Are you ready for this? I love giving away my travel tips, but I was recently compelled to compile a list of my very top travel hacks–the lifesavers that work every time! Well, this is it. Get ready to travel like a pro!
10. Go Carry-on Only
I cannot stress this one enough. In fact, this is also on my Top 10 Packing Hacks list from earlier this week! It’s perhaps not for everyone, but everyone should give it a try. No one wants to be stuck footing an unexpectedly large checked luggage bill, or stuck waiting for your luggage (if it makes the trip at all) at the carousel when you’re ready to either start your vacation or just get home after a trip! For all my top packing tips to make that happen, check out my Packing page and my Top Packing Hacks!
9. Get a Credit Card with No International Fees
You can use a credit card almost anywhere in the world, so get one that works for you while you travel! Choose a card with no international fees and with a good fraud monitoring program. My husband and I both like the Capital One cards (he has QuickSilver, I have Venture), but check with your current card or with your bank to see what your options are. Bonus hacks: get one with a good rewards program, and ALWAYS pay off your card–NEVER carry a balance because that is the best way to throw away any money or rewards you may be saving or earning!
8. Utilize Your Phone’s Low Power Mode
If you’re like me, you use your phone as your camera, notes tracker, map, and much, much more on your travels. Everything you do with your phone, including just looking at the illuminated screen, uses battery power. If you’re tired of seeing your battery go into the red just when you’re getting ready to take a photo of your real Italian gelato in the early afternoon, you’re not alone. A very helpful solution is to put your phone in Low Battery Mode as soon as you take it off your charger in the morning. It won’t be running background apps or constantly checking your e-mail, but avoiding those things will make your phone last surprisingly longer than on a typical day! You can configure this in your Settings.
7. Let Everyone Have Some Space, or Go Solo
One of the best tips for travel with anyone, anywhere in the world, is to let everyone have their day. Maybe that means everyone picks one activity that everyone does together (without complaining), or maybe that means going solo for a day or just an afternoon. For the full scope, check out How to Plan Travel with a Group and my Solo Travel page!
6. Learn How to Read a Map
You might think that’s stupid because your phone can do that for you. But what if you lose your phone? What if it gets damaged? What if your phone dies? You need to know how to read a map to make it in the world. Don’t know how? Check out my guide: How to Read a Map
5. Buy Airline Tickets Directly from the Airline–NO THIRD PARTIES!
If you find a fabulous flight deal on a third party site, great! Then go find that same fare on the airline’s website. The third-party did not come up with that fare on their own, they only found it for you. If something goes wrong or your flight gets cancelled for any reason, you will have much better luck and far less stress dealing with the airline directly to get the situation resolved. If you buy from a third-party, you will get the run-around. The third party will say it’s the airline’s responsibility; the airline will say it’s the third party’s responsibility. Every. Single. Time. Buy from the airline.
4. Wear Compression Socks for Long Flights
If you’re going to be on a flight for 4 hours or more, seriously consider some compression socks to wear on the flight. They will prevent your legs, feet, and ankles from swelling, and personally, my legs just feel less tired when I’ve landed and deplaned. You’ll be so glad you wore them!
3. Use Trip Advisor
This is by far the best travel planning tool out there. It’s completely free and easy to use. You can choose the things you want to see, do, and eat, then put them in order as you like so you don’t miss a thing. Check out How to Trip Plan with Trip Advisor for all the details!
2. Do Your Own Research
You might think the customer service folks at the airline you’re flying have all the best information when your flight gets cancelled or delayed. But that is not so. Maybe their system is out of date, maybe they have several other things happening, but either way, sometimes the person on the phone or at the counter is not seeing the whole picture. Do not be rude or belittling to them, but sometimes it helps to suggest options yourself. If you need to reschedule or get rebooked on a different flight, search other options on your phone while you’re with an airline representative.
There has been more than one instance where Steve and I found much better options on partner airlines (especially within the Star Alliance) than what the representative on the phone was telling us. So use apps like Hipmunk and Skyscanner to see what your options really are, and then kindly ask the representative to check for that flight.
1. Call a 1-800 Number with Skype
This is the biggest lifesaver that I did not know anything about until Steve and I were stranded on Easter Island–the remotest island in the world! Hurricane Harvey closed down the Houston’s IAH airport indefinitely, and that happened to be the only airport that United’s airplanes flew into from South America that time of year. We could not change our flight online because everyone was trying to rebook online, and the website was showing no alternative flights available. We could not use our phones because we do not have international phone plans.
So I sent an iMessage to a flight attendant friend of mine via wi-fi to see if he had any ideas for things Steve and I could try. He said I could use Skype to call a 1-800 number for free over wi-fi! Maybe everyone knows that, but I sure didn’t! So I hopped on Skype and called the airline just like I would in the States, and we got it worked out in about half an hour or so. And we made it home!
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