When I've got an hour or two to kill at the airport, one of my favorite things to do is to explore the terminal shops and restaurants. With recognizable shops like Brookstone and Victoria's Secret, along with luxury brands like Cartier and Hermes, moving into terminal spaces, newer airport terminals are starting to look like shopping mall hallways. I recently found myself wandering around Reagan National, and while it's a small airport, there is still plenty to see. I thought it'd be fun to come up with a list of unexpected things you can find at airport shops, even in older terminals, like at Reagan:
If you don't already have anything to read on your tablet, airport bookstores are a great place to pick up a new book for easy reading. One of my girlfriends recently shared that reading trashy gossip magazines on airplanes her guilty pleasure. New reading material is definitely something I look forward to whenever I'm getting ready to fly.
A last-minute pillows, earplug, or painkiller purchase can be a lifesaver if you forget them on a long-haul trip. You can even find cheap carry-on luggage, like a tote or rolling duffle bag, to purchase ($20-$40 or so) at the airport.
One of my favorite items to take on an overnight flight is a scarf. It keeps me warm if there's a draft, and when I'm ready to go to sleep, I can move it up a bit to cover my nose and mouth, which always helps me rest a bit easier in the dry airplane environment. They're cheap (often around $10), and while they won't be the highest quality scarf in your closet, they'll do the trick.
When I'm packing for a different climate, I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten my sunglasses. Again, in a pinch it's easy to buy a cheap pair at the airport.
If you forget your earbuds, there is usually a good variety of headphones ranging anywhere from $20 to $100. Converters for electronics, USB and car charging cords, and cellphone cases are all usually available.
As you can see, after you cut out all the random bric-a-brac and cheesy city t-shirts, there actually are some purchases to be made, if you're willing to look for them on your next layover. If you're not in the shopping mood, you can always opt for a manicure, pedicure, or massage at one of the small terminal spas that are popping up in airports everywhere (even in Cape Town). What's your favorite thing to buy at the airport?