All the travel hacks you’ll ever need for a stress-free holiday: save money, time, and space!
Who loves to travel?
I bet you do!
I know right now travel seems like a distant dream, but there will come a time soon enough when we’ll all be free to explore again.
It’s so exciting to get on a plane or take a drive to somewhere you’ve never been. Even a few days away can be restorative to your soul and leave you ready to tackle your life when you return.
But getting ready before going away can be a little anxiety-inducing. However, there’s no reason for that! In this all-encompassing guide to travel, I’ve covered 45 travel hacks to make sure your vacation will stay a vacation.
Take a few moments to read through these super helpful travel tips before you pack your bags: you’ll be glad that you did!
45 Top Travel Hacks To Save Money, Time, And Space
- Travel hacks to use before you go
- Travel hacks to use at the airport
- Travel hacks to use once you reach your destination
TRAVEL HACKS BEFORE YOU GO
Once you get the hang of it, these tips won’t really take too long. Just a little bit of preparation can make your travels much more enjoyable and stress-free!
Table of contents
1. Pick the best seat
SeatGuru has seat maps to help you pick the very best seat on every plane, complete with other travelers’ reviews. Just enter your airline, date of travel, and flight number to find out the most comfortable location on each plane!
2. Leave a gap in the middle
If you are flying as a couple or with a friend, try this one! If you book the aisle and window seats and the flight isn’t full, you will likely end up with an empty seat in the middle to make your flight more comfortable. You’ll be able to stretch out and enjoy your flight without having to squeeze by anyone whenever you need to visit the restroom. If someone books the seat between you, you can kindly ask to swap at no loss!
3. Make a copy
A lost ID or passport is at the top of everyone’s fear list. Simply take a clear, quality photo of important documents with your cell phone and email them to yourself. And print a copy too. Even if you lose the documents, you’ll be able to supply ID and passport numbers, check into your hotel, and continue with your vacation.
4. It’s fragile
No matter what’s in your bag, mark your baggage as fragile, even if it’s not. Airport baggage handlers are notorious for being rough with traveler’s goods. The chances of airport workers tossing your bag around in a free for are much slimmer if it’s marked fragile and your items will be protected from unexpected damage.
5. Solid everything
I had only discovered shampoo bars a few months ago, but I am converted! It takes a few goes to get used to it, but there is no going back once you do. I love Godiva from Lush. It has an incredible jasmine scent and leaves your hair soft and wonderfully clean. These long-lasting, light little shampoo bundles are concentrated and easy to transport (no liquid problems!). They are not cheap, but a single bar could take you around the world in 80 washes, which is the equivalent of 3 shampoo bottles of 250ml. And you can go solid with conditioner, sunscreen, and insect repellent too! Perfect for travel lovers!
Travel-size containers can be purchased from anywhere, and you can use them to pack your favorite products. This is much cheaper than buying travel-size products, and you can keep re-using your containers over and over again!
7. Be ready for an emergency
You’ll never know when you’re going to need a pain reliever or a bandaid. Make sure you always pack a mini first-aid kit (or if you are as cheap as me, just pack some essentials in your beauty bag!). Bandaids have multiple uses, as well; you might find yourself needing a few to cover the heels of your feet as you hike around your town. I never forget bandaids of different sizes and shapes, paracetamol, and ibuprofen.
8 Listen together
Make sure you pack your own headphones. Usually, you’ll get cheap ones on your flight, but you’ll be much better off with your own. And when you spend a long time traveling, you’ll enjoy watching a movie together or listen to the same music. Dan and I always bring a mini-jack headphone splitter cable to do that.
9. Use zipper file bags
A good zipper file bag will protect your electronics from spills, rain, and other hazards, and you’ll avoid having to deal with tangled cords. It’s one packing hack that can save you a lot of headaches, so be sure to pick some up before you pack.
10. Fold the Marie Condo way
Once upon a time, rolling was the new thing while traveling. Not anymore!
You need to fold your clothes, the Marie Kondo way. I swear you will save space, and your clothes are more likely to stay wrinkle-free. Less time ironing, and you still get to look fantastic? Sounds like a plan to me.
11. Stuff shoes
When shoes get bent or folded, they can lose their shape. Avoid this travel mishap by stuffing your shoes with paper before packing. They’ll withstand the rigors of suitcase life and look great when you unpack. And remember: always put your shoes in bags, to avoid dirty soles spreading germs on your clean clothes!
12. Pack a USB charger
Pack a compact multiple USB charger. It’s super-useful to keep all your devices together, and it will avoid having cables all over your room. It’ll be harder to forget things when they are all charging in the same spot.
13. Pack a foldable bag
Chances are, your suitcase is full, so be sure to pack a foldable bag into your luggage. You’re going to need it for that souvenir you just had to have, or that fantastic outfit you find while visiting local shops. Save yourself the hassle of purchasing another bag and just pack one before you go.
14. Make it smell like a fresh flower
Let’s face it: depending on how long your flight is, your suitcase doesn’t always smell like a rose when you first open it. Solve this unpleasant side effect of packing by placing a bar of your favorite soap or a dryer sheet inside your bag. Your clothes will smell fresh and clean when you arrive. And as a bonus, dryer sheets are serviceable as lint removers when rubbed on your clothes.
15. Buy a portable phone charger
The last thing you want is to be stuck in an unfamiliar city without a working phone. Purchase a charger and carry it around with you. Don’t be shy about asking your cab, uber, or other transportation if you can plug in for the ride. I use this.
16. Prepare your mobile
Check if you can use your data allowance in your destination. If you can, great! If you can’t do this:
- Turn off your data roaming BEFORE you land. I wish Dan remember that when we went to Indonesia last time…He kept it on for 5 minutes without realizing it while waiting for a connection flight. Once we reached our hotel, he got a message saying he spent over $50 in data. Ouch!
- Make sure your phone is unlocked. This will let you buy a local SIM card in your destination to use cheaper data to communicate with your friends and family.
17. Split your photos
If you use SD cards to store your travel photos, it’s better to buy multiple smaller cards than a big one. In the unfortunate event that you’ll lose one, or it becomes faulty for any reason, you’ll still be able to recover some of your photos from the other cards.
18. Find the cheapest flight
Finding a cheap flight can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on long flights. From using the right tools to finding the right time to book: check out all my tips to get the best possible deal.
19. Weigh it
Weigh your bag before you go to the airport to ensure you are within the limit. The last thing you need is to pay an extra charge for a bit of excess weight.
20. Write it down
I am sure you have your hotel’s reservation details on your phone (in an email or your booking app). But you never know if you’ll have access to your data when you arrive or if you’ll have problems with your phone. By having the address handy, you’ll be safer and able to get to your desired location, no matter what happens.
21. Let your bank know
The last thing you want is to be eating at a restaurant, and your card is declined. Yes, many banks will flag an account that’s spending in unusual areas. Do yourself a favor and let your bank know about your travel plans. With some banks, you need to login into your online banking and add information about your destination and travel dates. With others, you need to make a simple phone call. Either way, make sure you notify them to avoid being stuck in another country with no money!
For more packing tips: 9 Packing Tips: The Worst Mistakes You Need to Avoid
TRAVEL HACKS AT THE AIRPORT AND ON YOUR FLIGHT
Airports are sometimes painful. They’re crowded, noisy, and full of people trying to get to different places. Especially if you have a connection to a flight and find yourself having to travel from one end of the airport to the other, and once you are on the plane, your seat is too small, the food is never great, and you just might find yourself sitting next to someone you’d rather not. It’s ok! Follow these travel life hacks to make your airport experience and flight a breeze, and settle in to enjoy your trip.
22. Bring your own water bottle
Liquids are a no-go through security gates these days. But why paying over the top price for water bottles at the airport? Carry your own empty water bottle and refill it as needed at water fountains through the airport. You’ll save money and help the environment!
23. Bring a scarf
I never travel without a scarf! It doesn’t matter if I am going through the desert in Jordan or on top of a volcano in Indonesia. Scarves are the original do-it-all accessory. Honestly, a scarf can help you out in so many situations. Use it to cover your head from the sun, as a blanket on the plane, or to cover your shoulders when visiting churches in Italy.
24. Bring your own food on the plane (yes, you’ll thank me later)
This is one of my favorite travel hacks, by far. Food served on planes is normally highly processed and full of salt, which can reduce energy and make you feel bloated. I normally pack fresh fruit (like grapes, bananas, apples) and a couple of healthy meals full of veggies. I then eat my meals following the time-zone of my landing destination. This helps my metabolism getting into the right time-zone. Since I started doing this, I am less exhausted, and I find it easier to fight jet lag.
25. Moisturize inside and out
The recycled air on flights is notoriously dehydrating. Be sure to pack lotion to moisturize during your fight. It’ll help you to keep your complexion perky and healthy. And remember to put the water bottle that you packed to good use and drink up to moisturize your body from the inside. It doesn’t always have to be water, but try your best to avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol while traveling.
26. Keep a pen in your pocket
As far as life hacks for traveling, this is the most overlooked but simple tip. You might need to write your name down on a document or fill in your landing card while you are on the plane or as soon as you land, especially if you are flying internationally. Just keep a pen with you to avoid having to beg your neighbor for one.
27. Keep your muscles in shape
If you suffer from muscle cramps or back pain, sitting in the same position for hours can be a killer! Take a massage ball in your carry-on and use it to relieve those aches and pains. And if you don’t want to invest in a massage ball, just use a tennis ball. It’ll work perfectly fine to relax your muscles.
28. Do this before you land
Don’t get caught searching through a busy, crowded airport for the restrooms. Chances are, there’s going to be a line when you get there. Use the toilet on the plane before you land, and be ready to grab your bags as soon as you get out.
TRAVEL HACKS ONCE YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION
29. A bit of exercise goes a long way
Everyone hates jet lag, but a few people realize it can be shaken off quickly with a little exercise. Be sure to stretch, do a bit of yoga or go for a run to get your blood flowing and relieve your body from the traveling stress.
30. Shop like a local
I love to explore local supermarkets when I am traveling abroad. It lets me discover new foods and products I would never taste if I only ate in restaurants. I normally buy fresh fruit, snacks, and ingredients to make delicious homemade sandwiches. By doing this, I can also save lots of money!
31. Stay with the locals
Avoid the tourist traps, and get fantastic deals and perks using Airbnb. You can find lodging just about anywhere in the world, and you’ll get to meet local people and experience the authentic way of living in your destination. Plus, you’ll end up saving money too!
Read more: 12 Genius Airbnb Tips, Secrets, And Hacks
32. Talk like a local
If you don’t know the local lingo, download the Google Translate app on your phone. It’s super useful. You can translate by copying text in the app, by taking a picture, and you can even translate a two-way conversation on the go in 32 languages. It’s really impressive!
Fancy not having to pay for your stay on your getaway? Just become a housesitter and get free accommodation everywhere in the world.
Some amazing websites to explore to find housesitting deals:
Some of these house sitting websites will charge you an annual fee, but you’ll save so much money that if you are serious about trying it out, it’s a no brainer to pay the fee!
34. Always split up your money
Never carry all of your cash or cards with you all the time. If the worst happens and you lose your purse or wallet, you won’t be stranded without money. Either use the hotel safe or find a secure place to stash an emergency card and cash in your room.
35. Your shoes are your ATM
Another cool travel hack is to fold a $50 note and put it under your insole. If your purse is stolen, you’ll still have enough cash to get a taxi back to your hotel or accommodation and get some help. This is an excellent way to ensure your emergency cash stash is protected, no matter where you might be.
36. Only unpack what you really need
If you are moving around quite a lot during your trip and staying in each location for only a few days, don’t unpack everything. Just take out what you need. This will save you time when you need to check out at the last minute.
37. Batteries in the fridge
Not the freezer, but the fridge. This can help rechargeable batteries live a longer life, especially if you stay in a hot country. It’s one travel tip you can’t live without.
38. Turn every type of liquid into water
If you’re hiking or staying in an area where you question the water quality, be sure to pack a LifeStraw water bottle. Its incredible water filter removes bacteria and protozoa from lakes, streams, or contaminated water to ensure safe, clean drinking water everywhere you are. Brilliant!
39. Use Google Maps offline
This little travel life hack is ingenious. It’s great to save battery life and useful if you lose your data connection for any reason. You’ll never get lost, and you’ll be able to get everywhere interesting. Just open the Google Map app on your phone while you are connected online, find the place you are looking for, then click on the 3 little dots on your screen and select “Download offline map.” Click here for more details.
40. Charge your electronics through a TV
If it’s a smart TV, it has a USB port, and if it has a USB port, you can charge your electronics through it. A genius but often neglected way to keep your devices fully charged. Give the TV in your room a quick glance to see if this will work with it.
41. Eat locally
Sometimes, it can be tempting to end up in safe places like MacDonalds and Starbucks when you are abroad. But for me, travel is all about experiencing new things, so skip the obvious international restaurants and hit local eateries. You’ll discover some incredible new flavors that you could never experience in your own country.
42. Find free things to do
There are always dozens of free things to do in each location. Go in Google and type your location + free things to do. You’re likely to find an abundance of interesting activities that won’t cost you a dime. Common free events are open-air concerts, art fairs, and museums offering free admission.
43. Explore with the locals
If you’re new in town or have taken a solo trip, check out Tours By Locals. If you are looking for an authentic cultural experience, this website connects you with local people willing to share their knowledge and expertise about the area.
44. Learn to cook a traditional dish from each country
I love to cook, and one of the things I can’t wait to do during my travels is to learn new flavors and recipes. If you sample a dish you love, find out how to make it. It’s surprisingly easy, and you’ll be able to bring those memories back when you recreate the dish at home. You can find great cooking classes on websites like Airbnb or EatWith.
You can get a $33 travel credit for your first stay and $12 credit for your first experience booked with an Airbnb by following this link to book with Airbnb.
45. On your last day, give away your change
If you’ve got leftover currency, why not share it and give it away before you leave the country? There’s no point in bringing it back and keep it in a drawer. Stock up some good karma and make someone’s day. After all, what’s the good in travel if you can’t help the locals a bit? I sometimes leave my change to the cleaners in my hotel room or people in need.
Ready for your holiday?
There you have it!
My top 45 genius travel hacks that will save you time, money, and space on your next trip.
Did any of them surprise you? I hope that you’ve found at least a few that you can use to make your next vacation a little bit easier.
If you have more useful travel hacks, please let me know in the comments!