Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport

If you forget an item at home or you’re simply looking for a way to pass the time, you might engage in a bit of airport shopping. Although this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it isn’t the best move for your wallet. Prices at airport shops tend to be quite high, so your best bet is to make important purchases beforehand. Planning ahead can save you time and money.

Here are some things you should never buy at the airport.

Reading material

woman reading on an airplane

Buying your in-flight reading material at the airport will cost you. | iStock.com

Waiting around at the airport can get boring. So, you might wander over to an airport shop and browse the book and magazine selection. This might seem like a simple fix to your battle with boredom, but it will cost you. You’re better off bringing books and magazines from home. Magazines and books are often more expensive at the airport.

However, if you’re really dying to read a book on the plane, as an alternative, think about using the Read & Return program from Paradies Lagardère. This is a company that runs airport stores. The store allows customers to purchase a book at one of their locations and return it within six months for a 50% discount. You need the original receipt and the book must be in good condition.

Neck pillows

casual caucasian lady napping on uncomfortable seat

A proper neck pillow can make a long flight more comfortable, but buying one at the airport is expensive. | iStock.com/kasto80

If you have a long flight, you might want to take a nap on the airplane. If you don’t have a pillow, you might be tempted to buy one at the airport. A long plane ride can leave you with neck and back pain. This purchase might make sense to you at the time, but you’ll pay a much higher price for a neck pillow from the airport. Instead, purchase a pillow from your local drug store or online. As of this writing, you can buy a neck pillow from Walmart.com for as low as $3.50.

Souvenirs

royal souvenirs

Don’t get scammed by high-priced souvenirs. | Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

You might want to remember your trip with a souvenir, but there are better ways to spend your money. Airport souvenirs are costly. If you really want to remember your trip, take pictures. They’re more meaningful and will last a lot longer.

If you insist on buying a souvenir, be careful about making your purchase during a guided tour. Tour guides often take their group to preselected shops, but make sure to keep an eye on the prices. Smarter Travel warns that your tour guide may get a commission on the items you buy, so this could result in inflated prices. You might get better prices if you shop elsewhere.

Duty-free merchandise

Duty free shop in airport, Munich, Germany.

Avoid the duty-free shop | InnaFelker/iStock/Getty Images

Just because an item is from a duty-free store doesn’t always mean it will be cheaper. The prices of items are based on geography and currency exchange rates. Depending on where you make your purchase, you could end up paying more than if you made your purchase at home.

“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,” said Jason Clampet, a former travel editor for Frommers.com, in a USA Today interview.

Restaurant meals

man eating a burger

Skip the overpriced airport food. | Kzenon/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Restaurants generally charge higher prices for food at an airport location. This is because airport restaurants pay more for operating costs. In addition, food prices tend to change depending on the terminal. Consequently, it can be tough to weigh your options so you can visit the restaurant with the better deal. A USA Today report found a hamburger combo meal at one fast-food chain cost $3.59, but at a different terminal it cost almost twice that price for a similar combo at a different chain in another terminal. Save cash by eating beforehand and bringing a few snacks.

 Headphones

man wearing headphones

Buy your headphones before you get through security. | iStock

Packing for a trip can be stressful. It’s not uncommon to forget a few things. However, one item you don’t want to forget is your headphones. Your moment of forgetfulness will cost you. Instead of shelling out the cash to purchase an expensive set of headphones from an airport store, you might be better off buying your headphones on the flight if they sell them.

Wi-Fi

Young female passenger on smart phone and laptop sitting in terminal

Don’t pay for Wi-Fi | iStock.com/VladTeodor

Airport Wi-Fi can get costly at some airports. That’s why it’s important to explore your options before paying for Wi-Fi. As an alternative, you can use your hotspot on your mobile phone. You can also consider using the Wi-Fi at an airport Starbucks. In addition, you can borrow a mobile hotspot from your local public library. This will take the worry out of using an unsecured connection.

Luggage

legs of elegant woman going on business trip

Luggage costs more at the airport than at a regular store. | iStock.com/YakobchukOlena

If you’re in a situation where your bag doesn’t meet the weight requirement for checked baggage, you might try to save yourself the airline’s overweight charges by purchasing a new bag and repacking. However, airport luggage is usually more expensive than luggage purchased at a store. Save yourself the added fees by making sure you don’t overpack.

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