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How to save money while flying

By Paula Pant ·
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Posted: 2 pm ET

Plenty of people write articles about how to save money when booking airline tickets. However the savings can continue from the time you get to the airport to the moment you touch down at your destination.

Airport parking, airplane snacks, overpriced food-court meals, expensive ground transportation -- there are plenty of ways for a family to drop $20, $50 or even $100 on incidentals.

Here are a few tips that might help you save some cash.

Make airport parking your last option

Only park your car at the airport as a last resort. Exhaust every other possibility first. Are you departing from a city that hosts a rail or bus line? Do you have a friend who can drop you off? Have you checked the price of taking an airport shuttle or a taxi?

Major cities like Atlanta, Denver, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., offer efficient public transit options to the airport. If you are flying from a smaller airport that does not offer public transit, compare the price of catching a shuttle versus the cost of parking. Shuttles are often cheaper.

Pack snacks

Carry snacks onto an airplane and you can save a bundle. Make sure the foods are odorless and durable, preserve well at room temperature and don't involve liquids. My favorite standbys include granola bars, hard fruit (like apples) and raw nuts.

Avoid soft fruits such as bananas, which run the risk of getting squished in your purse. Call ahead to make sure security checkpoints will let you board with foods such as jars of peanut butter.

Bring a disposable water bottle

I always bring a disposable water bottle with me when traveling. I sip from it when I'm walking to the local train, checking in for my flight and moving through the security checkpoint.

By the time I'm ready for security to pat me down, I've finished the bottle and I'm starting my flight well-hydrated. That means I'm less likely to buy an overpriced $4 drink on impulse.

I'm usually allowed to carry the empty bottle through security, which means I can refill it from water fountains after the screening. However, on occasion, security has thrown away my empty bottles. So, if you follow this tip, it is best to use disposable bottles.

Paula Pant blogs at about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.

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1 Comment
June 04, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I have (with the exception of avoiding parking) done all those things. Unfortunately, paying $70 for long term parking ($10 per day at our regional "international" airport), has become unavoidable since there are no other options that would save me enough money to make it worthwhile NOT to park on site. There used to be $5/day long term parking (requiring a longer walk to the terminal-brutal in the dead of winter when you are returning from FLORIDA!) But I do bring along food etc and avoid spending $$ for airline "food".