Airports are smart - they know they have a captive audience. By thinking ahead and avoiding unnecessary airport purchases because you're bored, the £200 you save at the airport could take you to Marrakesh rather than Malia, buy you a five-star upgrade, or cover your spending money.

Airports (and airlines!) tend to have you over a barrel while you wait for your flight. You may have bagged a bargain holiday, so don’t let your financial common sense desert you now.

Here are some great ways to ensure you get your holiday off to a flying start, and avoid making a hole in your money before you’ve even left the country.


Duty Free will promise you huge, huge savings. If you can see something you’d really like, and you have internet access, do some quick online window shopping. You may find that it’s much cheaper from Amazon, eBay, or sites such as

Saving: Approx. £120 (perfume/aftershave: £35, booze: £30, make up: £25, cigarettes: £20)

If you’re checking your bags in, airline staff may ask you if you’d like to pay a little extra for speedy boarding, or to ensure you can sit next to your travelling companion(s). Both make little difference to your comfort during your journey, so say no.

Saving: £15 (based on Ryanair's charges for Speedy Boarding)

Contrary to popular belief, you can take your own food on flights, and through airport security. Just make sure you’re not taking smelly foods which might annoy people around you; exercise caution if you’re a fan of fish-based products.

Saving: £15 (based on the cost of a half chicken meal with two regular sides with a Coke at Gatwick)

Always make sure you get your foreign currency before you leave. Airports charge extortionate fees to change your sterling over – and you’ll miss out on extra holiday spending money. Research online before you go, and see which companies are offering the best rates. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of carrying around cash, look into getting a pre-loaded currency card, which has its own pin, and will let you withdraw money as you go.

Saving: £13 (average value transaction of £268 into euros at a UK airport. Source: The Telegraph)

You will pay over the odds for booze and hot food, so avoid this at all costs (pun intentional). If you’ve got to eat, choose a sandwich, and ask the counter staff for tap water.

Saving: £10 (Cost of a panini at Wetherspoons in Gatwick: £5. Cost of a burrito with an alcoholic drink: £15)

Don’t fall foul of the ‘water trap’. It’s common to see people panic-drinking their water or soft drinks before they go through security – and then thinking they have to ditch the bottles. Save your bottle, and refill it for free when you’re through. Just make sure the bottle is empty, remove the cap, and place it into the plastic tray as you go through security. This also goes for thermos flasks – just make sure that the lid is off, and airline staff can easily access the flask, as they may want to swab it.

Saving: £5 (Based on the price of two bottles of water from Pret a Manger in Gatwick)


Avoid buying any hot snacks, even if you’ve worked your way through your packed lunch. The portions are small, they’re often pretty tasteless, and you can pay up to £7 for a panini and a soft drink. If you can wait until you get to your destination, do so.

Saving: £7 (Cost of a sandwich and a coffee from easyJet's in-flight menu)

Want to watch a film or listen to music, but unsure of how to convert your single pronged headphones into the double jack in your arm rest? Plan ahead, and visit your local 99p store, where you can pick up a converter for under a pound. Airlines will happily sell you double-pronged headphones, but they will charge you around £5 – and they are often poor quality.

Saving: £7 (Based on the price of a double headphone jack from Dixons in Gatwick)

Need a caffeine hit? Bring your own coffee and whitener sachets onto the flight, and just ask for a cup of hot water. If you and your travel buddy both fancy a coffee, you can save at least £5 by doing this.

Saving: £5 (Cost of two Starbucks coffees from easyJet's in-flight menu)

If you’re flying with a low-cost airline, you may be offered a scratchcard. Save your money and abstain. If the proceeds are going to charity, and you’d like to help, make a note of the organisation, and donate directly.

Saving: £3 (Cost of a single easyJet scratchcard)

You always have a choice. Don’t fall into the traps set for you by the airports, retailers and airlines deliberately designed to extract an extra couple of hundred quid from you.

As always, here's our condensed guide to hanging on to your hard-earned holiday spending money:

- The extra early time you are expected to be at the airport can often lead to boredom, so occupy your mind. Bring a book, listen to a podcast, phone a friend - your mind can wander, just not into the shops!

- Plan ahead. Get any tech and toiletries you need before you leave for your holiday.

- Be bold. You're allowed to bring empty water bottles through security. Bring your own food. Bring pre-mixed coffee sachets.

- Speedy boarding just means you get to sit on the flight longer than everyone else - that's it.

- Change your currency before you get to the airport. You'll pay a hefty premium if you don't - M&S, the Post Office and lots of high street banks offer great exchange rates.