There are a lot of travel hacks available today to help you travel efficiently and comfortably while saving your hard earned money for exploring or splashing out on occasion. This is great! Who doesn’t want tips on how to avoid paying more than they need to for flights or accommodation? Handy lists like these are a really quick way to help you prepare for your travels…heck, it may also give you something new to think about on how you could save your money while on the road.
We realize that there is a lot of travel advice out there so, trying to not to state the obvious, our advice are based on the things we have tried and found really beneficial whilst on our travels. That’s what traveling is all about right? Continuously learning, trying and testing new things only to use those that are most useful. So here it is, our list of awesome travel hacks that we can’t travel without.
1. When booking flights avoid dynamic pricing – A lot of travel websites will track your visit and raise the price of the flights you are interested in as they are in ‘higher demand.’ To avoid this, simply use an incognito window or clear your search history and cookies to get the actual prices. You won’t believe how much of a difference this makes!
2. Only book your first few nights accommodation in a new place – if you’re backpacking around somewhere like SEAsia it is really handy to have a few nights booked to prevent you from wandering around at night looking for a place to sleep. However, it also allows you to be flexible as you will bump into travelers or local families and find your own accommodation while you’re out there.(RELATED: How to Travel the World and Get Free Accommodation)
3. Scan your essential travel documents and email them to yourself – having a paperless copy of your passport, I.D, insurance policy, emergency contacts etc gives you piece of mind and protects you against loss or theft. One of the more effortless travel hacks and definitely worth it!
4. Call your credit / debit card company before you leave – this is important for a number of reasons. First you should let them know that you’ll be traveling so they don’t suspect suspicious activity and freeze your account (awkward). Secondly, take this opportunity to ask questions such as if you can use your card abroad, how much they charge and if you’re entitled to any perks. It’s really worth checking this out as some companies offer travel cards or other benefits such as money off car rental insurance.
5. Take advantage of reliable hotel and flight websites and their perks – a lot of the best OTA (Online Travel Agency) websites have country-specific sections such as Traveloka Philippines where you can compare and book flights and hotels with no hidden costs in the area. They also have an app with live updates on your flights, any changes and delays, which is really handy-plus it means paperless travel!
6. Sign up for credit cards that give you free miles – It’s worth researching the best airline credit cards and using it while you travel to rack up miles and points towards free travel for next time!
7. Check country laws before you leave – I’m not saying you have to scroll through the whole government website but you should be aware of the important restrictions and expectations of each country. For example in Myanmar, there are restricted zones that tourists can not travel through and a modest dress code that is expected when visiting temples. Knowing this allows you to avoid running into military checkpoints and dictates extra clothes you should pack.
8. Learn how to pack – this might seem silly but something as simple as rolling your clothes and packing necessities at the top of your bag can really save you space and prevent you from having to unpack everything and potentially losing things. If you need help with how to pack as light as possible, check out our Backpacker’s Guide: What to Pack for Thailand.
For more advice on travel preparation, read our guide: How to Prepare for Traveling.
Travel Hacks While on the Road
9. Mark your baggage as fragile if you have a tight airport transfer – airport transfers reduce your flight costs but can sometimes leave you with an hour to check into and get on your next flight. Marking your bags as fragile mean that they will be the first ones unloaded, giving you that extra time to run for the boarding gate!
10. Use local ATMs to get your currency – never get your currency in the airports as their conversion rates are abysmal and will rip you off. Local ATMs are your best option and will save you carrying a lot of cash while traveling. Just remember to check if your card charges for withdrawals abroad, if it does always draw out the maximum amount to make it worth it.
11. Shop at the local convenience store as soon as you arrive – If you can, always shop for the basics straight away. If you’re arriving late it is always handy to have water and food for the morning-trust me.
12. Eating street food and at local restaurants will save you money – street food is ridiculously cheap in Asia which is great for saving cash. Just make sure to avoid restaurants that have a tourist menu as they will charge you double compared to a local restaurant. Be adventurous and try new things! After all, that is what traveling is all about.
13. Use the local language as much as possible – learning basic phrases really reflects well on you and can result in you making friends and even scoring some free accommodation or local guide! Apps like Memrise are really good to get you started but if you are staying in one place for a while, Hello Pal is great for practicing conversations and listening skills.
14. If you want to stay connected, invest in a Mobal sim card – if you plan to travel around multiple countries such as backpacking around SEAsia, this one sim card can be used in each place so there’s no need to worry about having to buy a new local sim each time.
15. Travel Apps are your new best friend – Download a bunch of useful apps and only keep the ones you use most often. While you’re traveling we recommend currency converters, map apps such as Here, and transport apps such as Rome2Rio. They will keep you super organised and avoid any unnecessary problems such as getting lost!
16. Only take the travel gadgets you cannot live without – Again this is a trial and error process and everyone will have different views of essential gadgets. Gadgets that we have found really helpful are water to go bottles, packing cubes and the scrubba wash bag. For you digital nomads out there we highly recommend travel adaptors for multiple devices and power banks to keep you connected!(RELATED: Travel Gadgets and Apps we can’t Live Without).
17. Use guidebooks sparingly – always a great place to start to decide where you want to go and what you want to see. However, these are often the spots that are swarming with tourists. Traveling is all about the unexpected, so let yourself be flexible and explore the unknown regions of a new place.(RELATED: To Plan or Not to Plan when Traveling).
18. Plan to buy clothes when you get to your destination – if you’re traveling to countries like Thailand where buying clothes from the market is so cheap, this means you can pack less, carry less and a slightly cheaper flight cost, win!
So these are our travel hacks that we have put together from our travels so far, although I’m sure there will be more in the future as more handy apps and gadgets come about especially for us. Hopefully, they will help you plan your travels and navigate your way through the world efficiently!
Do you have any more useful travel hacks to share?