Sky High Airport Prices

The costs of traveling can drain the wallet quickly—especially air travel. Going to the airport in a hurry can create some costly mistakes. Be sure to keep the these tips in mind:

Know your limit.

No matter whether you are going somewhere for a week or a day, limiting your luggage to the allowed limit can save you big bucks. Some airlines charge bag fees for any checked baggage, while a few allow one for free. Those bag fees can run anywhere from $29 up to $50 per item, and the rates can be even higher for overweight bags. Know your bag limit and pack to stay within it.

Don’t pack what they will toss.

There’s nothing worse than watching a TSA agent toss out perfectly good hand lotion, bug repellant, mouthwash, deodorant, or bottled water. That’s what happens when you ignore the TSA regulations for what is allowed in carry on luggage. Check TSA’s guidelines to see what you are allowed to bring with you in your carry on bag, and what needs to be in your checked baggage instead. It was estimated that the TSA tossed 13 million personal items in 2006. Many of these are sold at auction later at bargain prices, but that’s a different blog topic for another day.

Buying food and drink at the airport is like buying them at the movies.

We all know that the best deals aren’t in the airport shops. On my last visit, I forked out $7.03 for a large latte because it was 5:45 a.m. and I was desperate—but, really! Bottled water costs at least $3 for 12 ounces, a small bag of trail mix for $5.75, and the list goes on. Drink water from the public fountain in the airport, and get your complimentary drinks and snacks when you are in flight. Bring your more substantial food from home, like sandwiches, but first check to see what TSA will allow through security. I thought a carton of yogurt would be okay, but it was confiscated just before I splurged on the latte. You can save plenty of money by sticking to those two tips.

Get a good start.

Getting to the airport is a chore and your best method depends largely on if a friend or relative can give you a ride, and if they can’t, how long your trip. If your trip is a few days and you drive, plan to park at a secure facility located off the airport property. That can save you as much as 50% of what the airport will charge you to park in their lot. If you will be on a longer trip where the daily lot rental adds up quickly, consider public transportation or a shared van before hailing a cab. If your trip is 6 days and parking is $11 a day, you may be better off taking an airport shuttle. A taxi may be the most direct way to get there, but it’s usually the most expensive.

Enjoy free entertainment.

In the days of iPods, portable PlayStations and laptops, the days of renting headphones to watch movies onboard may be long gone. But, advanced preparation is required. Your iPod must be loaded with movies or music, and your gadgets must be charged up before takeoff. Also, go ahead and bring your own reading materials—buying magazines or paperbacks at the airport is a rip-off.

Make sure to make vacation spending part of your budgeting plan. Develop your own budget or call Clearpoint to get help from a certified consumer credit counselor. Request a free credit counseling session at 800.750.2227 (CCCS).

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