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.
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.
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.
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.
Off the grid
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.
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
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.
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
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:
A6) Shortcut for creating offline maps in Google Maps: type “OK Maps” into the search bar and just click save #TL_Chat
— Google Travel Team (@GoogleTravel) July 22, 2014
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Are there any travel tips you would add to the list? Share them in the comments below!
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