How to Save Money on Food at the Airport in Europe

Airports are pricey. Everywhere. They can also be overcrowded, chaotic and boring. Unfortunately, spending time in an airport before your next tour is unavoidable; however saving money on food once you’re there is your choice entirely.

With a little preparation and some useful knowledge, you can avoid spending unnecessary money. Use these money saving tips to guarantee you spend less at the airport and have more cash at your final destination and to enjoy living it up during your tour across EuropeHere are our tips on how to save money on food at the airport.

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How to save money on food at the airport
Save your money while you wait at the airport

1. Prepare meals and snacks in advance

By far, the best option is to try and prepare some food at home or in your hotel room and take it to the airport. Try and choose options that transport well. Sandwiches, bread rolls, wraps, cold pasta salads, nuts, and muesli or granola bars are great options. There is nothing better than getting peckish on a flight, then reaching for your salad sandwich that is freshly made that day and loaded with all your favourite things. Perhaps vegetarian options are a safer choice for your sandwiches or wraps, depending on how long your journey will be. Like we said, the less money you spend at the airport means you can live large during your tour or independent travels. 

Alternatively, before heading to the airport, you could stop by your favourite café and pick up a freshly made baguette and a packet of some dried fruit or healthy snacks. This is always going to be a much better and cheaper option than airport food.

2. Zip-lock bags are fantastic to store snacks

Ask any traveller how they feel about zip-lock bags, I can guarantee they’ll rave about the number of uses they can find for them. They’re very durable and you can slide them open and closed all day to access snacks easily enough. They come in many different sizes and you can use them to store all your food separately.

These are fantastic to store your snacks to take to the airport. Fill them with mixed nuts, trail mix, dried fruit or beef jerky.  Snacks such as these are high in protein and fibre, so they’ll keep you satisfied for longer. These are better options than sweets and potato chips, and they’ll keep you feeling much healthier too. Reusable cutlery and a washable container are great to travel accessory to always have in your daypack to help you plan ahead and transport food regularly.

How to save money on food at the airport
All good adventures start at the airport

3. Pack a refillable water bottle  

Always bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport, and it would be best to use an aluminium water bottle or similar. You will have to empty it before you go through customs, however, on the other side, you will generally find water fountains where you can refill and keep hydrated for free.

Who wants to pay around $4 on average for a bottle of water when the tap water in many countries and airports is perfectly fine? Most US and Australian airports have free bottle refilling stations, and more than half of UK airports have them, including all the major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh).

In many airports across Asia, you’ll find a free water filling station that offers both hot and cold water.The option to pour either hot or cold water from the free water dispenser is ideal if you want to fill a thermos or Keepcup to have hot tea on your flight or just enjoy while you are waiting in the lounge to board your flight. Bring some tea bags or coffee tea bags from home and avoid paying $5 for a cup of bad tea or coffee on the plane.

4. Best value food to buy at airports

There will commonly be a convenience store located inside the airport which has things like pre-packed sandwiches or wraps. This is probably the cheapest option to buy something that is filling, yet won’t set you back lots of cash. In many UK airports, look for a store called Boots. They offer great value meal deals for around $6–$7.  This includes a pre-packed sandwich or wrap, a drink of your choice and a small snack.

In European airports, the best option is to buy a freshly made baguette or panini from a small café to take on the plane. You can always find cheap pastries, such as a croissant or danish to snack on later on. Enjoy that with your own tea from home.

How to save money on food at the airport
Photo credit: Transport Pixels on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Some airports such as Schiphol in Amsterdam have a whole little supermarket inside. How fantastic is that? The Dutch always seem to be one step ahead of the game. If find yourself at Heathrow Airport, the best option is a store called Pret-a-Manger. They make fresh sandwiches, soups, toasties, wraps and salads all day – and they’re delicious. If you’re travelling to Gatwick Airport, again, the best option is Pret-a-Manger, Jamie’s bakery (cheap and filling) or Wagamama if you’re craving some Japanese inspired food-eat in or take away.

How to save money on food at the airport
Photo credit: garryknight on Visual Hunt / CC BY

5. Take advantage of the in-flight hot water

Either way, once you’re on the plane, ask the flight attendant for some hot water. Hot water is also your friend if you’re in the mood for breakfast — just bring along a few packets of instant oatmeal. Mix in some dried fruit such as figs, dates or apricots and you’ve got yourself a hot, filling and nutritious free meal.

Share your best airport money saving tips below! 

Rach is a self-confessed food traveller. When she’s not searching for the best food experiences around the globe, you can find her chasing the sun, taking road trips in her camper-van or chowing down on the best eats around Melbourne. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @veryhungrynomads, Twitter @veryhungrynomads and Very Hungry Nomads

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