Keep your wallet closed, or even earn money
by Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellythekiwi)
The Christmas holidays are just around the corner, and if you are anything like me you will arrive at the airport two hours before your flight and have no idea how to spend your time until the flight boards.
Keep your wallet closed, or even earn money, by following my 5 tips:
#1 Avoid the express trains
Express trains to any of the airports near London can add a huge extra cost to your holiday budget. Take a look at these alternatives:
- Have a look at the National Rail website standard trains such as the South Eastern service between London Bridge and Gatwick or the Heathrow Connect from Paddington.
- easyBus offers transfers to Stansted, Luton and Gatwick Airports. If you book far enough in advance, you can buy tickets from just £2.00. Other bus companies such as National Express and Terravision will get you from Central London to your chosen airport for between £10 and £15.
- Travelling to Heathrow at night? The little known N9 bus route goes from Aldwych to Heathrow Terminal 5. The journey takes around 1.5 hours but the best bit is that you can get there for the cost of a standard London bus fare – £2.40 cash, or by using your Oyster Card or bus pass.
#2 Stay offline
It is very tempting to pass your time at the airport by surfing the net but don’t drain your wallet before you’ve even got on the plane! Most airports will offer you a period of free Wi-Fi – this can be anything from 45 minutes to an hour. After this, you will be charged around £3 an hour depending on the airport. Use your free allowance to make your friends jealous by ‘checking in’ on Facebook but then put your smart phones away.
#3 Bring a packed lunch… dinner or breakfast
Airport food can sometimes leave a lot to be desired and it is bound to be one of the most expensive things you will buy. Recently in Agadir, I bought a packet of crisps, I walked away and did the conversions, realising I had paid over £4.00 for them!
The best option is to either eat before you go, or to bring something to eat when you get there. Don’t forget you will not be able to take bottles over 100mL through security so drink this before you go through.
#4 Take your airport entertainment with you
I am very guilty of heading to WH Smith as soon as I arrive at the airport and buying books and trashy magazines despite having a shelf full of unread ones at home. Make sure to pack some form of airport entertainment in your carry-on luggage. This is where having a Kindle comes in handy, or take advantage of the charity book shops in your neighbourhood.
On a side note – if you need to purchase a travel adaptor make sure to get it before you get to the airport. You will spend upwards of £5.00 by buying them at the last minute when you could have got one from the Pound shops at home.
#5 Make money by mystery shopping
Use those extra two hours to make money! Airport restaurants and duty free shops are always looking for people to act as mystery shoppers or diners. The Mystery Dining Company offers regular users of Heathrow Airport the chance to dine for free. Just register with their website and wait for suitable assignments to be posted. Dynamic Mystery Shopping deal with the retail side of your airport experience and look for people to mystery shop at duty free shops. Register your flight with their website and if it matches what they are look for you could end up with free a free beauty product!
Don’t let your holiday budget dwindle before you’ve even left the ground. Follow my advice and have extra cash for all those souvenir key rings and fridge magnets you can’t wait to buy!
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You may also want to check our 5 Budget Ideas for a First Date in London.