Save Time and Money When Traveling Through Airports

Save_Time_Money_Travel_AirportMaybe I haven’t traveled in a while but when did airports become such a rip-off?  Just this month, I’ve traveled over 7,000 miles on 3 round trips with another trip to Philadelphia scheduled for next week and everywhere I go I can’t believe how expensive things are.

I probably sound like a grumpy old man but I can’t be the only one that thinks this is getting out of hand.  Fortunately, I’ve found some great travel hacks to fight the furious airport price gouging.  Some of these you may already know, others you may have thought and others might be too much work for you.  But I’m sure you’ll enjoy them and although they require a little bit of planning isn’t that usually the case when you want to save money?

Getting to/from the Airport

I’ve already talked extensively about how I get to the airport but I don’t think everyone has access to a car sharing service like Car2go.  If you don’t, your next best options are probably public transportation, car garages or a taxi.  If you decide to take a taxi, be firm and make sure you give them the route with the fewest miles.  Since they charge by 1/10 of a mile, the shorter mileage trip will save you more than the shorter time trip.  I have a sneaky suspicion that these guys will often take you on the most circuitous route possible just to squeeze a few extra bucks out of you.

Bring Your Own Food/Drinks

Most domestic flights now charge extra for food.  That’s fine with me, since it’s one less thing I have to pay for.  I usually go to Trader Joe’s the night before my flight and grab a to-go salad and sandwich.  Food like that can pretty much keep all day, so even if you have layovers or multiple stops, you can still have a quality meal at a bargain price.  Ever bought a $6 slice of Sbarro pizza at the airport?  What a rip-off!

I generally fly Southwest and one of their perks is that they serve complimentary soft drinks, juice and water.  I bought a soda at the airport last weekend and it was $3.50, that’s got to be more than just inflation, but Southwest does charge $5 for alcoholic drinks.  That price isn’t too ridiculous but there are some cool tricks I’ve heard about to save money on your adult beverages.

Even though you can’t bring drinks through security anymore, you are allowed to bring bottles containing liquids of 3 oz or less.  What a coincidence it is that mini alcohol bottles are about the same size.  I’ve been known to toss in a few of those bottles into my toiletries and order a soda and mix it up myself.  It will only save you a few bucks but I think it’s relatively little work.

I’m not sure how TSA-acceptable that technique is so if you want to be safe, you can buy unused travel sized plastic bottles from your local drug store and fill these up.  This will actually let you save even more since the bottles are re-usable and you can fill them up with a larger bottle(volume discount baby!).  A TSA agent actually told me about this trick so it must be ok!

Find That Free Wi-Fi

I hate paying for wifi and although most airports offer it for free, there are still a few that don’t.  I downloaded a simple app on my Galaxy S3 that allows me to turn my phone into a mobile hotspot.  That way, I can turn on the hotspot and access the internet from my laptop or iPad while I’m waiting at the airport.

A lot of airlines are starting to offer in flight wifi but the cost is pretty steep.  Southwest charges $8 per device and since the wifi service is limited to just one device, I’m usually too cheap to pay for ir for just myself.  But if I’m traveling with my fiancée or a friend, I can pay for the wifi on my phone and enable the mobile hotspot again allowing multiple people to use it.

We all know that airlines have started resorting to nickel and dime techniques to get the most out of us.  The industry is not as profitable as it once was so it’s up to the consumer to combat these outrageous prices.  You won’t get rich employing any of these techniques but they will definitely save you some money when you’re traveling.  Before a long and expensive weekend in Vegas, the last thing you want is an $8 sandwich and a $4 soda.   You’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend that much once you’re there.

Readers, do you use any of these travel hacks?  Or is it too much work just to save a few bucks?  Are there any other things you can think of that will save you money when traveling through the airport?

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-Harry @ PF Pro

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..

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Comments

  1. says

    I didn’t even think of the mini alcohol trick! Thanks for the tip. I love to read trashy gossip magazines, but will absolutely not fork over the cash to do so. Many people leave them in the seat pocket when they get off the plane, and I always pick them up to take on my next leg, or wherever I am going.

    On longer flights, I will ask the flight attendants if they have any newspapers, they will pick them up from other passengers and often keep them to the side. A nice way to catch up on news from other parts of the country, too.

    I sat in front of a group of travelers once, who brought a box of chocolate covered strawberries for the flight attendants. They were so appreciative, those guys drank for free the whole flight. They also got a bunch of little extras, and you could tell it made the flight attendants’ day.
    Mrs. 1500 recently posted…10 Questions and a Pizza Place with Lacy from EarnVerseMy Profile

    • says

      Haha yea people always laugh when I bust out my mini’s but they usually love that trick and tell me they’re gonna try it. That’s a good point about the magazines since that’s the one thing I always seem to forget.

      I really like that idea of bringing in presents for the flight attendants. I have a flight to Philly next weekend with 3 other people so it might be worth it for us all to get a small box of chocolate covered strawberries and give to the flight attendants. Thank you for the tip!

  2. says

    I agree about the restaurant prices at airports, and the serving is so small!. I like going to a Roberto’s before a flight since they’re 24/7 – carne asada burritos sit in my stomach like a rock for the whole day haha. Great trick about the mini alcohol!

    • says

      Oh Roberto’s is a great idea, great $4 burritos :) You’ll pay double that at the airport and there’s no way it will be anywhere near as good. I think a lot of people forget that you can pretty much bring any food you want onto a plane. And pretty much anything you bring will be cheaper and tastier than what you’ll get at the airport. Just have to plan ahead.

    • says

      The android app is called elixir, don’t think it’s available for the iPhone. But depending on how tech savvy you are, you can easily jailbreak your iPhone and install a similar free app that will allow you to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and/or tether for free. Before I switched, I jailbroke my old iPhone for that app and a couple others. It’s pretty simple process, just read up about it online and watch a couple youtube videos.

  3. says

    I consider the time of the flight, sometimes it is better to pay for a more expensive flight but not for a rush hour taxi. In some places they charge for their time on top of mileage so if you take the shortest route with traffic it can be more expensive than a longer one with less traffic.
    Pauline recently posted…Expat banking: how I manage bank accountsMy Profile

    • says

      I never thought about that, I guess that’s the one good thing about living in San Diego. Compared to other major cities, the traffic is relatively non-existent. My house is about 10 miles from the airport and it takes less than 10 minutes but since they charge 30 cents per 1/10 of a mile it always costs me $30. Luckily, I have my car2go now and that only costs $8.

    • says

      I do the same, some of the stuff I don’t even end up eating but it’s still cheaper than the one time you get hungry and have to pay their ridiculous prices. I still think it’s absurd that you can’t bring water through the security checkpoint.

    • says

      Great point Will. Especially now that airlines in the US are charging per checked bag(except SW!) I always try to carry on. I pack light so it usually works out fine. Never been to Sydney but if it’s anything like LAX :(

  4. Teinegurl says

    Do you put your food/snacks in your carry on or your luggage?? Hmm for some reason i thought you it wouldnt be allowed in carry-ons? Def. useful for my next trip!

    • says

      No I put all my food/snacks straight into my carry on luggage or backpack. Sometimes I get funny looks from people but I don’t really care because I’m eating good food and saving a lot of money!

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