The Best Travel Hacks
Do you love the idea of travelling, but get discouraged by all the planning involved? Do you hate packing or always end up forgetting something? Maybe it’s the opposite, and you always pack too much. I was like that when I started travelling, but over the years I picked up some cool travel packing hacks. These helped me streamline my travel experience to the point where preparing for a trip is now almost automatic. Let me show you my 35 travel tips and tricks that’ll make your travelling life easier. Ready?
1. Roll Your Clothes!
Travel pros know this: roll, don’t fold. Your clothes will take up less room in your bag. Get rolling as shown in the photo! This also goes a long way to removing wrinkles from your shirts too!
2. Bring a Power Strip
You’ll thank me for this one when you end up in one of those hotel rooms where there’s only one socket and it’s in the most inconvenient of places – as in up high the bathroom walls, and no, I’m not making this up! Bonus points for you if you get an extension cord that also functions as a power strip.
3. Ditch the Suitcase and Take a Backpack
Suitcases are kind of inconvenient: wheels that break or fall off, handles that get yanked by baggage handlers at the airport … not to mention the hassle of dragging a suitcase through the cobbled streets of Europe. There have been great advances in travel backpacks over the last few years, where you can maximise the amount you take away, without needing to check anything in. In short, smart travellers carry a backpack!
4. Call your Bank Before You Leave
Few things are more frustrating than arriving to your destination and finding out that you can’t withdraw cash because your bank hasn’t authorized foreign transactions, or having your card blocked after the first transaction. Think ahead and let your bank know where you’ll be going.
5. Pack Less than You Need
Less is more, or better. As a general rule of thumb, lay out everything you want to pack, then get rid of half, and that’ll be a good estimate of what you really need. For everything else, there’s Mastercard – as long as you’ve called your bank in advance.
6. Remember to Pack a Pen
You land at your destination, get in the passport control queue, and then realise you need to fill in an entry form and you haven’t got a pen, so you need to find one and go back to the end of the queue. That won’t happen to you, because you’ve got a pen with you, haven’t you?
7. Set Up a Price Alert for Flights
Finding a cheap flight on specific dates can be time-consuming and frustrating (ever seen a deal disappear just before you book it?). Set up a flight alert using the simple steps listed here.
Bonus tip: Always use private browsing when searching for a flight online. The travel companies know if you have visited the flight before and therefore are interested in buying it. Their algorithm will then increase the prices to simulate demand and make you buy the ticket more quickly (to beat a further price increase).
8. Pre-Order Your Meal
Pre-ordering your meal means you get it will be more fresh and you’ll be served first. That way you won’t get your beauty snooze interrupted, as many airlines have this annoying habit of serving meals just as you’re drifting off to sleep.
9. Save a Copy of Your Passport Digitally (and a Photocopy)
Remember Murphy’s law? If you’re a traveller, you should. Passports get lost, stolen, or damaged every day, and if that happens, you’ll be glad you have a copy stored somewhere safe.
10. Mark Your Baggage As Fragile
Ever noticed how rough baggage handlers are when tossing bags around? Sometimes you’d think it’s in the job description, so get that sticker on your bag whether it’s fragile or not. More tips on how to ensure your baggage gets the “Fragile” treatment it deserves can be found at Condé Nast Traveler.
11. Put Spare Shoes in Shower Cap
12. Bring an EMPTY Water Bottle Through Security
13. Follow Business Travellers Through Security
14. Use the Airplane Bathroom 30 minutes before you Land
15. Adjust to Local Time ASAP
16. Invest In Quality Travel Equipment
17. Eat Locally to Save Money
18. Take a Tour from a Local
19. Take Many Small Trips Instead of One Big Holiday
20. Put Your Wallet (or Valuables) In Your Front Pocket
Don’t be a newbie traveller and keep your valuables off your back pockets! You’ll definitely notice if someone tries to reach someone near the crotch area, and will have time to react.
21. Trust Your Instincts
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, get out of there. Fran did a fantastic article about Trusting your Instincts that is really worth reading.
22. Use The Local Language As Much As Possible
Pick up a few words / sentences of the local language and use them. You may notice locals are more receptive and helpful, and you may even avoid getting ripped off.
23. Only Unpack What You Need
Keep the most useful items within easy reach in your backpack to save time and hassle. This includes toiletries, a change of clothes, and electronics.
24. Only Make a Rough Itinerary
Don’t plan every day of your trip to the last detail. What happens if you don’t like a place and are already booked in for another 5 days? It’s best to make a list of must-sees and leave the rest to chance.
25. Use ATMs to Withdraw Money
Airport exchange booths usually have horrendous rates, so only exchange a small amount there and use ATM withdrawals for the rest of the trip. Every little bit counts!
26. Take a LOT of Photos!
That’s another reason why we travel, right? To post pics on Instagram! Take lots of photos and back them up frequently in case you lose your card or it gets corrupted.
27. Make Free Calls When You’re Overseas
WiFi calling apps make international calls so cheap they’re almost free. All you’ll need to do is find a strong WiFi network and get the password (see tip 31).
28. Do As The Locals Do
When in Rome … you know the rest. That applies to everything from food to dress code and including transportation, safety, shopping, etc.
29. Improvise a Travel Adapter
If you got so busy following my list of travel hacks that you forgot to pack an adapter, unplug the hotel TV and use the cable to charge your laptop or camera.
30. Don’t Buy a Lot of Souvenirs
Sorry to break it to you, but most people will never use those souvenirs and trinkets you’ve carried all the way back home with you. Save your money – or use it to buy the travel adapter you forgot.
31. Find Free WiFi Passwords
Free WiFi is everywhere, the passwords … not so much. Stay always connected by looking up your location on Foursquare, then read the comments and chances are someone will have mentioned the WiFi password.
32. Make Your Own Smart TV
Take an extra free plastic bag from security and turn it into a DIY smart TV. If you’re travelling with someone, take a headphone splitter. This tiny dongle allows you to connect 2 headphones to a single phone or tablet and share the viewing experience with someone! My favourite travel hack.
33. Take Hotel Soap With You Just In case
Hotel soaps, shampoos and conditioners are always worth stealing. If you don’t use them on this trip, you can take them on your next trip. All the containers are perfect for travel at under 100ml. That way you can travel with carryon only and don’t have to check a bag full of liquids.
34. Unpack as Soon as You Get Home
When you’ve been on the road for a while, the scent of clean laundry becomes one of the small pleasures in life. So as soon as you’re back home, do a load – you’ll feel better.
35. Stay Safe
Sure, you’re all grown up and don’t need to tell mom and dad where you are, but sharing your itinerary with friends and family means it’ll be easy to reach you in an emergency. Let them know roughly when you are going, where you are going and when you’ll be back. That way if anything major happens, someone can look into it.
These are little things I’ve learnt after years on the road, so I hope you find it useful. Do you have any of your travel hacks that we missed in the list? Add your travel hacks to the comments below along with your website/Instagram and we’ll add them to the list and attribute them to you! If you enjoyed this post please click one of the share buttons below to share it with your friends, or pin this to Pinterest.
New Zealand travel photographer based in London, UK. He was taking photos from a very young age in the backcountry of New Zealand before moving abroad. Since doing so he has taken workshops and tried to help get as many people into this art as possible. Featured in NZ Herald, Stuff.co.nz and many photography publications it’s safe to say he loves his photography!