Even those who consider themselves to be expert planners can fall victim to the unavoidable inconveniences that can plague the traveling experience. While certain things like delays and wait times can’t be predicted, there are things you can do to instantly make your next trip less complicated than it has to be.
If you’re about to embark on your first adventure or even if you’re a seasoned traveler, there are a number of worthwhile hacks that can help eliminate the typical stressors that come with globe-trotting.
Here are 24 travel hacks to save you time, money and stress for the next time you decide to skip town.
1. Pre-authorize your debit/credit card before spending in a foreign destination.
There’s nothing worse than starting your vacation and having your card get declined due to suspicious activity. While it’s great that banks are trying to keep your money safe, this can really add an unnecessary inconvenience to the start of your trip. You can easily avoid this by calling your credit or debit card company to ensure that you are authorized to spend money in the foreign destination you’re traveling to before you get there.
2. Scan important pieces of identification in the case of loss or theft.
No one plans on losing an important piece of identification like a passport or ID, but planning ahead can save a lot of hassle. Before venturing out of town, scan important pieces of identification and email them to yourself so that you have an accessible extra copy just in case
3. Book your flight at the right time.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when booking your flight that could end up saving you a lot of money. The best time to book a U.S. flight is generally Tuesday around 3 p.m. eastern time because a majority of airlines release weekly airfare sales. According to to Cheapest Flights’ Phil Bloomfield, the best fares are advertised 50 days ahead of departure, but three days prior to flying is the most expensive.
4. Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
Always roll your clothes when packing your suitcase. Many flight attendants swear by this space-saving technique. Not only will packing this way increase your luggage space, you’ll also decrease the risk of creasing your clothes and you’ll create more places to store delicate items.
5. Mark your baggage as fragile.
This little trick can help make sure that your luggage is handled correctly whether the contents within are actually fragile or not. Fragile luggage is kept at the top, which means that it will also be one of the first bags to be released after you’ve landed.
6. Bring your own water bottle.
It’s important to stay hydrated, but it’s not always convenient when traveling. Instead of having to fork over potential spending money on an overpriced bottle of water, bring your own empty one to the airport and refill it after you pass security so you have water when you want it.
7. Bring your own pen.
Having a pen on hand can be useful for a variety of reasons, but one particular convenience is when it comes to filling out customs forms. People often forget to bring a pen with them, which can result in quite a commotion when the time comes as flight attendants rarely have enough to provide for everyone.
8. Download maps prior to traveling.
Map services like Google Maps offer you the ability to download areas so you don’t have to rely on using mobile data in a foreign place. The GPS feature will work without data, but it’s advisable that you download the map of where you’re traveling to just to be safe.
9. Use ATMs to get local currency.
While it’s important to check your bank fees for exchange first, often times they are far better than the absurd exchange rate fees that come with money converters at the airport. ATMs will always dispense local currency and can be a cheaper alternative to get cash.
10. Protect your cables.
Traveling can really bring a phone or laptop charger to a premature death with all of the frazzled wranglings. You can help maintain your cables by taking the springs from pens and wrapping it around the connection section to make sure that it doesn’t wear and tear.
11. Go incognito when booking flights and hotels.
Travel websites are notorious for tracking your website visits and upping the price based on your viewing history. To make sure you’re getting the best deal when booking a flight or stay, enable private browsing or clear your history, including cache and cookies.
12. Pack a dryer sheet in your luggage.
Depending on what kind of traveling you’re doing, you might not always be carrying around clean clothes. To make sure your luggage remains smelling fresh, throw a dryer sheet in your suitcase. This will not only help eliminate unfavorable odors, it will also help reduce static.
13. Use plastic wrap to help prevent bottle leaks.
Anyone who has ever had anything leak inside their luggage knows that it’s a mistake you only make once. To help prevent this inconvenience, place plastic wrap over the container before sealing it with the lid to help secure the contents of the bottle.
14. Take advantage of free Wi-Fi.
Finding free Wi-Fi isn’t always easy as many establishments use password protection to make sure customers are the only ones using it. However, you can save yourself some unnecessary purchases by checking out FourSquare, where many previous patrons will post passwords to the Wi-Fi in the comments.
15. Try to sleep off jet lag as quickly as possible.
It’s certainly not easy to go sightseeing if you can barely keep your eyes open. Jet lag may be inevitable, but the Sleep Foundation recommends planning your flight so you arrive in the early evening and staying up until 10 p.m. local time before getting a good night’s sleep.
16. Store jewelry in a pill container.
Anyone who has attempted to bring multiple pieces of jewelry in one bag knows that the aftermath is, more often than not, a tangled disaster. However, you can make sure your jewelry remains separate, safe, and easily accessible by placing them in a pill container.
17. Use a cloud-based storage to backup your vacation photos.
Many people will bring a surplus of memory cards to make sure that they are able to snap each moment, but those photos and videos can be gone in an instant if something happens to the device. If you have access to the Internet, regularly backup your photos to a cloud-based storage platform so you don’t risk losing your vacation media and have room for more!
18. Don’t order tap water on the plane.
If you think you’re beating the system by opting for tap water on the plane — think again. The Wall Street Journal did a study in 2002 which found that the water from 14 different flights had bacterial levels tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits. Yikes.
19. Use shower caps to pack your shoes.
Even if your shoes are clean prior to your trip, chances are, they won’t be on your way back home. To make sure your footwear doesn’t dirty the rest of your luggage contents, wrap them in a shower cap to keep them neatly separated.
20. Use TV ports in lieu of a forgotten wall charger.
Phone chargers are usually high on the priority list of things to remember, but sometimes those pesky wall plug-ins can go missing. Luckily, most phone chargers are equipped with a USB plug, which most hotel televisions will have on the back.
21. Join lines that have visible frequent flyers.
It can be tempting to join the shortest line at security, but that doesn’t always end up being the case. To find the fastest line, choose the queue with more businesspeople. These frequent flyers are more likely to travel with less and not have any problems due to their familiarity with the process.
22. Up your chances of getting a row to yourself when booking as a pair.
Naturally, you might be inclined to book two seats together. However, if you book the aisle and window seat, it’s less likely anyone will book the middle unless it’s a full flight. This can result in the luxury of a row for just you and your travel buddy, and if someone does end up booking, they’ll likely be willing to trade seats so you can sit together.
23. DIY flight TV.
Most airplanes have screens integrated on the back of the headrest for your viewing pleasure, but if you are caught without one, you can use a clear plastic bag to keep your phone propped up. Plus, you can download whatever you want beforehand so you don’t have to choose between the flight’s film catalog.
24. Only unpack the necessary luggage items once you arrive.
Repacking is never fun and there’s never a point to unpacking items that you never ended up using. This also makes you much more likely to forget them there. Just unpack what you need as you go to help ensure that everything comes back.