Airports. When we’re not racing to make a connection, we’re spending hours at our gate (or in a lounge if we have the right credit card) trying to pass the time. But there’s a lot more that we can do with our time other than people watching or spending a ton of cash at the nearest bar. Depending on where you’re traveling, it’s possible to save money and enjoy some freebies while you’re at the airport. Here’s a look at some of the coolest free stuff we could find at airports worldwide.
Get In a Workout
Yes, we know. Running across the terminal to try to make your connection can be a workout in itself, and a stressful one at that. However, if you have some time to kill at the airport, many offer free workout facilities.
For example, passengers in Baltimore/Washington have free access to a cardio track, and San Francisco International Airport has a yoga room, as do many others, and they’re free. Yoga rooms in particular have increased in popularity, explains travel expert Suzanne Bucknam, CEO of Connecticut Explorer.
If you thought the only way to get an education at the airport was to pop into Hudson News to buy a book, think again. “SFO has several ‘Kids Spots’ which are great for keeping little ones entertained and are available 24 hours a day. The Aviation Museum and Library is free to use and open daily from 10:00am to 4:30pm,” says Bucknam. Amsterdam Schiphol hosts the Rijksmuseum Schiphol, where visitors can enjoy free access to beautiful paintings 24 hours a day. Many other airports have museum and cultural exhibitions available, such as St Louis and Lanzarote. If you’re not sure what your airport may have on offer, a quick Google search should point you in the right direction.
Take a Moment of Reflection
If quiet reflection or prayer is what you’re seeking on a given day, you can find that at an airport, too. “Many airports have interfaith chapels and meditation rooms which allow you to enjoy a moment of calm amongst the chaos. Services are usually free, although you may choose to make a small donation. Having somewhere peaceful to sit and collect your thoughts can be incredibly helpful, especially on a long journey,” says Bucknam.
Read a Book or See A Film
If you don’t want to pay $20 for a book that you might not like, your can check out airport libraries or book swapping options. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has a library, complete with a grand piano. Likewise, Helsinki Airport has a free book swap room that’s open 24 hours. And free entertainment may also be available, depending on where you land. Airports such as Portland International Airport offer free movies, while Seattle Airport has frequent free music performances.
Enjoy Live Music
We all know so many airports that play the same playlist all day and all night. It can be pretty repetitive. And annoying, particularly if you’re listening to it because of a missed connection. But the tunes don’t always have to be bad. Airports like Seattle-Tacoma and Austin-Bergstrom offer live music – and it’s free!
Check Out A Lounge
Shoutout to credit card holders who have airport lounges included with their annual membership fee. Depending on which card you carry, there can be many benefits attached to your card that can get you into a lounge that offers a slightly more calm environment with slightly better (and certainly cheaper!) food. Some lounges even offer extras like massages and showers… and all of them come with ample outlets for charging devices, and cleaner bathrooms than what’s available to the public. (Because sometimes all you really need is just some nice hot water, fancy soap and a thick hand towel.)
Snag Free Wifi
A few years ago, this was something of a dream, as many airports made passengers pay for pricey packages to log-on while they await their flight. But that’s no longer the case. The HerMoney staff has yet to encounter an airport that doesn’t offer free wifi, which can help pass the time between flights in a major way.
Fill Up Your Water Bottle
Be on the lookout for drinking fountains that also offered a station to get filtered-water for your water bottles or tumblers. In other words, BYO empty bottle when you fly (any kind will do) and skip the pricey bottled Evian at the gift shop, which you know is probably going to run you at least $5. And, for those who are extra-sensitive to germs right now, airports including San Francisco International, Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson even offer refill stations with hand-free sensors.
Get At Least Two Free Luggage Tags
These are available at almost every airport in case you forgot to put one on your luggage. “This can often be the difference between losing your luggage for a few hours, and it being lost for days,” says Tim White, the CEO and Founder of MilePro. And pro tip: If you’re looking at that flimsy paper luggage tag and thinking that it couldn’t possibly hold up to the jostling of bags in the belly of the beast, take a minute to fill out two: One for the outside of your bag, and one to tuck inside. (Because the only thing worse than losing your bags for a few days is losing them permanently to the Unclaimed Baggage Depot in Alabama.)
Enjoy Free City Tours
If you’ve got several hours for your layover with no book to catch up on and no work to knock out, then there’s no reason to just blindly roam the airport. Instead, you can use the time as an opportunity to explore a new city. “If you have a layover of two hours or more at Salt Lake City International Airport, you can get a free shuttle ride to and from Temple Square and enjoy a free tour of the 35-acre historic site,” says White. Overseas, Singapore’s Changi Airport also offers city tours as does Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo’s Narita Airport. No matter where you land, take a look at how quickly you can get to the city center and see a few things before completing the next leg of your journey. You might be surprised what you find.
Pet Some Therapy Animals
Ever had a long flight delay that just made you want to hug your puppy? Execs in charge of airports had the same feeling, and now many airports, including LAX, have therapy pups available for visits and cuddles. And at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, there’s even miniature therapy horses. How cool is that?
Zone Out On An iPad
Delta’s terminals at LGA and JFK in NYC have a fun new perk: iPads. Yes, technically these exist so that you can order food at various restaurants and gate areas in the terminal, but they’re also fully functional for everything from web browsing and checking your email, to streaming video and playing games. And while an iPad may not sound like the greatest perk in the world, if you’ve been stuck in the airport for hours, finished your book and tried a restaurant or two, a little Tetris could be just what the doctor ordered.
- Is Now The Time To Book Travel for 2022 + 2023?
- 6 Full-Time Travelers On How They Stick To Their Budget Goals
- 6 Strategic Ways To Save On Summer Travel This Year
- The Best Cruise Deals For The End Of 2022
SUBSCRIBE: Looking for more financial insights in a judgment free zone? Subscribe to HerMoney today!