Family vacations can be expensive – between the airfare (no children’s fare available), attraction tickets, hotel costs, and meals, budgeting for a family vacation is essential. In fact, many families find themselves spending loads of money even before they get on an airplane. Airports can be complete money pits, but with a bit of advanced planning, you’ll hopefully be able to save money on your family vacation by spending less in the airport.
Start off by researching parking options at the airport before you leave. Sometimes, you may find that it’s cheaper to take a town car, taxicab, or shuttle to the airport than it is to park at the airport. Check Groupon and other group buying sites regularly for discounted town car vouchers. If you do decide to drive, consider the long-term parking lot or off-property lots – but remember to leave lots of extra time because it will take more time to get to the airport.
Once you arrive at the airport, only use curbside check-in if you don’t have to pay an extra fee. It’s completely ridiculous to pay just to check outside unless you are running very late. Try to carry on. If you are a frequent traveler, consider investing in a high-quality carry-on bag that can carry loads of stuff. I like the Zuca Pro, which is expensive but worthwhile if you travel frequently. Then, you won’t have to pay the checked bag fee. But, if you do have to pay the fee, consider checking in online which will often save you a few dollars.
Once you check into your flight and pass security, you may have time to kill. While it’s a great idea to get coffee or a meal at airport, avoid purchasing supplies for your flight, including snacks. Bring your own snacks. You can’t bring liquids through security, so you’ll need to purchase water and other drinks at the airport. But, you can still bring snacks – protein bars, nuts, fresh fruit are great healthy travel snacks that will fill you up. Also steer your kids away from the ubiquitous toy stores in the mall – save your money for your vacation!
Airlines are starting to charge for blankets, pillows, and headphones, so your own to avoid those fees. Instead of bringing a blanket, I prefer to wear a cashmere-blend pashmina, which I can use as a scarf or wrap but also as an ad-hoc blanket. It’s more comfortable, and I can use it at my destination. I also pack my kids’ backpacks with headphones, pens, paper, books, a small pillow, and a blanket for the flight.
These few tips are a great way to save money in the airport, so you can save money that is better spent on your family vacation!