Jailbreaking is not required and most carriers offer this at a monthly cost. It may be worth the money if you find yourself needing WiFi domestically quite often. This is useless when abroad because your data charges will be very high.

Every dollar you don’t waste at the airport can go to more useful things at your final destination.

via Huffpost

photo via Flickr

I have been traveling to over 100 countries by using the methods I share on this site. My goal is to maximize every trip and make the most of my adventures. Join me on Instagram.