Traveling is fun. That’s just a fact. Another well-known fact is that travel is not always easy, smooth or convenient. Of course, chalking up all the mishaps as part of the fun is the best attitude to have, however avoiding them in the first place is probably better. To ensure that your travel is as pain-free as possible, we’ve assembled the best travel hacks that ever existed. Whether you’re looking for packing hacks, cheap flight hacks, airplane hacks, or just general travel life hacks, we have you covered.
When it comes to traveling, getting there is half the battle. It’s also usually one of the most expensive parts too. Use these cheap flight hacks to get the most affordable version of that plane ticket you’re vying after!
1. Set up Price Alerts
Many people continuously search the same flight repeatedly in hopes of making a purchase when the price drops. This is time consuming and frustrating. Setting a price alert is a cheap flight hack that does the dirty work for you. Set Price Alerts on your favorite flight apps like AirFareWatchDog, Skyscanner, Hopper, and countless others. Enter the price you’re willing to pay and you’ll get an alert when the flight you’ve flagged reaches the magic number. Simple as that.
2. Book flight mid-week
Being flexible in your travel plans will definitely save you money when it comes to booking flights. Flying on the weekends, and even the days leading up to and following a weekend (like, Friday and Monday) are typically the most expensive days to fly. If you can, try to book your ticket to fly mid-week. Less people are traveling on the weekdays (like Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and airlines really want to fill their seats. Therefore, airlines sometimes drop their prices to make tickets look more enticing. Something as simple as wiggle room in your schedule creates the opportunity for this cheap flight hack.
3. For the perfect seat use SeatGuru
Created in 2001 by a frequent traveler, the goal of SeatGuru is to help you select the best seat possible with dozens of the most popular airlines. This travel hack site is contributed to by the traveling community who fly, rate, and report the specs on their airline’s seats. The site then produces color-coded seat maps, complete with comments (both positive and negative), so the next flier can select the best seat possible. If you’re going to pay extra for the privilege of seat selection, SeatGuru will ensure you at least get your money’s worth!
4. Enable private browsing for flight booking
No, it’s not your imagination. The more you search the same flight, the more the price increases. Here’s your travel hack to avoid this situation in the first place. While you’re searching a flight, make sure you are browsing in “incognito” mode. In incognito mode, these travel sites can’t tell that it’s the same person who’s repeatedly searching the same flight route. This protects you from sneaky price increases that force you into buying a more expensive ticket because the website knows how badly you want it.
5. Check the one-ways
This may go against your instinct that it’s cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket, however this is not always the case. Putting the extra effort in to check the one-way prices into and out of your destination can sometimes save you money. You’ll get to see all the available flight times and mixing and matching two separate flights might shave money off both ends of the travel.
6. Bundle up services
Paying more upfront can actually save you more in the long run. This may seem counterintuitive, but the hype about bundling is real. If you know you’re going to need a car in your destination, check the prices for the flight + rental car options. Unless you’re staying with family or friends, some form of accommodation will also be necessary. Bundling your flight and hotel costs can save you a significant chunk of change. Websites like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline are at the top of their game when it comes to this service. The added bonus of bundling is you can plan your whole trip with one website!
7. Book one person at a time
Strangely, there is evidence to suggest that when you book a flight for two people it’s actually more than double the cost of a single person. If you’re traveling with another person, book your tickets one at a time to make sure you’re getting the true rate for the flight. This is especially relevant for traveling families who may be booking 3,4,5, or more tickets for their family getaway. This is one airplane life hack that may be more time consuming but could be worth the money saved.
8. Be flexible on location
If your goal is just to get away without much care on where you actually go, cheap flights will almost always present themselves. Skyscanner is a great resource for spontaneous folks with a flair for adventure. Open the app or site and the home page will show you options for “this weekend”, “next weekend”, and the current month from your current location. You can also just enter your departure city and then type “everywhere” in the arrival box to see your cheapest destination options! You’d be surprised at the excellent deals available to very desirable locations.
9. Get off at your layover
Annoyingly, sometimes the direct flight to your destination is more expensive than a flight to another location with a layover in your desired destination. Confused? Here’s an example from Skiplagged.com, the search engine pioneering this sneaky but cheap flight hack. Let’s say you’re traveling from Boston to San Diego and the flight is USD 300. There’s also another flight from Boston to Seattle with a layover in San Diego that’s USD 200*. Skiplagged will show you both flights under their “hidden-city flight” section, and you can choose the cheaper flight, get off at your desired destination (San Diego) and simply “miss” your connecting flight to Seattle. It’s all legal and it can definitely save you money. Just remember, this only works if you don’t check any bags.
10. Change your IP address
Did you know that based on your online location, flight engines could charge you a few hundred dollars less or more for the same flight ticket? The next time you book a ticket, try changing your IP address location by using a free VPN download and see if you can get it for cheaper. For example, if you’re located in the U.S. and flying to somewhere in Australia, change your IP address to India to book the ticket. It is likely to show you a cheaper price. Just remember that you’ll have to purchase the ticket in the local currency of your new “location”, so use a credit card without a foreign transaction fee.
Packing for a trip is sometimes stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these 5 travel packing hacks to stay relaxed before your trip. These packing hacks will also make your life easier once you get to your destination. Check them out:
1. Roll and compress your clothes
Instead of folding, try rolling your clothes before you pack them. There are two benefits to this packing hack. One, it’ll reduce the number of wrinkles. Two, it can help you save space in your luggage. Especially if you call in space-compressible plastic bags. Rolling your clothes and removing the excess air by squeezing them into plastic bags is a travel packing hack that’ll save you tons of room in your suitcase. Brands like Conair, Ziplock, and HomeTop have reusable, vacuum-free versions available on Amazon.
2. Opt for a carry-on
Standing around with dozens of people waiting to collect their luggage at baggage claim makes your trip longer and definitely hinders the efficiency of your travel. There’s also the possibility of it getting lost, which could really throw a wrench in your plans. Instead, invest in a soft, moldable carry-on that can be packed full and still get pushed and squished into the overhead bins. You are less likely to get your bag taken from you and checked at the gate if your bag is flexible. No checked baggage required.
3. Pack an in-flight pouch
Make your life easy by carrying a zippered pouch with all the things you want with you during your flight. This prevents that flustering situation of digging through your carry-on in the plane’s aisle as you try to locate all your in-flight essentials. Don’t hold up the line! Keep everything you might need — phone, tablet, wallet, headphones, medicine, gum, chargers, etc. — together in one pouch. Then you can just reach for one thing instead of 25.
4. Pack a mini first aid kit
No one expects food poisoning to strike or a cold to rear its ugly head in the middle of a vacation. The truth is, though, that this stuff can happen. Nothing’s worse than being unprepared in a foreign land and in need of medical supplies. When you’re sick or hurt overseas, the last thing you want to do is find a pharmacy, attempt to communicate your symptoms, and hope that the medicine you’re taking with the non-English instructions is correct one. Pack your own small supply of band-aids, Neosporin, pain relievers, cold medicine, anti-itch medication, pre-prescribed antibiotics, and something to relieve stomach irritation.
5. Eliminate luggage odor
Whether you’re a budget backpacker on a 6-month trip or a business professional in town for a conference, no one likes to wear musty-smelling clothes. Unfortunately, this can happen if dirty laundry or shoes are packed in the same suitcase as everything else. Try this backpack hack and toss a dryer sheet in the pocket of your bag to help combat less-than-lovely odors. Also, carry a lightweight tote or canvas bag with you so you can stow dirty clothes separately.
Anything to do within the airport is one of the major causes of stress during any trip. While spending time in airport is usually inevitable at some point during a journey, they can be a breeze if you’re prepared and know the ropes. Follow these airport and airplane travel hacks to make your trip as smooth as possible.
1. Download Flightboard
Find out the gate of your flight’s departure before you even set foot in the airport. Download Flightboard and get the Arrival and Departure boards for any airport in the world! You can even see real-time flight status information and feel confident that it’s the very latest — Flightboard updates every single minute. Now you can check your connecting flight’s gate from anywhere and breeze past all the others who are still searching for that precious board in an unfamiliar airport.
2. Carry an empty bottle
So simple. So necessary. Especially if you’re not into buying USD 8 bottles of water during every airport layover. Many airports now provide water fountains or water bottle refill stations where you can fill your empty bottle between flights. Not only is this more economical for you, it’s also more environmentally friendly for Mother Earth. Two thumbs up for this travel hack.
3. Weigh your luggage for free
Having overweight luggage is no joke. Some airlines will dock you if you’re just 1 kilogram over their limit – and it’s not cheap. A lot of airlines charge a huge fee for every kilo or pound over the limit to try to deter people from showing up with an overstuffed suitcase. Spare yourself the drama at the check-in counter and head to an unattended counter and weigh your bag for free. If you see you’re over the limit, make the necessary adjustments (e.g. transferring some items to your carry-on, layering up with some heavy clothing, or handing over some of the heavy offenders to a friend in the airport to mail to you later) before you get in line to check your bag.
4. Tag a 'fragile' sticker on your luggage
Nobody likes waiting to collect their luggage at their final destination. Fighting the crowd to snatch your bag from the conveyer belt in time is a drag after a long flight. Not to mention, if your bag is one of the last ones off you’re usually standing their worrying that it’s been lost. Even if you’re not actually carrying anything fragile, this sneaky travel hack will save you time at baggage claim. Tagging your bag as “fragile” pretty much guarantees your bag is handled with care and luggage marked with this sticker typically gets pulled off the flight first. Just ask for the sticker at the check-in counter.
5. Download FLIO app
This is the Mother of all airport life hacks and will make your airport time easier. While Flightboard is perfect if you just want your gate information, FLIO goes above and beyond to bring you real-time flight tracking, lounge booking, and parking space reservations. It also offers discounts on restaurants, cafés, and shops in hundreds of airports. Other features loved by frequent flyers are the airport maps, directions for the cheapest and fastest way into the city, and the flight overview information screen. Registered users will also get up-to-the-minute flight updates on gate changes, delays, and boarding times. Best part? It’s totally free.
6. Get the airport’s Wi-Fi password — BEFORE you even get there
Some airports have an open Wi-Fi network that allow free internet access just for providing your phone number or email. Other airports are not so relaxed and require a password or login information. But how do you find that out? Tracking down the Wi-Fi password in a foreign airport sounds anything but relaxing, so this awesome site has done it for you. Brought to you by Google, this site has the skinny on 333 airport Wi-Fi networks including the name, password, and time restrictions. Now you can be connected as soon as you walk in the airport and avoid the fuss of tracking down this simple, but necessary information.
7. Designate an airplane outfit
Comfort is key when traveling and wearing your nicest clothes or cutest outfit isn’t usually the most logical choice. Stick with loose clothing or stretchy materials that make it easy and comfortable to curl up and catch some Z’s in airports and airplanes. Remember, even if you’re flying in the summer, it’s not going to be 80 degrees inside the airports and airplanes. The A/C will be blasting and you will be chilly. Make sure you bring a hoodie, a shawl, and maybe a pair of sweatpants or leggings in your carry on. Don’t forget to wear socks and sneakers. Nothing worse than cold feet for hours on end!
8. Travel with a plug converter
Some airports are catching on to how crucial it is to charge your electronics on a layover and have installed handy charging stations complete with USB ports. Other airports leave you on your own. If staying connected is your priority, invest in a solid, multi-plug adaptor with USB ports and packs different plug shapes compatible in multiple countries and continents. Bonus: if you buy one with more than one USB port, you can share it with other travelers when all the outlets are taken and become their savior.
9. Decorate your baggage
Many suitcases look alike, and most passengers are tired and anxious to get out of the airport and on with their life after long-haul flights. Grabbing another passenger’s bag by mistake in a cloud of jet-lag can happen, and there’s an easy way to avoid this. Personalizing your bag with color bag tags and luggage bands will set your bag apart for the rest. It will serve as a warning to other passengers (“NO, this is NOT your bag”) and it will also help you identify it from afar.
10. Check in online
Don’t ignore the email you get 24 hours before your flight! It serves as a reminder of your trip and it also signals that you’re now able to check in online. This little travel hack can save you time in the airport later — especially if you don’t have any bags to check. Check in online, download your boarding pass, and store it in an app like Wallet or Passbook so you can pull it up quickly. If you do this before you get to the airport (and you’re toting only a carry on) then you can totally skip the check-in line and go straight to security.
Reaching the destination is half the battle won. As for the second half, not everything is perfect. Travel stressors can pop up anywhere, but they don’t have to. These 10 travel hacks will make life easier and more streamline by providing little tips, hints, and crucial snippets of information to make your travels easy-breezy.
1. Join FourSquare
This app is a complete travel hack because it has several benefits. One, you can join FourSquare and immediately find a great place to eat within minutes. This app uses your location to find nearby eateries and presents them to you according to distance and rating. You can see pictures and read reviews of other users and decide on where to eat based on insider information. Second, you can use this app to get the Wi-Fi password of many restaurants by scanning through the comments. You’ll probably find the network and password listed there. This can be helpful if you’re impatiently waiting for the slow staff to provide the details, or if you’re just standing in range of the network and need to connect.
2. Get yourself a LifeStraw
This amazing company was born from the idea that safe water should never be an issue for anyone on our planet. They partnered with Vestergaard and developed a straw-like tube with a filter system inside that can purify the water while you’re sipping on! The technology has further developed and now uses the same innovative system and idea but on a larger scale. This is a perfect tool for travelers to have, especially if your adventure includes some camping, hiking, or exploration on off the beaten path locations. With the LifeStraw, your water source can be from anywhere. An investment in one of these straws or water bottle with the water-filtration straw placed inside — can literally be a total lifesaver. And talk about convenience — you can fill your water bottle or sip from any water source you come across.
3. Download offline maps
Staying connected in a foreign land isn’t always easy. International internet rates are usually crazy high and Wi-Fi is not always readily available when you need it. While everyone can probably benefit from a little downtime without social media, not having internet when you’re trying to access GPS when you’re completely lost is a pain. Be prepared for this scenario by using Google Maps 8.0 offline maps feature. When you do have internet, search the route you want, look at the top right screen for the profile icon (an outline of a person), and follow the steps to download and save your map for later. Then you can pull it up in a pinch and save the day! Maps.me is a similar app that can come in very handy.
4. Download Viber, WhatsApp or Skype
Communication is crucial these days and if you don’t have the right tools for international chit-chat, you’ll be totally disconnected when you travel abroad. Skype has been around the ages, but it’s a free way to make phone calls to other Skype members when outside your home country. Phone calls are a bit old fashioned these days and many people would rather send a text. In this case, WhatsApp or Viber are your new best friends. With these apps you can text, call, and video call to other members for free no matter where you are in the world. All you need to register is your phone number. These apps score major points with frequent travelers who like to stay connected.
5. Party like a local
Formerly known as Party with a Local, the app now named PartyWith is a favorite among those travelers who like to — you guessed it — party! This nightlife community is designed to connect travelers, new ex-pats, or people who just want to meet up with other like-minded folks. However, this is not a dating app. It’s just for people who want to have a good time. With over 150,000 members in 150-plus countries, it’s easy to find out where the party is no matter where you find yourself. This is also a great way to discover where the locals are hanging which offers a more authentic experience. This is fast becoming one of the best travel hacks for solo travelers!
6. Book affordable accommodation
If budget-style travel is your game then hostels should be your go-to accommodation. Hostels sometimes have a reputation of being dirty, loud, and party-oriented, but if you use hostelworld.com or hostel.com, you can read all about the facility's amenities (including real reviews) before you book. Depending on where you're traveling, you can score some amazing beds for as less as USD 5 a night! A lot of hostels welcome walk-in and last-minute bookings, but if you're traveling during high season booking ahead of time online is a good idea. If hostels aren't your scene, don't worry. You can score an ideally located, 4-star hotel with all the amenities you want with sites like priceline.com and hotwire.com. These two sites let you "bid" for your accommodation. Naming your own price and getting the digs you want — priceless!
7. Get on Transferwise.com
The original idea of Transferwise was to be able to send money abroad without losing an exorbitant amount on the transfer. Usually when you transfer money to a different country you lose in several ways including the bank’s international fees and exchanges rates. Transferwise guarantees some of the best rates because they make two local transfers. This saves you big — sometimes it costs up to 8 times less than what your bank would charge you for one international transfer. Now, they’ve even introduced a borderless account which allows you to behave as if you have a bank in 30 countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia, and the Eurozone. That means ZERO fees when receiving funds from anyone of these countries along with the best possible exchange rates.
8. Learn some local lingo
No one expects you to learn the language of every country you visit, but knowing a few key phrases will certainly help you out and make you more likable. Don’t forget your manners when you’re traveling! Learning “please” and “thank you” will get you far with the locals. Chances are you’ll make a mistake, bump into someone, or need to offer some form of apology while you’re traveling. Learning “excuse me” and “sorry” will help you to maintain a courteous attitude. Souvenir shopping is inevitable. Learn how to ask “how much.” Don’t worry if you can’t understand the answer — the vendor can use fingers or write the price down. “Where is the toilet” can be a crucial one. Commit it to memory! Last but not least, “yes” and “no” can be helpful in a variety of different situations.
9. Use the ATM to get local currency
This is probably the best way to get cash in a foreign country without losing big on exchange rates. Banks typically have the fairest rates when compared to exchange shops, which add in their own commission fees. Banking with an institution that has international branches or partners with local banks in different countries will save you big time. These types of banks will typically only carry a 1% or 3% fee for withdrawing cash abroad. This amounts to much less than you’d spend exchanging money in the country. CapitalOne, Charles Schwab Bank, and Alley Bank are three financial institutions that don’t carry any foreign transaction fees.
10. Get Google Goggles
What’s the point of sightseeing if you don’t even know what you’re looking at? Enter: Google Goggles, the picture recognition app that supplies information based on the pictures you’re taking out in the real world. See a cool looking monument? Take a picture and let Google Goggles tell you the significance, history, and cultural relevance. This app makes for more fun and efficient touring since it relies on visual clues for its searches as opposed to you typing in random keywords hoping to get a hit. It’s like having a travel guide built right into your phone!
Regardless of where you are in the trip planning process, these travel hacks have got you covered. Now you are fully equipped to plan, pack, and travel in the utmost style and comfort with the help of all these small but oh-so-critical apps, hacks, and tips. Follow this advice and you’ll be a travel pro in no time at all!