I spend a lot of time in airports. About six months of the year, you’ll find me on a Friday morning, sipping an over-priced slightly burnt soy cappuccino, reading some amazingly expensive bit of foreign press and wondering when my flight is going to be called and how can it be possible it’s been delayed again.
I’m being taken for a ride, and I know it. After all, what can you do? You’ve probably already travelled a reasonable distance, you’ve got an hour to kill and you’re hungry with no means of escape. That’s basically my idea of hell, right there.
And, of course, there’s nothing you can do about it. I heard recently that they’re looking into the prices of airport parking, and whether it contravenes any laws about monopolisation. It’s the same with the trains- the tickets are twice the price for one-tenth of the distance travelled. And unless you want to walk, there’s absolutely no way of getting out of it.
Of course, I could not buy a coffee at the airport. I realise it’s a lack of discipline on my part. It’s a practice called situational pricing, where prices take advantage of my lack of other options, my laziness and my caffeine addiction.
And, unfortunately, situational pricing is not likely to go away any time soon. How many times have you used another bank’s ATM purely because you can’t be bothered walking up the street? Or bought expensive water from a 7/11 because you were too lazy to carry it from home?
The key is to become conscious of the phenomenon, because it’s dead money. I try and eat a huge breakfast before I start travelling, although that doesn’t always compensate for the levels of boredom I experience. My own psychology feeding into the machine, as ever.
But the more aware you are, the more often you will be able to avoid those situations. Take water every where with you. Carry a thermos, or pack a lunch to a festival. Eat properly and don’t get caught out by a sudden craving for sweets in a mini-bar or at a vending machine.
And if you want more, think about these examples:
Refilling petrol at the hire car base is going to cost you above and beyond what you usually pay. Fill it yourself.
Beers at the footy. Long lines, warm beer, waste of money. Stay sober for the match and head for a couple of celebratory (or desultory) bevvies afterwards.
Food on an airplane. Low-cost airplanes don’t provide food, so bring snacks yourself before you pay a gazillion dollars for a chocolate bar.
Trinkets for the phone seem tempting at the store but wait and see if you can pick them up online more cheaply.
Hotel food and drinks is convenient, and especially easy when you can just charge it to the room, but it’ll be a sticky end to the trip should it get out of hand. Stay aware, and try and eat out.