Whether you are a seasoned traveler or it will be your first time venturing outside of your comfort zone, these tips will make your trip so much easier! It’s time to get out there and see the world (or maybe the town over)! And whenever you find yourself in a pickle, refer back to these hacks! You know what they say: the more the merrier! And this goes for wisdom too! Go explore! Content has been edited for clarity.
Before, During, After
“Travel Hacks Before You Leave
1. Instead of a hotel, look into reserving a home if traveling with a family or a single room if alone. Websites like Airbnb can provide homes and private rooms from homeowners who are renting them out, usually offering better accommodations than hotels.
2. Roll your clothes when packing. Instead of creating a folded pile in your suitcase, rolling allows you to fit more things in. Plus, you can even roll underwear and socks within your clothes for optimal space-saving.
3. Scan your passport, identification card, and itinerary and email them to yourself. This provides an extra copy of each in the event of loss or theft. As an iPhone user, once I email the documents to myself, I usually open the email on my iPhone and save them onto iBooks. This provides me with an offline record.
4. It’s important to remember to call your credit or debit card company before you leave to ensure that you have your card authorized for your foreign destination. This prevents them from suspecting suspicious activity.
5. Mark your baggage as fragile. This is a tip I learned a while ago from a friend who found it to be a great way to ensure that your baggage is handled correctly. Your luggage is kept at the top because of this, which will make it one of the first bags to be released.
Travel Hacks For the Departure
6. Bring your own water bottle. Depending on the airline’s own policies regarding drink costs, the amount of times water is offered may not be to your liking. Having your own water bottle ensures that you have water when you want it. When they do come around, top off your bottle with what they give you.
7. Never underestimate the value of a fanny pack. Yes, they can be embarrassing and seemingly out of the mid-to-late 1980s, but trust me—every time I travel, even domestically, it has ensured that my valuables are safe, and it expedites security checks.
8. Splurge on Internet service if your flight is more than six-and-a-half hours long. You’ll thank me when you find that sparking conversation with your seat partner is harder than pulling teeth. Plus, you can complete work for the last time before you hit your destination.
9. Ensure that you have a pen before leaving home so you can complete customs forms. Fill the forms out when you get them, and ensure that your family members have theirs filled as well. People will clamor for your pen; flight attendants rarely have them.
10. 20 minutes before you land, sprint for the bathroom. Usually, when the seatbelt light comes on, I’ve found that you still have 15 minutes of leeway until you truly have to be seated. Use this opportunity to relieve yourself to prevent fighting for restrooms when you land.
Travel Hacks When You Arrive
11. Dart directly for baggage claim. It is amazing how many people seem to lollygag after landing. Save that for someplace else to save yourself time and to prevent any arguments with fellow travelers.
12. Use ATMs to get local currency. Using money converters in the airport usually come with their own fees and the exchange rates are a rip-off. ATMs always dispense local currency, of course, so use your debit or credit card and get your money there.
13. Ensure that you have Yelp downloaded for domestic travel in the US. This is a great city guide for both travelers and locals alike and is the best way to find the most amazing places to eat and sightsee.
14. Shop for groceries when you arrive. You don’t have to shop for a feast, but getting basics like water and a few snacks in local stores instead of at the hotel can save you a ton.
15. When in your room, remove only the necessities from your luggage. Trying to make yourself at home by taking out every pair of shoes and all of your toiletries will only make repacking torture, and it increases your chances of forgetting something when it’s time to go home.
Exploring Your New Location
16. Use guidebooks sparingly. I recommended Yelp because it allows you to discover a few places off the beaten path. Guidebooks only presents you with tourist spots; even those that advertised themselves as being off the beaten path.
17. Use the local language as much as possible. It reflects well not only on you but also on Americans/your nationality in general. It shows you are willing to make the effort, which can work in your favor in some situations.
18. Have a souvenir list prepared, and stick to it. This will save you money and prevent you from purchasing something that “you’ll find someone to give to another time”.
19. Eat locally only. Save McDonalds, if you have to eat it in any location, for when you’re home. Trying the local cuisine will save you more money and allow you to experience new and flavorful meals.
20. “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is a general saying that I like to translate it as, “don’t be a stubborn traveler, and get out of your comfort zone”. If a country advises modest dress, for example, follow through. It can even ensure your safety as a foreigner.
Travel Hacks for Returning Home
21. If you are a frequent traveler, live out of your toiletry bag and keep it packed. This will allow the packing process to be a bit easier and will prevent you from having to make expensive toiletry purchases if you forget something.
22. Use IFTTT when sharing traveling photos to make it seamless and easy. ‘Recipes’ like sharing automatically to Dropbox or Evernote will allow you automatically to have a copy of your precious photos.
23. Unpack immediately when you enter the door. You may be tired out of your mind, but you’ll be glad you did it in the morning. Plus, it saves your luggage from smelling like soiled laundry.
The travel hacks above have helped me on my busy travel year this year, and I hope they will provide some assistance to you. Let us know in the comments below which travel hack was your favorite. Also, let us know if there are any travel hacks, not mentioned above that have proved successful for you.”
Unexpected Best Thing
“McDonald’s. Mcdonald’s is about the most helpful thing on the face of the planet for people who travel light and cheap.
- Wifi. In plenty of countries getting a SIM card for your phone is a pain in the butt. (In some it isn’t. In fact, Geocell in the Republic of Georgia has a SIM card specifically for travelers.) But in plenty of countries, it’s basically impossible if you are traveling. McDonalds has free wifi all around the world and it is reasonably reliable. And also accessible without buying anything if you want. Just stand outside with everybody else and lunch off it.
- Workspace. Sometimes I freelance when I’m abroad. Not only does McDonalds have reasonably reliable wifi, it usually has accessible plugs and plenty of space to spread out in.
- Toilets. They are usually completely accessible, even without buying anything.
- English-speaking staff. Not all the time, but in 98% of cases, somebody on the staff is going to speak English well. This is very helpful if you are lost and the somewhat reliable internet is having an unreliable moment.
I actually spend much more time in McDonald’s when I’m traveling abroad than when I’m in the States.”
“I started traveling in my early twenties. I started solo travel around 26 and as a woman, my first concern is always my safety. I spend a good amount of time looking into the place I’m about to visit and whether I can afford decent accommodation in a safe area of the city/town/locality I’m about to travel to. Other than that, here are some general hacks and tips I’ve picked up from being a frequent traveler:
- Be on time for your scheduled transportation. Missing it, especially in a foreign country, can turn out to be a nightmare.
- Go to the bathroom right before you start your trip.
- Drink tons of water. Temperatures vary around the world and you might end up in places where you can get dehydrated quickly because you are not used to the climate. Always pack a water bottle. Always.
- Pack a small first-aid and sewing kit and an extra toothbrush. –
- Always carry extra underwear.
- Pack your bag strategically. Bring a backpack and use it as a carry-on.
- Use a flexible vacuum bag to keep your clothes fresh, wrinkle-free, and tidy.”
Quality Over Quantity
- “Plan whatever you can beforehand, don’t wait for the last moment, as you visit an unknown place. You can land in unwanted trouble. So be prepared and gain information about the place you are visiting.
- Do not overpack, carry what you are actually going to wear or use and stick to it.
- Don’t spend unnecessarily, you are out to travel rather focus on experiences, creating memories, talking to localites.
- Focus on creating images in your head rather than wasting time clicking a lot of pictures and then you have to waste time selecting the best ones.
- Look for exposure, try new things, overcome fears, discussing vulnerabilities.
- Try keeping your demands and expectations low, don’t create an unnecessary scene regarding services and quality, etc. Try to catch the mood not spoil the mood. You are not in the comfort of your house, you are out to explore try coming out of your nest of comfort.
- Bargain where ever you can as tourist places already hike up prices for everything.
- Keep limited cash with you.
- Eat local food, at those small popular eating joints.
- Always drink clean filtered water, water-borne diseases are common after travel.
- Keep usual medicines handy. Antibiotics, pain killers, paracetamol, Dettol, bandages, etc
- As a female, I can not stress enough about keeping wet wipes, pee-safe options, using clean washrooms.
- Stay welcoming, don’t be a moron. Be nice to everyone around and be ready to adjust. Embrace the change.
- Learn whatever you can from this new place you are at. At least something.
- Prepare a map for the places you are going to visit. Keep it simple. Don’t try covering every other place, quality over quantity.”