Escaping winter? How to save money at the airport

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August 01, 2018 Escaping winter? How to save money at the airport

For me, fleeing Melbourne’s bitter winters and getting some much-needed respite from sub-15°C daily temperatures is an absolute necessity.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m really feeling it this year.

In my defence, the daily temperature literally just topped 9.8°C as I’m writing this.

If you can avoid travelling during peak periods like school holidays, there are some great flight deals floating around at the moment, particularly to the Gold Coast. Depending on what time of day you’re prepared to fly out and fly back, you can get return tickets pretty darn cheap, accommodation notwithstanding.

Cheap flights aside, it’s easy to forget just how much you get stung with peripheral costs before you even board the plane at Tullamarine.

All of a sudden, that relatively inexpensive getaway isn’t as ‘cheap’ as you first thought.

The unanticipated costs

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know my wife and I have two young kids, so I’ll speak subjectively…

Getting to the airport

Now, we could do the whole Skybus thing from Southern Cross Station, bridled with luggage and lugging two kids around.

We did it once.

It’s not fun – far from it! – particularly if you’ve booked a red-eye flight on the way out and a late-night flight on the way back to save money.

We ended up getting a taxi to and from Southern Cross, which was a completely false economy. Long story short, we now drive and cop the Citilink charge getting to and from the airport. 


At Tullamarine, parking is not cheap.

If you just rock up to the airport without doing your homework, parking will cost you an arm and a leg.

If, say, you’re running remotely behind schedule, end up in Section R and have to catch the shuttle bus, long-term outdoor parking can be a seriously daunting affair with kids and heavy luggage.

I know. I’ve been there.

Ways to save money at the airport:

As you can see, it’s not hard for your holiday budget to take a serious beating, even before you actually arrive at your destination.

In other words, being organised can save you some serious cash.

Sure, there are things like Citilink that you just have to lump, but there are a few things you can do to save money at the airport and minimise those additional expenses.

Book ahead

If you book your parking in advance, the discounts can be as high as 50-60 percent.

In fact, the last time we flew out of Melbourne, we got undercover parking right next to the main part of the airport for less than what we would’ve paid had we have just turned up and paid for long-term parking on the day. Crazy, right?!

It happened to be raining when we flew out, so being undercover all the way to checking in with Virgin was infinitely better than traipsing around outdoors in the rain and having to catch the shuttle bus.

Pack snacks

People often get caught up in holiday mode, particularly once you get on the plane.

In saying that, in-flight food and drinks and entertainment aren’t exactly cheap!

To be honest, I’d rather have the extra cash to splash while we’re at our holiday destination, rather than blow part of our budget on overpriced rubbish on the plane.

We usually pack a couple of bottles of filtered water from home and a few healthy snacks. We factor these in to the weekly shop prior to our departure date.

Ultimately, it comes down to planning in advance.

Avoid temptation

Once you’ve checked in and passed through security, it can be tricky to make it through the retail/food areas unscathed on the way to the departure gate.

If you have kids, you’ll know precisely what I mean!

The last time we went on holiday, I was killing time at Sunglass Hut and got caught up in the whole ‘we’re on holiday’ thing. I bought a new pair of sunglasses, which I later discovered I could have bought online for 40 percent less!

Got any more money saving tips at the airport? Let us know in the comments below.

As always, if you want to talk about more ways you can save money, take control and enjoy life, feel free to book in a time to chat:


Disclaimer: all information contained within this article is of a general nature. It does not take into consideration your personal financial circumstances. Please consult a professional financial adviser (just like us 🙂 ) when making a financial decision.


Jason Chew

I've been in the financial services industry for 10+ years and love coaching people to make the most of what they have.


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