Maybe 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