9 Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport

Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport

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Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport
Cheapism/DALL-E 3

Wallet Safety Above All

Airports can pretend to be cafes and nightclubs all they want, but in truth, we Cheapists know that being at the airport is a miserable experience. In addition to all the money we've spent to be there in the first place, sometimes we don't have time to eat first, leaving us to suffer through a $20 box of lettuce and carrots just to put food in our stomachs. But there’s plenty we can avoid, too. Here are nine things to avoid purchasing at the airport.

Skullcandy Grind Fuel True Wireless Earbuds

1. Headphones

Most airlines will give you headphones for free, especially on any flight showing movies. Avoid buying a $30 pair of knockoff earbuds. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got a dongle, you might be out of luck if you're only looking for iPhone earbuds.

Bottled Water
Kyryl Gorlov/istockphoto
airport currency exchange
airport currency exchange by N509FZ (CC BY-SA)

3. Foreign Currency

Brutal currency exchange rates are an entirely avoidable expense at the airport. There’s probably a place near your arrival or departure destination with lower rates, or maybe even a mall kiosk. For the best rates of all, talk to your bank: With enough notice, you can often exchange money for no fee at all.

Young man hailing a taxi in an airport
FG Trade/istockphoto

4. Taxis

I need to be clear: I feel bad coming for taxis like this. But the truth is, rideshares are just so much better in nearly every way, and I can’t do anything if these cab companies are unable to adapt. Save your money, don’t get scammed. Use a rideshare. (And if you can't stand the thought of supporting Uber or Lyft, opt for one of these ride-hailing alternatives.)

BCOZZY 3-7 Y/O Kids Travel Neck Chin Supporting Pillow for Traveling

5. Neck Pillows

If you want to arrive at your destination without a sore neck, neck pillows are key. Luckily, you can find quality neck pillows for under $20 on the internet; there’s no reason to spend much more than that at the airport. I recently saw one inside a terminal selling for $50. Good luck with that one, airport.

LaylaBird / istockphoto

6. Pharmacy Items

Don’t forget your Advil. Double check the toothpaste. Make sure you brought the sunscreen. I once paid $17 for a tiny stick of deodorant when I left mine behind on a trip. Absolutely humiliating stuff.

Liquor store

7. Duty Free

Though Duty Free is also tax-free, it doesn't always mean that you're saving any money. Airports can still mark up their booze, even without tax. Fire up Google and do a quick comparison before you buy — it might be a lot cheaper when you land.

California roll maki sushi

8. Sushi

Look, I can’t speak for every airport in the world, but damn, this seems like a no-brainer. Sushi is my favorite food on the planet, but if airports can barely get a ham sandwich going, there’s no reason to believe in raw fish.

Enjoying fresh beer.

9. A Beer

Yes, air travel can give even the most frequent traveler anxiety — but try to refrain from taking the edge off with a beer. Depending on the airport, the cost of a beer is likely to run you quite a bit more cheddar than elsewhere. At NYC's LaGuardia, for example, a regular domestic will drain your wallet of more than $12, and many other airports aren't much cheaper. That's considerably more than what you'll pay at the grocery store or even a bar — and it's not even good beer.