The ultimate list of little-known travel hacks

They say it’s all about the journey, not the destination—which is a quote I think anyone who has ever been on a plane before fully disagrees with. Getting set to head off on the adventure of a lifetime can be downright painful, what with the endless security regulations, delays and the madness of trying to fit four week’s worth of clothes into one suitcase.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the ultimate travel hacks that will make your next trip that much easier.

BOOKING

Join the club

Joining loyalty programs and applying for credit cards with huge point sign-up bonuses are singlehandedly the best way to travel for free. Yes, free! For example, Hotels.com gives its Welcome Rewards program members every 10th night free, while hotel loyalty programs sometimes include perks like complimentary upgrades, Wi-fi or breakfast. If you’re smart with your finances, signing up for credit cards with no annual fee and a big sign-up bonus can set you on the fast track to flying first class for pennies.

READ MORE: Travel hacking 101: How to fly first class for free

Nothing but the best

Most hotel chains have a best-rate guarantee, which means that they will either match or beat the lowest advertised price you find anywhere else. Usually it means a savings of 10-25%, but if you’re lucky enough to find a property owned by the InterContinental Hotels Group they’ll match the lower price PLUS give you the first night free.

READ MORE: The secret to getting luxury hotel rooms for half price

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Timing is everything

There is an easy way to save loads of money before you even hit the airport: travel in shoulder season. Avoiding peak periods like school breaks and holidays means less crowds, better room availability (a free upgrade, perhaps?) and more attentive staff. In many destinations the shoulder seasons are September-November and March-May.

RELATED: 10 camping tricks that will make your life easier

Off the grid

When searching for flights online, airlines use cookies to track your behaviour, and may raise the price as you search- sneaky! To get around it, change your internet settings from ‘public’ to ‘private browsing.’

travel hacking

Shutterstock

PACKING

Smell ya later

Layer dryer sheets among your clothes as you pack your suitcase. They’ll help fight off that nasty airplane smell that inevitably seeps into all your clothes, and will keep them smelling fresh for weeks. Also, bring travel-size packs of laundry detergent to easily wash clothes in the hotel sink instead of hunting down a laundromat.

The best packing accessory

Not even lying, my life changed when I discovered packing cubes. These zippered contraptions may only look like little bags, but they have quite the knack for being able to condense your clothes and free up more space in that carry-on. As a bonus, they also keep everything tres organized if you group by shirts, pants, toiletries, etc. Also, make sure to roll your garments as you pack—not only does it save space, but it also cuts down on wrinkles.

READ MORE: Globe Guide’s tried and tested, all-time favourite travel accessories

I managed to fit 3 weeks worth of clothes in this carry-on thanks to packing cubs- and still had room left over!

I managed to fit three weeks worth of clothes in this carry-on thanks to packing cubes- and still had room left over!


The fake out

Being mugged is frightening enough, but it can also wreak havoc on your travel plans if the crook gets away with important things like your passport or only credit card. To cut back on the risk, carry around a fake wallet. Throw in things like a deactivated bank card, library card and a few American dollars, and hand that over if you get robbed. Chances are it will look real enough that the bastard won’t take the time to check the rest of your pockets.

READ MORE: How to avoid getting robbed while travelling

Pashmina power

This one’s for the ladies. A pashmina is the best use of space in your bag, thanks to its versatility. Use it as a blanket on the plane, a shawl or head cover if you’re cold or in a conservative place, added protection to wrap around your camera, even a towel if it comes down to it.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

ON THE ROAD

Tweet your troubles

If you’ve ever tried phoning an airline to resolve a problem, you know how mind-numbingly frustrating the whole process can be—and that’s when you’re finally taken off hold. Enter Twitter. The social networking tool is a fantastic way to get the attention of airlines in the event you’ve been delayed, need to make a change, are missing frequent flyer points, etc. As a bonus, the response is usually faster than you’d even get at the airport customer service counter.

READ MORE: Why Twitter is a traveller’s best friend

travel hacking

Shutterstock

Keep the change

When you pull out foreign currency, the bank will likely give it to you in big bills. Break them down as soon as possible. Not only will you need small change for things like tips or bus fare, but it can actually end up saving you money. There have been a number of times where I’m bartering with someone, and when I pull out my wallet to pay I’m short a few dollars and they end up taking it anyway. That’s a much better alternative to haggling over a few bucks, then handing over a big bill and waiting around for the change like an idiot!

Off the grid

A map should be in every traveller’s arsenal, but sometimes the electronic version is easier to understand than the hard copy the hotel hands out. But unless you want to get hit with crazy roaming fees or spring for a data plan, turning on your phone’s GPS is sometimes out of the question. Enter Google Maps. Simply open up the map when you’re connected to free Wi-fi, and you’ll be able to access it even when you’re wandering around without an internet connection.

This works too:

RELATED: Top 10 mistakes people make when renting a car

travel hacking

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Are there any travel tips you would add to the list? Share them in the comments below!

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30 Responses

  1. Carolin says:

    Great little list of things, especially love the “Tweet your troubles”, it’s so true social media has become so powerful that if you can’t reach people in any other way this is where you definitely will! Oh and Google Maps is great, I will travel to Myanmar at the end of the month and Internet is not the best there and international roaming is said to not work at all, so offline maps will come in very handy 🙂

    • Wow, that sounds like it will be quite the adventure! Truth be told I’m not sure how well the maps feature will work in a more undeveloped place like that-I’d be interested to hear your experience after!

  2. Solid advice. I’ve yet to try packing cubes but have seen them mentioned lots. I need to set my browser to private, doing it now.

  3. Great post! And packing cubes? Couldn’t go anywhere without them! Except we didn’t pay the $20 odd or whatever they each cost – we use the plastic zippered bags in which sheets and pillowcases are sold. It’s probably even less expensive to buy several sets of budget-priced linens at Winners just for the plastic zippered cases :-).

    • Ah very sneaky! I’ve seen a lot of variations of packing cubes on the market, so I definitely think that as they become more popular they’re getting less expensive. Thanks for sharing!

      • Alex says:

        I just got mine off eBay they were very cheap only 10 pound for a set of 3 and have totally been worth it in my 3 year backpacking trip.

  4. Mackenzie says:

    Great advice! Especially the liquor idea… I never thought about that before! I’ve never really been one to drink on the plane but I’ll definitely have to pass that hack on 😉

  5. Andrew says:

    Love this, google maps is clutch

  6. David says:

    Good hacks I’ve used many our serfs as we travel around the world.

  7. Stacey says:

    I like to carry a backpack on the plane for all my “stuff.” So instead of a purse AND a backpack, I just pack my empty purse in my suitcase.

  8. Some really helpful and little known travel hacks…I love the idea of using Twitter when in trouble…..It really works….I can remember how effective Sachin Tendulkar’s tweet was when one of his luggage was lost…..

  9. JOSEPH L. says:

    I recently come across “Nomadic Matt” website, it suggests readers like us to buy the travel hacking book for $30.0, so the book will show us how to save a lot of mone9 on travel. Do you think it is worth to buy the book, or just reading your forum for the same thing.

    Thank you,
    Joseph L.

    • Hi Joseph. I actually haven’t read his book so I can’t comment on what’s in it versus what you can find online. However, there are definitely lots of fantastic, free online resources such as this website that offer lots of tips and tricks. Thanks for reading!

  10. Chris says:

    I’m telling you the packing cubes & dryer sheets make it SO much better! Also use a pillow case as one of the “packing cubes” then use it as a pillowcase again at your overnight destination if you’re uncertain about the cleanliness of your bedlinens… it happens, you know it does!

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