53 Easy Travel Hacks Every Traveler Must Know
Getting away is never easy.
Here are 53 easy travel hacks every traveler must know to help you get away quickly and easily whether traveling for business or pleasure.
From packing your luggage the "ideal" way to hustling your way through hectic airport terminals, here's everything you need.
Call me positive, deluded, conceited...whatever you like, but below are all the traveling hacks you'll ever need. From guaranteeing you never miss a deal on the trip of a lifetime to making sure your electronic devices are constantly functioning to treating yourself to a little VIP treatment, it's all right here.
Set up a price watch app months beforehand
It may feel too early to prepare for July 4th weekend, but when is the very best (i.e. most inexpensive) time to book a trip?
Register for a travel app like Hopper and let them tell you when the price is right. The fact is that there's no "right" time to purchase your flight. Not six months out. Not 4 months out. Not 2 weeks early. Experienced vacationers set an alert and let the best price come to them.
Switch on 'Private Browsing' for less expensive flights
Airline companies and travel sites can watch your searches by installing cookies on your browser.
This can cause the prices you're shown to rise simply because you've looked at the same tickets before. This will fool you into buying early to avoid the price rising further. Setting your browser to private (or incognito) browsing will take care of this.
Try booking separate flights
Sometimes you can score cheaper tickets when you shop for one-way tickets using multiple carriers instead of only searching for round-trip flights with the same company.
This will also allow you to apply reward miles to one leg when you don't have enough to cover the full round trip.
When traveling in a group, compare prices you get separately versus as a group. Sometimes there may only be a few discounted tickets and reservation platforms will price group tickets all the same (at the higher price) rather than using up all the discounted fares and giving the higher price to the remaining passengers.
Email yourself a scan of your passport
You'll thank yourself if you're ever a victim of theft or loss. It's also worth taking a screenshot of any journey confirmations. If you've booked any flights, buses or trains, whether you're on your phone, laptop or tablet, make sure you screenshot them while you have Wi-Fi or internet access so you can access them when you're no longer connected. So much easier than lugging around printouts.
As travel hacks go, this is one you don't want to ignore in case anything goes wrong.
Use the 24-hour rule
If you want an impromptu trip, go ahead and book your flight with the best rate you can find as soon as you've got your dates picked.
But get this: if you find a better price within 24 hours, you can cancel your reservation and get a full refund without any "booking fees." It's a federal rule. And some airlines, like American, will even let you cancel if you've booked just two days in advance of your flight.
As always, though, be sure to read the fine print. If you book with a third party ticketing service, there are likely exceptions. If you book directly with an airline instead of an intermediary booking agent, the 24-hour policy is usually guaranteed.
Buy a portable phone charger
Yeah, alright, this one might seem a little simplistic, but it's very useful.
Essentially these act as an external battery you can charge separately using a USB connector or even replenish with a store bought battery. Worth having one of these in reserve in case an emergency arises while your phone is out of juice.
Redeem your credit card rewards
Every year credit cardholders leave approximately 31% of people don't use their reward points every year, according to NBC News.
Check your credit card accounts and see if you can use any of your points or miles to pay for travel expenses. Plan ahead and apply for travel rewards cards with generous sign-up bonuses in preparation for your next vacation.
Pre-order your airport meal
You've planned ahead for everything else about your trip, why not pick your airport food as well?
The Grab app lets you order your meal in advance, so you can pick it up as you're walking by on the way to your gate without having to rely on a day-old tuna salad wrap from the Hudson News fridge. No lines, no wait, no problem.
Protect your cables and cords with pen springs
Everyone wants to be connected constantly. That means we all have way too many cords in our lives! And if you travel much at all, a bunch of those are probably frayed...here's how to avoid that problem!
Use a simple pen spring. Just pry open a regular retractable pen, pop out the spring, and wrap it around your cord or cable. Your cord is now much more durable.
Buy a dummy wallet to confuse pickpockets
Get yourself a dummy wallet to trick those dishonest types. Make sure it contains a suitably offensive note and a very, very grim and disturbing picture of your choosing. Then hide your real wallet somewhere cunning and close to your person, like in an ankle holster or waist belt.
Get free travel insurance
If you're traveling to another country or if your vacation costs more than $5,000, you should probably have travel insurance. That doesn't mean you always have to pay for it, however.
Some credit cards provide free travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your travel expenses. For example, always use a card that includes a rental insurance waiver for paying for your car rental.
Get all the freebies as a market researcher
Free meals, films, drinks; all kinds of stuff. Companies all over the world are looking for people to try out their wares, test their stuff and give honest feedback. It involves very little work and is pretty enjoyable, really, so why not apply to be a market researcher in the country you're travelling and get a bunch of free stuff?
Remember where you parked
Take a picture of where you parked your car before entering the airport. The longer the trip, the more thankful you'll be. But I even do it on 1 or 2 day trips anymore...getting older stinks!
Talk to your bank
Call your credit card company before traveling so they don't lock down your account due to charges coming from new and different places.
Packing Like an Expert
Roll your clothes rather than folding them
This saves 3X the space! This is one of the oldest and most reliable travel hacks there is.
Rather than folding your garments, roll them up into a little tube. This conserves a lot of room and avoids creases and wrinkles as well. If you're not doing this already, you're losing a great deal of space in your bags.
If you have lot of stuff to carry wear cargo pants
You can use the pockets as mini luggage! If you have a lot of things to carry, consider wearable luggage. There are special travel jackets like this one that can hold a ton of stuff as well!
Just remember, though, you're going to have to take them off or empty them out at security, so take that into consideration!
Mark your baggage as fragile
Not only does this mean your bag is (hopefully) more likely to be handled correctly, but it'll also find itself at the top of pile in the storage compartment of the plane.
The result? Why, you'll get your bag back first, of course. Jackpot.
Use a binder clip to protect razors
This is one I can't advocate enough! When travelling Japan by bullet train, I was fumbling in my backpack pocket for some gum and managed to drag my knuckles across the entire length of my shaving razor. The bleeding started almost immediately as I rushed to the get something to stop it.
Cover your blades and avoid the hassle and embarrassment!
Control your cables
This is absolutely brilliant and amazingly simple! Pack your charger and headphones neatly inside a hardshell glasses case, so the cords don't tangle.
Refill travel-size toiletries
Only those who don't plan ahead travel with full-size bottles of shampoo and shaving cream. But buying miniatures for every trip seems insane. You're not buying a new set for every trip, are you?
So here's a better way: Refill your tiny bottles and use them again and again and again.
Add some dryer sheets to your suitcase
Dryer sheets are the most versatile travel accessory. They can do everything from keep your clothes fresh while traveling (just slip a sheet or two into your suitcase) to deodorize stinky shoes or freshen up a hotel pillowcase or bathroom.
Don't let you face crack
When packing, place a cotton swab inside blush, eye shadow, and powder foundation so they don't crack.
Don't lose your shape
Put rolled socks inside your shoes to save space, and to preserve your shoes' shape and save space in your bag.
Bring a jacket
Packing a jacket in the middle of summer always feels like a pain. But forgetting a jacket for air travel is like camping without a sleeping bag. A jacket makes going through security easier (it's a great place to store your phone, wallet, keys, glasses, and other loose items during screening), and it's a perfect makeshift blanket or pillow for the flight.
Make your fragrances invincible
By transferring your perfume or aftershave to a smaller, plastic spray top bottle you can save space and eliminate the danger of breaking the bottle while you travel. Think something the size of a throat or antiseptic spray.
Keep your jewelry looking nice
Use straws to pack your jewelry, so they don't end up a tangled mess.
Keep your shirts collars crisp
Insert a rolled up belt in the shirt collar so it remains crisp and stiff.
Keep your suit jacket looking nice
Pack your jackets inside out to prevent wrinkles.
Pack a first-aid kit
It's easy to remember things like aspirin for things like headaches. But what about slightly more pressing emergencies that don't exactly require a visit to the ER? Pack Band-Aids, antibacterial cream, stomach antacids, cold meds, and throat lozenges.
Make sure to plan for the small health annoyances that only require a pharmacy visit...who has time for that on vacation?
Find your bags fast
Tie a small, brightly-colored ribbon to your baggage so you can easily spot it when picking it up from baggage claim.
Hotel Tips & Trcks
Charge your electronics via a TV
Lost or forgotten the plug for your phone or electronics charger?
No worries, a lot of contemporary TVs have a USB connector on the back or side. Just plug in your electric device and start charging those batteries without buying another power block.
Never ever pay for water at the airport
Everyone knows you can't take drinks through security. But that doesn't mean you can't skip paying $4 for a bottle of water...
Take an empty water bottle with you and, after you've been through security, stop and fill it up. You'll have plenty to drink and it will be free!
Pick the right airplane seat
When you're traveling with another person, sit in aisle and window seats leaving the middle seat free. You're more likely to travel with an empty middle seat all throughout since people generally avoid the middle seat.
Use ATMs/cash machines to get local currency
In this day and age it's best to use these automated bad boys to get hold of the national currency, rather than the local currency exchange/bureau de change.
Money converters usually have their own fees and rip-off exchange rates, very likely to be far worse than your bank.
Only unpack what you really need
If you're backpacking your way across the universe, then it's likely you won't be staying in one place for too long. To save on packing time, only take out what you'll definitely need in each hostel/hotel.
This will leave you free for a quick and easy escape when you're next on the verge of missing that bus.
It's only jet lag, go run it off...
One of the best ways to fight off jet lag is to exercise. Vigorous exercise is best, but even getting out and taking a walk in your new city with do wonders at helping you get over the lag; so will getting on a normal (for the time zone you're in) eating and sleeping schedule as quickly as you can.
Make real travel friends using your phone
There are a whole load of apps out there that can help you make friends out on the road without going through the anxiety of having to approach groups in person. Travel Buddies and Backpackr can help you find travelers nearby and check out their itineraries. You can even match up your personalities by checking out their public profiles.
Get your own personal departures and arrivals board
Ever get sick of straining your neck or even, God forbid, having to leave the airport bar to see the departures board at the airport? Well, thankfully modern life has done away with that ridiculous inconvenience.
Simply download FlightBoard onto your phone and experience the VIP lifestyle.
Cut your wait time in half
From the moment you leave your house to the moment you find your seat on the plane, it can feel like an eternity. But it doesn't have to be.
Waze can get you to the airport with the least amount of hassle, giving you the absolute fastest route and detours around traffic jams and accidents. And if you're at one of the 150-plus airports covered by MiFlight, that app can give you travel times for all security gates, and alerts when lines are thinning out. Combine the two to minimize your time spent in-transit.
Put your rechargeable batteries in the fridge
If you want to keep your batteries fresher and full of juice for longer, put them in the hotel fridge. It works with non-rechargeable batteries too, but the effect is more noticeable on most rechargeable batteries because they will retain 90% of their full charge when kept cold.
Give up your seat for free perks and upgrades
OK, it might not look like a cool hack on the surface, giving up your seat on that flight, but it's true what they say about karma and 'one good turn'.
When you volunteer to be bumped from an oversold flight, you could find yourself reaping a number of great benefits...free meals, drinks and accommodations, and you might get bumped up a class when you finally do make it on a flight...
You would be shocked, literally shocked, at how much more you can get—from a flight, a hotel, or a fancy restaurant by being the person who's polite rather than a self-entitled jerk. You'll get better seats, nicer treatment, maybe a drink on the house or a room with a way better view. The world really opens up.
Get the right soundtrack for 30,000 feet
Whether you're petrified by turbulence or just can't fall asleep during a long flight, stay away from mood-calming drugs.
A better idea: put on some calming ambient soundscapes and pick up the Travel Halo, a stabilizing headband that blocks out light and keeps your head balanced and upright. You'll be catching some Zs in no time.
Use Google Maps offline
Obviously you can't stick by a WiFi connection while exploring a city, which means you're going to find it impossible to access live Google Maps for that easy-peasy sat-nav style guidance for bi-pods. Thankfully, the latest versions of Google Maps now allows you to save map areas directly to your phone and call them up later to explore.
Store paper money in a lip balm tube
If somebody wants to steal from you, they're going to look for wallets or money clips, something that usually contains cold hard cash. They probably won't touch your lip balm.
Bury your belongings
Hiding your wallet or phone in a shoe while you're at the beach isn't fooling anyone. If you really want to protect your valuables while you take a dip, put them in a Ziploc bag and bury 'em like a pirate. Make sure to pick an obvious (to you) marker that won't get moved so you'll be able to find your treasure, though. It would suck to lose your stuff because you were trying so hard to protect it!
Bypass the bathroom line
While at the airport terminal, don't go for the closest bathroom to where you got off the plane, bus or train. Go to the second one you find...most of the time there's no line at all!
Don't leave bathroom breaks to chance
Taking a road trip rather than flying? Good for you. You'll save money and see more of the country. But there's still a price to pay.
When you're hungry, almost out of gas, or just downright desperate, figuring out when and where to pull over can be an exercise in futility—unless your phone is loaded with the right apps. SitOrSquat doesn't just tell you where the nearest bathrooms are, but whether any of them are disgusting.
You'll also need the iExit app, which alerts you to every upcoming service stop, not just what's advertised on highway billboards.
Get cash for non refundable reservations
Have your travel plans changed and you're stuck with non refundable hotel rooms?
There are sites like RoomerTravel.com and Cancelon that help you sell your non refundable reservation. These same sites are also excellent resources when you're trying to get a luxury reservation at bargain prices!
Give your phone's speaker a boost
The tiny speakers on a smartphone do a good-enough job when you're on the go, but when you're looking to set the scene in your hotel room, you might need a bass line with a little more oomph. For better sound, cut a phone-size slit into the middle of a used toilet paper roll, slip your phone inside and presto: instant speakers.
You can also put the speaker on your phone into a glass bowl or shallow jar to use as a sound reflector as well.
Make sure you're not sleeping on somebody's dirty sheets
Here's a way to find out if you're getting clean linens without using a dark light (and being utterly disgusted)...
Look for fresh crease lines on your sheets. If you see them, that means the bed was likely changed recently, and the sheets were folded a short time ago. If you can't find any, you might want to call housekeeping.
Get around like an expert
When looking for directions, try to follow the flight crew at the airport. They often know the best restaurants and the shortest ways to exits.
There are the 53 easy travel hacks every traveler must know!
So there you go...53 travel hacks to save time, frustration and money while making it easier (and more fun) to travel all over the place for business or pleasure.