I am travelling overseas. It is going probably involve 2 layovers, first transferring between international flights, then transferring from international to domestic.

I am really busy just before I leave so want to see what I can avoid doing, until I am stuck waiting for flights.

Last time I travelled overseas (About a decade ago as a teen), I noticed that airports had many shops. But I don't know how reasonable the prices are there.

  • Can I buy power adapters?
  • Can I change my money?
  • Are their other tasks that I might think I need to do before I go, but I could actually do on my way.

Or do all the places in the airport charge a premium?

  • 3
    Is there a specific reason you want to change money? A bit of pocket change for a coffee/taxi/transfer when you arrive can perhaps be useful but otherwise you should just get cash from an ATM.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 7:42
  • 1
    How could I use an ATM in another country, where my bank does not exist? I can't get cash out of a credit card. Perhaps I should ask another question, to findout how that works. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 8:26
  • 4
    It depends a bit on what specific card(s) you have but usually that's not a problem at all, you can easily use other banks' ATM and that's the cheapest way to get foreign currency cash. You could indeed ask a question about that, just be sure to mention the specifics (country/bank/network).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 8:38
  • 3
    Most bank cards work in most countries ATMs - although there are fees involved. If your card features Cirrus/Visa/Mastercard logos, odds are even further improved.
    – CMaster
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 12:58
  • 2
    Donn't. Places in airports always charge a hefty premium. They have to, since rent in airports is quite high. It's primarily targeted at people who have no choice (need it now, can't get out) or for whom money is no object.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 14:28

4 Answers 4


A lot depends on where you are going and where you have your layover.

If you are going somewhere quite expensive and stopping somewhere cheap, then maybe you could get things like a plug adapter at a better price (even with the airport premium). Doing the reverse, then wait til you get to your destination.

Of course then there is the issue as to whether the intermediate stop will sell adapters that work with your home plug and your destination's sockets.

Changing money, definitely something to do during your 2nd layover between international and domestic. Changing money at home or during your first layover is a bad idea as the exchange rates will be poorer.

Once you reach your destination, changing at the airport versus changing at a bank in downtown versus using an ATM depends on what country you are in.

Best course of action, relax, grab a bite to eat or drink, have a shower. Give yourself some time off from "work".

  • 6
    I'd expect to get a much better exchange rate from my own bank at home than from a currency exchange in an airport. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 9:11
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby Buying foreign currency anywhere other than in that country usually means bad exchange rates, particular at banks. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 10:30
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby - Exchanging money at your destination almost always gives a better rate. Perhaps your UK bank might offer better rates for Euros than the exchange window in Orly offers for pounds, but that is the exception not the norm.
    – user13044
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 10:50
  • 3
    I'd say that airports nearly always offer the worst rates.
    – CMaster
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 12:57
  • 5
    @Tom the rule about the destination having better rates doesn't apply when traveling to the US or the Eurozone, as those are the world's major reserve currencies.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 15:33

Yes airports always charge a premium. People mostly buy stuff there because they're bored or absolutely have no choice. Though probably for the money-changing bit you could be ok, but as stated in the comment it's better to just use the ATM at the arriving airport anyway. Unless you need power immediately, you can also just buy a power adapter in the country you arrive in. Hotels and hostels usually have a lot of leftovers too that you can borrow.


It is better to do what you can before you set off, because you don't know that your journey is actually going to follow the itinerary the airline gave you. There may be delays or cancellations or you might be re-routed, leaving you with no time except running from one plane to another.

Sometimes you can find a good deal on alcohol or tobacco but you do need to know what a good deal is before you see it. And be aware that you may be liable for duty if you exceed whatever allowance you're permitted.

I used to use the layover time to get extra work done, but these days I sit back with a beer and browse Stack Exchange instead.

  • 1
    indeed. It also happens that delays and departure times means that airport stores are closed while there.
    – Itai
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 16:34
  • Given the amount my home country taxes alcohol and tobacca (not that I want that) it is practically impossible not to get a relatively good deal on them, duty free -- but that is for the return journey. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 0:34

Reasonable tasks to do on a layover:

  • Work
  • Find entertainment
  • Eat
  • Sleep (have a good plan to wake up) or stay in a day room.

I prefer not to buy things other than necessities (food, medicine) at a layover airport, especially things I'll want at my destination:

  • Anything I buy on layover is one more thing I have to manage on the planes.
  • It may not be compatible with my destination. Even if the store staff says it is. Oh, and good luck with a return.

Regarding changing money:

  • Read this on travel.stackoverflow.com

The one thing I would recommend you purchase at your destination airport is a SIM. The staff should be very familiar dealing with foreign travelers and, if there's a special 'visitors/tourist' SIM, it will be easier to get there.

  • 1
    I wouldn't recommend sleeping. I took a nap on the first row next to the gate during a layover for an exchange program, and end up being stranded in Germany for three days before I could get a flight home.
    – Morgen
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 18:49

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