Airports are strange places. They’re full of people coming and going, waiting and watching – and unless you’re boarding a flight or going through security, there isn’t much to do. We often end up making purchases in airports and on planes that we normally wouldn’t. A T-shirt from your layover in Tulsa, perfect! Duty-free? It would be silly for me to not buy a gallon of designer perfume. Impulse buys are common, but there are certain things you will only think about buying when you travel.

Overpriced last-minute souvenirs

Getting to the airport only to realise you completely forgot to stock up on souvenirs means only one thing: a brief panic session before making a mad dash for the nearest purveyor of fine local wares, such as novelty magnets and shot glasses. The goal is to find the most affordable items you can cram into your carry-on before the last boarding call. If you do your job correctly, your co-workers and friends will think they were first on your mind while island hopping. Or will at least appreciate your last-minute efforts.

Tacky T-shirts

It might have slipped your mind to pick something up for grandma on your trip to Ibiza, but there’s still time to rectify the situation. T-shirts can be easily transported in your hand luggage and, hopefully, grandma is a fan of tequila-drinking frogs wearing sombreros. (Pro tip: wrap the above shot glasses in said T-shirt to provide your valuables with a little added protection!).

Holiday-only paperbacks

There is something alluring about the book displays in airport convenience stores. You know what’s convenient? The Kindle tucked in your carry-on, but for some reason you can’t say no to a paperback romance novel or the latest Nicholas Sparks when they’re lit so perfectly under the fluorescent bulbs of airport terminal lighting. Chances are, it will make a nice coaster or head rest on the plane.

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Ginger ale

There are two times you drink ginger ale: when you’re convalescing from a stomach bug and onboard a plane. Why do people choose this as their beverage of choice? We can’t be sure, but we know a little Jack Daniels does it wonders. (If you’re of legal drinking age, of course!)

Comfort items you’ll never use

When confronted with the thought of a long-haul flight, travellers often become hoarders of all things comfort. Faced with 8 or more hours on a plane and there is no amount of money you will not fork over for any items that promise comfort. Neck pillows, blankets, fuzzy socks, noise-cancelling headphones, eye shades; if you forgot yours at home, you may unwittingly find yourself stockpiling items like the cosiest of doomsday preppers.

Toblerone and a tax-free bottle of whisky 

Regardless if you have a full arsenal of makeup in your luggage, or have never smoked a cigarette in your life, the mere sight of a duty-free store will have you contemplating how much money you can save by shopping tax-free.

Sudoku books

Nothing has us rearing up to flex our brain muscle like an impulse purchase of a Sudoku book. Sure, when you get on the plane the only game you’ll be playing is how fast you can drink a plastic cup of Chardonnay before you fall asleep, but when you’re still wandering around the terminal your pre-flight ambitions may get the better of you. What’s a six-letter word for “waste of money?”

Featured image: Forgemind ArchiMedia, Hong Kong Airport via Flickr CC BY 2.0

About the author

Jessica PadykulaJessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.

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