Most people travelling to and from different countries prefer to leave themselves some wiggle room when it comes to time and money. As you head back to the airport, ready to catch your flight home, you’re likely to find yourself with some time to kill and currency to spare.
The simplest thing to do would be to sit back or doze off at the boarding area, after exchanging your remaining cash for your home currency. But somehow exchange rates never seem to work in our favour, and lounging around gets boring when you could do so much more. For instance, exploring and shopping at Changi Airport, recognised as the world’s finest, is one of the best ways to wrap up an enjoyable Singapore visit.
Regardless of where you are, here are some ideas on how to better spend your time and excess cash before departure.
For most, the airport experience is simply about navigating your way through arrivals and departures. But the world’s major airports are increasingly offering amenities and attractions to keep guests entertained, particularly during long layovers. They not only keep visitors occupied but serve up a great impression of the country, especially to first-time travellers.
Not every airport boasts of swimming pools and fountains, indoor gardens, or child-friendly mazes and slides – so if you find such attractions nearby, go and enjoy yourself! A quick stop by the information desk or some online research will reveal any hidden gems that your current location has to offer.
Duty-free shopping means you get to buy items from the retailer without import tax being applied. However, it’s important to consider the two-way journey; sometimes, when you get home, domestic regulations will require you to declare your items at customs and thus pay import duties in your country. In addition, the weight of some items can factor into your baggage allowance and generally make it inconvenient to carry them around.
Enter makeup, cosmetics, and fragrances. There’s a reason why you often see international luxury brands setting up shop along with airport duty-free areas; they are often subject to high import taxes, so shoppers get to avail of big discounts for lightweight items that they’ll be using anyway.
Something that helps in maximising your duty-free shopping is price awareness. Many factors come into play when determining the retail price of consumer electronics across different countries. If you check prices online beforehand, you can find that prices on a Macbook, for instance, might be $200 cheaper in Singapore than in Japan. Snapping up cameras, phones, or travel essentials like cables and charges can always be a good deal.
Could you pass up on the chance to have a real parting taste of the country you just visited? Put yourself in a good mood for the flight home and go all out with the rest of your currency at a restaurant that offers some local cuisine. You could go for serendipity, but there’s no harm looking up some reviews to make sure your farewell meal is an excellent one.
Besides dining, you may want to buy some local snacks to enjoy on the way home, or as a small gift to friends and family. Food may be ephemeral, but it’s a great way to experience a little bit of a country’s unique flavours and traditions.
So before you get a headache running exchange rates, or stifle yawns looking at the time left until boarding, give your legs a stretch and have a look around the airport – there could be any number of better ways to spend your excess time and money before you head home.