After 22 years in the travel industry, and the fact I have spent many years backpacking and traveling the planet, I have come up with 10 of the best travel hacks for 2019 to make your traveling experience a whole lot better!
During my travel experiences I have had food poisoning on a flight, took the wrong suitcase home from the airport (Doh!), lost my passport (on more than one occasion) and have been fleeced of a few quid and a few other incidents that I came across with my inexperience and naivety when I first ventured out in the big wide world.
I now consider myself streetwise in the world of traveling, and I certainly hope these travel hacks and tips will give you a great start in terms of safety, budget and generally making your worldwide adventures as smooth as possible.
1. Make sure you are getting the very best price for your flights
When choosing your flights always make sure you are getting the best value when it comes to booking the flight times, price and luggage. As an experienced travel agent, one of the best tools you can use is www.skyscanner.com. This great little flight finder will help you find the cheapest way to reach your destination and list them in flight price order.
You can choose direct flights only or if it is a slightly of the beaten track airport, Sky Scanner will find you the best value rate with the least flight and airline changes as possible.
Check the carry on weight of the airline as some airlines give you more weight than others, and some airlines charge more for check in bags, so do your homework on what best suits your needs. Always remember that budget airlines will charge you more than schedule airlines such as BA, Air France, Air Canada and like, that normally include luggage, food and drinks already included in your price.
Try to be flexible with your travel date as you wll tend to find that midweek flights are cheaper than traveling on a weekend.
2. Plan and book your flights early
Whether you are planning a long haul flight or a short trip the best way of getting the very best flight prices is to book early. Flight companies tend to release their flight from 8 to 11 months in advance. By booking early you will be able to grab the cheaper fares. Gone are the days in my opinion where you will get the ‘last-minute bargain’, and booking and planning in advance is certainly the way to ensure you are getting the best deal for your flights.
Sign yourself up to the airlines mailing lists on their websites, as you will find they will email your release dates for the following seasons, and any seat sales that they have on offer. Be prepared to book if you find a decent price though, so many people make the mistake of calling back even a day later, and find the flights have shot up in price due to the cheaper flight fares selling well, and increasing in price.
3. Grab something to eat at the airport before you board
As I earlier mentioned, I once found myself with food poisoning on a flight from Heathrow to Bangkok. Turns out that 3 other people in my section of the plane contracted the same with us all having the chicken. It was a horrendous experience especially on a 12-hour flight, to say the least.
I am not saying all airlines will poison you with their food but it did make me very wary of warmed up food on an airline. This was a major airline too, not some little Joe Bloggs Air airline! My advice, more so on budget airline flights as the food on board can be extremely expensive is to grab a decent meal at the airport. If you are traveling on a long haul flight, try to choose a light option, and be mindful of the meat you choose. Trust me their is nothing worse than ruining your super exciting experience than being sick as a dog on your flight or when you arrive. Failing that, you can buy food to take on board when you have cleared customs, this includes soft drinks.
4. Look after your important documents
Obviously, your passport, money and travel documents are the most important items you have with you whilst traveling. I have lost my passport and believe me it is a headache to replace it when abroad.
Firstly make sure you take a photo of your passport pages on your smartphone or even better email yourself a scan or photo of your passport. That way if you did have it stolen or you have gone and lost it, you have a copy and some form of proof that the details on the passport are you! I tend to do this with my travel tickets and any visas I have during my travels.
You can buy a good document organizer on Amazon to keep all your documents safe. I have always separated my debit or credit cards and cash away from my documents and if you do lose any of these important items. Having money with you will make life a lot easier when seeking help in replacing them.
5. Pack wisely
This will obviously depend on how long you are looking to travel for, and if you are either going on a backpacking exploring adventure or a two-week vacation. The basic rule though is to travel as light as you can and pack as much as you can. The airlines of today are all about how much money they can charge you for, for taking sometimes unneeded items.
Rolling your clothes is a great way of not only of giving you a hell of a lot more space in your case or backpack, but also believe it or not keeps your clothes as uncreased as trying to ‘lay’ pack them. Rolling sock and underwear inside your shirts and dresses will again maximize space for you.
Try to make sure you have exactly the right amount of clothes you are definitely going to wear, and items you are taking. Don’t forget when you travel you tend to shop and bring home gifts and the odd pressie for the family!
6. Keep your money safe
In this day and age most cities, beach resorts and even far-flung small towns will have ATMs. Taking your credit or debit cards with you is without fail the safest way to travel with your money as they do have some form of protection with them in case you do lose them.
You will, however, need to take some form of cash for the currency of the country you are traveling to, just in case you are out and about exploring where there are no ATMs.
Again make sure you keep your money in a safe wallet where you can check it all times. One fab little tip I used to do when traveling solo, is to keep a cheap wallet in my pocket with a couple of dollars in, in the event I was mugged or in a dangerous situation. Giving a would-be mugger something rather than nothing puts you in a less compromising position. Just for the record I never did get mugged but I know people traveling who was, mainly because they ventured into the wrong part of town. So be aware of your surroundings is my advice.
One thing you must do before you are off on your worldwide adventure or week soaking up the sun is make sure you let your bank know that you are traveling abroad, this way they won’t fraud protect you abroad and block your card stopping you from getting your hard-earned travel funds.
7. Take a pen with you!
Make sure you keep a pen (that works!) with you. Such a simple little thing is so handy when traveling you never know when you may need it. From filling out visas to writing down the name of a great restaurant or hotel always handy to have available.
8. Use the local lingo!
Now, I’m not expecting you to go to Uni for a year and become fluent in Nepali here, I simply mean try to learn a little of the local phrases, certainly the likes of ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and basically sayings that will get you buy. This shows respect from locals and could work in your favor when help or advice is needed.
Buy a little phrase book or download a free app that will give you phrases of the language that you are traveling to. If you based in a certain country for a considerable amount of time you will be surprised how much you pick up of the local dialect. I was in Thailand for 4 months and was chuffed with how much Thai I picked up in that time.
9. Eat the local cuisine
Great tip this. When I was traveling my way around Asia, I tried to eat the local cuisine all the time. OK, there was the odd time I craved egg on toast and did manage to find the odd cafe that would give me this but I mainly ate the local street food or decent restaurant serving local food.
Whether you are traveling the States, Germany, Timbuktu or outer Mongolia make sure you enjoy the amazing food on offer. This will save you a fortune. I used to eat in Vietnam back in the 90s for about $6 dollars a day of which I got a good feast for that! It probably has increased a little now but it will be a damn sight cheaper and healthier than living on the likes of Mcdonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken! Try it, you’ll love it!
Just for the record, I did find out that a spicy breakfast is a great cure for a hangover!
10. Get some kip on the flight
It is never easy sleeping on a long haul flight. However, if you can get a good few hours sleep you will reach your destination fresh, clear-minded and ready for the adventure ahead.
Make sure you are well prepared, there are a few items you can take to make your sleeping experience much easier. Taking with you the following items will see you well on the way to getting your sky-high beauty sleep
- Pack some ear plugs
- Take your earbuds, listening to music and even meditation audiobooks will help you sleep
- Try not to eat a large meal
- Ask the cabin crew for a blanket and pillow as soon as you board
- Buy yourself a good neck support pillow
- Book extra leg rooms seats for extra comfort
- Try and avoid too much alcohol
Getting some well
Traveling is like anything in life. You gain experience and savvy the more you do it. The years I spent traveling this amazing planet we live on, was some of the best years of my life. The confidence I gained in life was second to none and it is true what they say, travel is the most mind-broadening experience you will ever have.
Please feel free to let us know if there are any more awesome travel hacks or tips that you can share below.