The better you are at planning and organizing your vacations, the simpler your travel will be. The following 100 travel hacks will help you save time, save money and enjoy better trips.
Travel Hacks for Booking Travel
Save time and money on booking travel with the following ten hacks:
1. Use multiple travel search engines to find the lowest fare. It only takes a few moments to run your search through a second and third search engine and it can save you a nice bit of money. Top search engines include Kayak, Cheaptickets and Bing Travel. Sidestep and Farechase are comparison-shopping engines that are also useful.
2. Read the news. USA Today points out that news sites often provide the best information about hot deals. They recommend themselves and their parter company Web Flyer as well as Travelzoo.com and Bestfares.com. More up-to-date news sources include phone apps (like FareCompare for iPhone) and Twitter travel news.
3. Pay attention to flight departure and arrival times. Choose flights that are close to hotel check-in and checkout times. Consider transportation issues getting to and from the airport at different times.
4. Give yourself plenty of time. Avoid scheduling trips that have you arriving just before you need to be somewhere at your destination. Give yourself time in case there are travel problems.
5. Choose your layovers wisely. Give yourself enough time to catch the second flight even if the first flight is delayed. If possible, plan your layover in one of the country’s top airports. Las Vegas, Chicago and Denver have good airports for entertaining yourself during long layovers.
7. Check fees before buying your tickets. Airplane baggage fees, in particular, aren’t included in the price of your ticket and can vary considerably from airline to airline. Look up those fees before you book your trip. Airfarewatchdog has a convenient baggage fee chart.
8. Take advantage of points and rewards. Use your frequent flier miles, credit card rewards and hotel loyalty program rewards when booking travel. Use them to buy the travel and make sure that you take advantage of racking up new rewards for booking your travel. Review them carefully to see which ones offer the best deals. For example, you may find that booking your flight through a travel tool such as the one offered for Chase credit card members is a better deal than booking the flight on another miles rewards credit card.
9. Use a credit card to book the trip. Credit cards offer financial protections that debit cards don’t offer. The New York Times reports that credit card companies are required to reimburse you for airplane trips that get canceled.
10. Check Deal-a-day sites in the weeks leading up to your trip. Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter allow you to pay a fraction of the cost for hotels, spas and activities during your trip. Only one deal is offered each day, though, and you never know what it will be so you need to start looking at these sites before the trip.
Travel Hacks for Packing
Do you envy those people who pack lightly and never forget a thing? These ten travel hacks can help:
11. Buy small clear bottles. This simplifies the process of taking any liquids of toiletries on airplanes.
12. Pack on wheels. Make travel easier on yourself by making sure that all of your luggage has wheels. Add snap-on wheels to baby seats. If you must carry a backpack without wheels, pack it with the heaviest items on top so that it sits comfortably on your back.
13. Use a suitcase divider. Separate the top items from the bottom items. If your luggage doesn’t come with a divider just use a light piece of cardboard. This simplifies the process of getting through security lines if you have to open your bags.
14. Roll your clothes. This saves room compared to folding your clothes. If you have items that need to be wrinkle free, roll them inside of tissue paper.
15. Use a ready made packing list to see if you’re missing anything. There’s a good one here.
16. Pack a change of clothes into your carryon. This gives you an extra outfit in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed.
17. Spread out books and notebooks. Don’t stack them in one spot in your bags.
18. Use luggage tags. This really makes things a lot easier in case your packed bags do get lost.
19. Check baggage restrictions. Ideally you’ll pack as little as possible. However, if you’re taking extra luggage then make sure that you’ll be able to bring it all with you. Check restrictions on weight, size and number of bags before you head to the airport.
20. Take a walk around the block with your luggage. If it’s too heavy or cumbersome to walk around your neighborhood then you’ll know in advance that you need to make some changes before the trip.
Travel Hacks for Airports and Flights
The following ten tips and tricks will simplify the entire process of dealing with airports and flights:
21. Check into your flight in advance. You can check in to your flight before you even get to the airport using mobile phones and the Internet. Continental Airlines has a good description of how the early check-in works. Take advantage of this. Print out your boarding pass and take it with you.
22. Print out your itinerary and confirmation numbers. If there’s a problem checking in then it makes it a lot easier if you have a paper copy of this information.
23. Use curbside baggage check. It only costs a dollar or two and it is usually a lot faster than waiting in line inside the airport.
24. Know how to get to the airport. Make sure that you know in advance how you’ll be getting there, what route your taking and how long it’s going to take you.
25. Know how to get around the airport. Print out an airport map and take it with you. Do this for your layover airport and arrival airport as well. This makes it a lot easier to get around. Tech-savvy people will find that there are smartphone apps of maps available from many airports (such as Dallas-Fort Worth).
26. Give yourself plenty of time. Reduce your stress by getting to the airport early. Bring a book or other entertainment. Plan to eat a meal when you arrive there. Relax after you’ve checked in. You might even sleep at the airport.
27. Let someone know if you’re running late. An airport security agent can usually help you get through lines more quickly if you are running late. Just let them know in as polite a manner as possible.
28. Dress up. Travel and Leisure reports that you might receive better treatment at airports if you’re dressed a bit smarter. However, you do want to make sure that your clothes are comfortable.
29. Know about Rule 240. If your flight is delayed or you get bumped from a flight, ask the ticketing agent if they can “rule 240” you. This term refers generally to getting you on to the next available flight either with the airline or with another airline. Using the lingo helps.
30. Check with TSA for special help. The “special needs” section of the TSA website provides great tips, tricks and information for people with special needs. This includes people with disabilities, people with illnesses, people traveling with children, people traveling with pets, people traveling with special items, people with special religious or cultural needs and people in the military.
Travel Hacks for Buses, Trains and Road Trips
Planes aren’t the only way to get to your destination. Here are ten helpful hacks for buses, trains and trips in the car.
31. Check online reviews. This can help you a lot with getting information about the safety of bus and train stations as well as the reliability of different routes. ReviewStream, Yelp, RateItAll, Viewpoints and your social media sites are top places to find reviews.
32. Anticipate delays. They’re unfortunately common with bus and train travel and can certainly be a problem on road trips.
33. Bring motion sickness medication. Make sure that you have the medication that you need to take on windy roads if this is something that makes you feel ill.
34. Pack healthy snacks. You’ll feel your best if you eat healthy snacks and drink water. Pack them at home to save money.
35. Get comfy. It’s common to sleep in buses, trains and cars. Make this easy on yourself by getting comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing. Use ear plugs and eye masks. Bring a blanket.
36. Bring entertainment. A book or an ereader, a handheld gaming device or a mobile phone packed with games and a travel journal are great items to take with you on buses, trains and cars.
37. Address baggage issues in advance. Double-check with the bus and train lines to find out what baggage restrictions there are. Pack your car in advance to make sure that you have room for everything.
38. Avoid peak travel times. This is especially true for road trips. You want to time the trip to avoid arriving in major cities during rush hour.
39. Be smart about bathroom stops. If you’re driving then you’ll want to use the bathroom at gas stations when you stop for gas. These are usually cleaner and safer than rest stops. Use the bathroom at train and bus stations.
40. Know about tipping. It’s common practice to tip certain train crew members. In states where full service gas stations are mandatory (such as Oregon) you only need to tip if an extra service is performed (such as window washing) or if there are special circumstances (such as stormy weather).
Transportation Travel Hacks
Dealing with transportation once you’re in your destination is easier with these ten travel hacks:
41. Use your GPS. It’s one of the best ways of getting around in unfamiliar destinations.
42. But bring a map. You want to have a back up plan in case your GPS isn’t working. You shouldn’t rely on the technology alone.
43. Choose a hotel close to local public transportation. This allows you to utilize public transportation during some or all of your stay. This is very convenient in many major cities.
44. Download the local public transportation map. Again, you can print this out or get a version for your phone. It makes getting around a lot simpler.
45. Park in a cheaper lot. If your hotel parking isn’t included in the price then it might be more expensive than need be. Drive around the area to see if there’s a secure parking garage with a cheaper cost.
46. Get the right car rental insurance. If you have your own car insurance or you book with a credit card then you may already have liability coverage and you don’t need to get extra.
47. Use a gas rewards credit card. Let the driving that you’re doing add up for you.
48. Ask about the gas mileage of your rental car options. This is especially true if the rental car company bumps you up to an upgrade. The better cars sometimes have worse gas mileage and end up costing you more. Request a car with better gas mileage.
49. Read about taxis before you go. If you’re traveling in a foreign destination, make sure that you research taxi information. For example, in Buenos Aires it is recommended that you call for radio-taxis because they are safer than the taxis you can hail on the street.
50. Use the shuttles. Shuttles between airports and hotels are designed to be affordable and convenient. Contact the hotel in advance to find out about this option.
Hotel Travel Hacks
Reduce your costs and enjoy your accommodations using the following ten travel hacks:
51. Use hotel alternatives. Hostels, couch surfing, working on farms, volunteering for boarding and home swaps are all affordable alternatives to staying in hotels.
52. Choose a hotel that offers a real breakfast. This provides you with a better meal than a continental breakfast, saving you money and getting your day off to the right start.
53. Share a hotel room. If you travel in a group then you can save a lot of money by sharing hotel rooms.
54. Read reviews carefully. Hotel reviews can provide great insight into the pros and cons of staying in a specific hotel. Don’t just look at the star ratings. Read through the reviews to see why people did and didn’t like the hotel. People have vary different standards for accommodations so reading those details is important.
55. Ask about early check-in and late check-out. Some hotels offer this at no charge if you ask about it in advance. Others offer it for a minor fee.
56. Make requests in advance. If you want a room on a kids-free floor, away from the ice machine or with the best view then you should request this directly with the hotel before you go. The request will be noted in your account and you can remind the hotel staff of this when you arrive.
57. Try to get a free room upgrade. Helpful tips include ask directly for the upgrade, schmooze the hotel staff, plan your trip for a weeknight during the off season, stay for only one night and arrive within the hour after check-in time.
58. Ask about special discounts. Remember to ask about discounts for loyalty programs, kids, seniors, members of the military, corporate travelers, AAA members and any other specialties that may apply to you.
59. Leave the hotel room’s mini bar alone. Those $6 MnMs and bottles of water aren’t worth it. Get your snacks from the local convenience store and bring them back to the room.
60. Confirm price before checkout. Double-check that any add-ons charged to the room are correct.
Travel Activities Hacks
These ten travel hacks will help you out at your destination:
61. Go to the local tourism office upon arrival. This is the best place to get free and cheap maps, information on the best current local activities and insider tips on what to do while you’re in the area.
62. Stay healthy. Exercise, eat properly and get enough sleep when traveling.
63. Search out free activities. Do your research to find the best free local attractions, the free days at museums, the free festivals and the free markets. Fill your calendar with these events to keep travel costs down
64. Explore the area around your hotel on foot. This allows you to see and experience more in a small amount of time.
65. Schedule downtime. You won’t have a lot of fun on your trip if you’re running from one place to the next to the next in an effort to see everything. Schedule plain old downtime for relaxation on your trip.
66. Connect with local people. Check out a Meetup group, visit a friend that you only know from the Internet or attend a singles mixer. This allows you to meet people during your trip.
67. Get coupons for major attractions. Check the Internet for coupon codes. Call and ask directly if major attractions are offering a deal.
68. Do things that truly interest you. If you never visit art museums at home and they don’t really interest you then don’t feel obligated to check one out just because you’re on vacation.
69. Plan outdoor activities early in the trip. This allows you the time to reschedule them if inclement weather causes you to have to cancel.
Money Travel Hacks
Make sure to deal with your travel finances appropriately using these ten travel hacks:
71. Set a budget and stick to it. This is the number one rule you need to save money on your vacation.
72. Exchange foreign money at the bank in your destination. This will typically offer better exchange rates than going to a money exchange spot.
73. Buy a cheap money belt. Practical Hacks gives a great explanation of how to turn an ordinary sports knee pad into a useful money belt.
74. Take advantage of credit card rewards. Put all trip expenses on a credit card that gives you cash back. Pay the card off in full immediately upon return. You’ll have a complete record of what you spent in one place (on your credit card statement). Plus you’ll get money back for what you spent.
75. Let the credit card company know that you’ll be traveling. Many credit cards freeze accounts when too many charges show up in a destination away from home. It’s smart fraud protection but it’s inconvenient when you’re traveling. Let the credit card company know about the trip in advance to avoid this problem.
76. Be aware of fees. ATM fees, foreign transaction credit card fees and roaming charges for mobile phones are some of the travel fees to be aware of. Pay with local cash, limit ATM transactions and use a service like Skype to reduce these fees.
77. Bargain when appropriate. Rick Steves has a great guide to travel bargaining.
78. Spend smart when it comes to food during your trip. Don’t waste your travel budget on food. Buy inexpensive fresh produce at the grocery store. Eat out at lunchtime instead of dinner time. Choose appetizers instead of entrees. Avoid pricey tourist restaurants.
79. Track your spending. You should track your spending during the trip to make sure that you really understand how much your spending. There are some great apps out there for tracking spending without receipts.
80. Tip appropriately. Many Americans waste money over-tipping. Learn about tipping in Europe and other destinations before you go.
Safe Travel Hacks
These ten travel hacks will help keep your belongings safe and secure:
81. Be smart with your documents. Make a photocopy of your passport, ID, credit and ATM cards and any other important documents. Pack the originals in your carryon luggage. Pack the copies in the bottom of your checked baggage. Scan a copy and send it all to your email so that it’s also accessible online.
82. Know your emergency numbers. Make yourself an emergency address book. Include the fire, police and ambulance numbers if you’re going to a foreign destination. Also include the contact information for the consulate or embassy. Add any other emergency numbers, such as the local hospital. Store these numbers in your mobile phone and send a copy to your email as well.
83. Keep your valuables in separate places. Travellers Point recommends putting your cash, cards, passport, traveler’s checks, jewelry, etc. in different pockets and bags to reduce the chance of losing everything at once.
84. Use the security locks on hotel room doors. Always make sure that the door closes behind you. Lock the security lock when you’re inside. Don’t leave duplicate keys in the room.
85. Check recommended vaccines and medications. When traveling to a foreign country, you want to make sure that you have the updated medications and vaccines that are recommended for the trip. MDTravelhealth.com is a good resource.
86. Check travel safety warnings. Use the official government site to check the latest travel safety warnings before your trip.
87. Stay aware of your surroundings. Being vigilant about what’s going on around you will help you to avoid safety issues while on vacation. Watch your bags, watch your on-person valuables, watch the people near you.
88. Avoid intoxication. You can’t make smart choices when you’re drunk. This is especially important if you’re in an unfamiliar place and even more important if you’re traveling alone.
89. Learn about local scams. For example, one common pickpocketing scam in South America is for someone to “accidentally” spill something on you and then offer to help clean it up. As they do, they steal your wallet.
90. Trust your gut instinct. The best tip to follow is to trust your gut. If you feel unsafe in a situation, get to safety. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
After Travel Hacks
There is still more to do when you get home. Finish up with these ten post-travel hacks:
91. Have someone pick you up from the airport. You will be tired from your trip so it helps to have a familiar face and help with your bags.
92. Organize your receipts immediately. This will help you to see quickly if there are any incorrect charges.
93. Pay off your credit card immediately. Don’t add to your travel expenses by getting charged interest on your trip.
94. Put your passport back where it belongs. You don’t want it to be lost the next time that you need it.
95. Eat light and healthy for a day or two. This helps your body get over the stress of traveling. It keeps your immune system strong.
96. Seek out medical attention if you aren’t feeling well. Some travel experiences can cause medical issues a few days or weeks later. For example, if you went scuba diving during your trip then you may feel fine until you get on a plane to come home and then travel-related problems can set in.
97. Relax when you get home. Schedule your trip so that you have an evening or a full day of down time before you have to get back to your usual busy schedule.
98. Upload, share and organize your pictures quickly. If you wait too long then you’ll forget what the pictures are of or just put off getting them organized all together. Have a photo organization and scrapbooking day scheduled for a week or two after your trip.
99. Organize any other documents. If you made purchases during the trip, organize the receipts. If you paid an airport re-entry fee that’s good for future trips then store that documentation. If you need to get any rebates or cash in card rewards then do that.
100. Start saving up for your next trip! It’s never too early to begin budgeting and saving for your next vacation.
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