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Are you ready to jet set in style, but not sure where to start? These 64 hard won travel tips below will help you plan and prepare so that your vacation goes as smoothly as possible.
Whether you are adventuring to Italy, Japan, or Costa Rica, travel can be a full time job. Between all of the glamorous Instagram pics, you rarely see highlights of brutal jet lag, the pain of losing your luggage, or the 300 many small hassles and headaches of things that can go wrong when you find yourself out of your element in a foreign country.
From surviving airport security to navigating local culture, these travel tips will help you make the most of your travel experience.
Credit Card Travel Tips – 6 Months Out
- Sign up for a great travel points card in advance and spend the minimum to receive the bonus point sign-up reward. I am currently using Citi PremierMiles® Card for free flights and hotel bookings. Use credit card points to book free flights and hotels. These cards can also save you international transaction fees. Double win!
Booking Travel Tips – 3 Months Out
- Book your flight at this far in advance to ensure you get the best deals and seats. Remember to double-check prices on different computers and incognito browsers. Websites have been known to track spending behavior and travel history to charge certain customer profiles more. You can use sites like Kayak.com to compare prices and get the best flight deal, especially if your travel schedule is flexible.
- Book in off-season whenever possible. My favorite travel months are January- May.
- Check the weather in the location you are going to make sure you don’t accidentally stumble upon a flood season or opposite winter. For example, Australia’s winter months are America’s summer months.
- Take advantage of one-way booking. It is expensive to fly internationally, so you might as well catch as many destinations as you can. Fly into Paris, and out of Prague. This will give you a wonderful excuse to road trip across a new country and see everything along the way. Or, to catch your return flight, book a low cost, direct flight from one destination to another.
- There are rumors that booking on Tuesday will result in the best flight deals. Whether or not this is a data science or a superstition, you absolutely will get the best prices for flights departing in the middle of the week. My preference is to fly out on a Tuesday and return on a Saturday.
- When booking a hotel or Airbnb, ask your host for amenities or a special room that might make your stay comfier. I always request extra pillows and coffee packets.
- Request a room with a view, or close to the elevator, pool, or gym.
- When staying somewhere fancy, request late check out so you can sleep in and soak up all of the fun 5-star amenities.
Packing Travel Tips
- Take pictures of your identification and backup on to a digital drive, like iCloud or GSuite.
- Check-in in advance if you will need an International Driver’s License, in case you want to rent a scooter, car, or moped to see the sights.
- Keep a packing list. Every time you forget something, add it to the list for next time.
- Invest in an ultra-light suitcase. Doing so now will save you decades of baggage fees later.
- If you’re buying a new suitcase, consider an unusual color or bright accessory so no one will accidentally grab your look-alike black Samsonite at luggage claim.
- Use bags to compartmentalize clothing, including one for clothes that have been work once on the road.
- Bring multiple debit and credit cards with you, in case one gets lost, stolen, or eaten by an ATM. Don’t leave the country without a credit card that doesn’t charge international fees.
- Always leave your suitcase 1/3 empty so you can buy things or need to pack in a rush.
- Bring a towel. Turkish towels are my favorite as they can double as scarves, skirts, and tops.
- Empty ziplock bags will come in handy when you want to store a snack for later or pack a wet bathing suit.
- Keyboard protectors, durable laptop and phone cases, blue tooth headphones, and portable battery charges will spare you most technology disaster stress.
- You can never pack enough sunglasses and headphones when you need a nap or a break from the outside world. I always bring a few pairs of each in case they get lost.
- Take a bag filled with medications you might need, or anything you have ever needed. Dealing with local pharmacies and doctors can be confusing and not always accessible or fun if you are sick. This especially goes for Imodium (food poisoning) and Dramamine (motion sickness).
- Books are heavy to carry. Pre-download movies, shows, audiobooks, and songs on your phone, tablet, or computer when you find yourself without WiFi or reception.
- Weigh and measure your suitcase before going to the airport, to make sure it meets your airline’s carry-on standards.
- Don’t bring valuable or expensive things you can’t afford to lose with you.
- The only luggage you reed is your passport and cell phone. Everything else can be bought or replaced.
Travel Tips for the Airport and Plane Ride
- Check in to your flight online the day before you leave.
- The best travel tip is to ALWAYS carry on and never check your bag. If that isn’t an option, pack and prepare as if you are carrying on. Lighter luggage is a lifesaver if you need to fly through security and bypass bag check.
- Wear slip-on shoes, and skip the belt.
- Pajamas get through security best (no metal or pockets) and they’re super comfy for a plane ride!
- Ask for that upgrade.
- Carry a giant, EMPTY water bottle to the airport, and fill it up after security.
- Don’t exchange currency at the airport. This is where it is most expensive.
- Hydrate as much as possible in the air and try to avoid alcohol.
- Spend a few minutes stretching when the seatbelt sign goes off.
- Wear socks on the plane to improve your circulation at high altitudes.
- Chew on gum to pop your ears.
- A hot meal from made at home or the purchased at the airport will be better than anything they serve on the plane. Pack your own lunch or grab something at the airport to avoid plane pretzel temptation. My favorite plane snack that makes the security cut is a Cup of Noodles.
- Instead of shelling out for expensive airplane Wi-Fi, use the time to disconnect and focus on deep work, such as a design project or journal writing.
- Pre-load an audiobook or episode of your favorite show on your phone or tablet. You never know when in-flight entertainment or Wi-Fi is going to go down.
- A spare change of clothes in your carryon can save you from the total misery from a flight turbulence coffee spill.
- Headphones are the ultimate protection zone from crying babies and snoring neighbors.
- Bring your own earbuds and blanket in case your plane charges extra for such amenities.
- Before leaving a train, plane, bus, or restaurant, triple check your seat to make sure you remembered everything. That also means under your seat, and in the pocket and under of the seat in front of you.
Travel Tips for your Trip
- Hotel ironing boards double as great laptop standing desks.
- Room service is over-priced and the food is usually dry and flavorless. Use Yelp or food delivery apps like *UberEats or **GrubHub if you get hungry and want in-room dining. You will eat better food, get to try the local fare, and save money.
- To avoid room service temptation, request a fridge and microwave in your room. When you get to a new place, hit the market and stock your mini-fridge with some healthy snacks, or even a bottle of wine.
- Hand washing clothes in your hotel bathtub can make your luggage last twice as long, and you won’t have to waste time on your trip at a Laundromat.
- Before checking out, double-check the shower, sheets, electrical sockets, fridge, drawers, closets, and under the bed.
- Write down your accommodation address to take on the plane with you, in case you have difficulty with Wi-Fi or cell service upon landing.
- Get a hotel by the airport the night before your flight home. I learned this trick from my mom. It makes the day of your flight much less stressful and has saved me from the nightmare of missing an international flight.
- Carry a fake wallet to ward pickpockets.
- Don’t waste your time or money belts, which are uncomfortable and known about by thieves. Backpacks are difficult to reach but easy to get to by someone from behind you. Instead, stash your valuables deep within a bag that has zippers. The ideal travel accessory is a cross-body messenger bag you can keep your eyes on.
- Wear your purse strap across your body, instead of on one shoulder, so it can’t be easily snatched.
- When estimating currency conversion, mess with your own head by rounding up instead of down. For example, if a dollar is worth 6.7 Kunas (Croatian currency), simplify the math to a dollar equaling 6 Kunas. When you get home, this will ensure your credit card charges are a pleasant (instead of shocking) surprise.
- Put your cell phone on airplane mode to avoid incurring long-distance fees with your cell carrier.
- Pre-download a country or city map into your Google Maps app to navigate without service.
- Live on cafe Wi-Fi.
- When making a purchase or withdrawing cash at ATMs and credit card machines, never opt-in to the ‘Currency Conversion’ option. Elect to be charged in the local currency to avoid conversion fees.
- Go into every trip understanding that something valuable will need to be sacrificed to the Travel Gods. It may be a camera, a sweater, a piece of jewelry. Make peace with this in advance.
- If you foresee even the slightest chance of a hot tub or cliff-diving opportunity, wear a bathing suit under your clothes. On the same note, bring an extra pair of undergarments and that Turkish towel in case you need to change out of a wet suit.
- Grocery shopping in a new country can teach you as much about its culture as any walking tour and will give you conveniences on hand like instant coffee and fresh local snacks.
- The worst times to sight see are between 11 am and 3 pm, when temperatures are sweltering and the attractions are mobbed. Wake up early to see a new city, or sleep in and go exploring in the late afternoon or evening after cruise ships have departed and tourists have subsided.
- When you need help with a spontaneous rental booking, recommendations, a map, or a place to stash luggage for a day, go to the lobby of a nice hotel. The staff is prepared to help, and will probably treat you a guest.
- Bonus Tip: Learning basic phrases in the country’s language like ‘Thank you” will delight locals. The effort is small and shows you are trying, which will open up the people and culture around you in new and unexpected ways.
Travel Bonus Perks, Rewards, and Discounts
DISCLAIMER: I get $0.00 financial benefit if you click on the majority of links in this article, but I also am fully disclosing that using affiliate links helps me provide you cool discounts. Everything I suggest on my website (affiliate or not) is a product or service I love and use myself. This is a hardcore rule that applies to 100% of anything I recommend. Please don’t buy anything unless you’ll genuinely benefit from it.
Check back to this section often, as I will be updating it as I come across great new deals, tools, and tips.
- GrubHub: **$12 off your first-time Grubhub app order of $15+
- Uber: *2$ off first 3 rides
- Airbnb: $55 off your first trip.
What are your favorite travel tips? Let me know in the comments.
I’m always looking for ways to make a new adventure more exciting or run more smoothly.