39 Travel Hacks From 8 Years Of Travel
I’ve been traveling the world continuously for the past 8+ years and been to almost 100 countries.
In that time, I’ve spent countless hours in airports, on planes, in bus stations, police stations and everything in between.
I’ve learned a lot of useful travel hacks along the way, and now I want to share some of my favourite tips with you!
39 Travel Hacks From 8 Years Of Travel
Airport Lounges work out cheaper if you travel long term
An airport lounge pass might work out cheaper if you travel long term.
For example, I go to the airport around 30-50 times a year. If I were to spend $15 on each airport visit, it would cost me roughly $750 a year for airport food and coffee (50x $15 = $750).
Instead, I pay for the Priority Pass Unlimited Package, which is currently priced at $450 a year. This gives me unlimited food, alcohol and coffee in most aiports around the world.
This mean it actually works out cheaper to have an airport lounge pass!
There are also lots of credit cards that have priority pass, or other lounge passes, included.
Make sure to do your research on the best credit card because depending on where you’re from, there’s probably a great travel card that includes free lounge access.
E-sims are a great option for quick trips
If you’ve not heard of e-sims yet, you need to listen up.
E-sims are a great way to have instant coverage in any country around the world. You can simply download a new sim to your phone!
I use Airalo and it’s incredibly useful. You can download the sim card to your phone and then you will have data coverage as soon as you arrive to a new country (use code JORDAN6686 for $3 free credit).
If you’re staying somewhere longer then the physical sim card is still a cheaper option, but being able to put the sim on your phone with a click of a button makes it’s so easy when you first land.
When packing, take out half of what you want to take
This us one you’ve probably heard before, but when packing take out half of what you think you’ll need. You’ll still have more than enough.
When people start backpacking, everyone on their first trip has these GIANT backpacks. You can always recognize is the first time backpacker because they have these huge backpacks that are bigger than they are.
Instead of breaking your back, take out about half of what you think you’ll need – it will still be more than enough. Most of the time you’ll end up only using half of your stuff anyway.
All you need is your wallet and your passport
When push comes to shove, all you really need is your passport and your wallet.
Or better yet, your passport and your bank card – that’s all you need.
Everything else you can replace or by along the way
Carry your own water bottle at airports
Take your own refillable water botttle, drink everything before security control, then refill it afterwards.
Just make sure to empty the bottle before security control. They won’t take it off you if it doesn’t have any water in it. Then, once you’re through security, you can just usually refill it from a free water station.
This stops you from paying the silly prices for water on the other side of security.
Always carry a universal adapter
Always carry a universal adapter, especially if you don’t know where you’re going next.
You won’t always know which plug you need when you’re traveling from country to country.
As long as you have a universal adapter, then you’ve got something good to use as a back up.
Tinder and other dating apps are a great way to get local advice!
If you want to find out the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants that local people actually go to rather than just tourists – then Tinder is a great way to meet some local people who will show you the real spots.
There are lots of people on Tinder, Bumble and other apps that will be more than willing just to meet up and show you what they like about their home country.
You don’t need to wait in the queue when boarding a plane
Just sit, wait and relax. Everyone has a seat.
Don’t waste your time waiting in line to board the plane. Instead, just sit there and stroll on at the end of the queue.
pay the extra 2-3 euros for a slightly smaller dorm
If you’re staying at a hostel or a dorm, then think about paying the extra €2-3 for a slightly smaller room, especially if it’s off season.
In most hostels, there are the really cheap 16 person dorms, but there’s also usually a four person dorm that might be empty.
Just by paying an extra couple of euros a night, you could end up getting the whole room to yourself.
All the other cheapskates will be crammed into the 16 person dorm while you get a private room for 2 euros!
Use left-luggage facilities
Did you know that you can use left luggage facilities at railway stations and bus stations if you’re only staying somewhere for one or two nights? This will save you from lugging it around the city.
Leave Luggage At Hotels / Hostels
You can also leave your luggage at hotels and hostels.
If you’re planning to travel for a couple of weeks through a country, and you brought a big bag with you but you don’t need it, you can you can leave it at your hotel on the first night and then pick it up in two weeks time.
As long as you have a booking on either side of your trip, most hotels will be more than willing to do this for you.
Just ask to store your big bag and explain that you’ll come back later to collect it.
There are even some people that do this at hotels they’re not staying at. They just go to the hotel reception and ask politely. Sometimes they’ll store it for you for free!
The plane aisle seat armrest can be lifted
Did you know that the aisle armrest on a plane can be lifted up? I had no idea.
There’s a little button underneath where you can press it and lift up the aisle armrest.
So if you need to get up and down quickly, or if you just want to remove it so you have more space, you can!
Try it out next time you’re on a plane.
Travel with hand luggage only in Europe
Try traveling with hand luggage only, especially in Europe.
You can fit quite a lot into a hand luggage these days and avoid having checked bagge entirely.
This is especially useful in Europe, since the checked baggage fees are so high on low cost airlines.
You also get to skip the baggage control when you land.
Take More Than One Hand Luggage
You can almost always get away with two pieces of hand luggage, even if you only pay for one. You will rarely ever get checked at the boarding gate.
The only time your hand lugggage will be checked is when you’re at the check-in desk, which you can also avoid if you use an e-boarding pass.
You can usually get on the plane if you have two, or even three, hand luggage bags. Just make sure that they don’t look too big to fit in the overhead hold.
Take a thin launry bag or a pillow case
Take a thin laundry bag with you or better yet – take a pillowcase!
You can use that pillowcase for your laundry and you could also use it as a makeshift pillow.
If you stuff some of your softer clothes in there, then you’ve got a pillow for when you’re traveling on long journeys.
Take Ear plugs
I don’t need to explain much about this, but obviously they’re very useful for long journeys and especially for sleeping in hostels.
Night trains are a false economy
There is a school of thought that says nighttime journeys are great because they’ll save you money on accommodation.
The problem is that you will arrive tired but will be unable to check in at most hotels/hostels until after lunchtime.
You might save some money, but you typically “lose” a lot of the next day since you’re not fresh and sharp.
Before deciding to travel a route overnight, check the scenery
If the geography looks interesting, do not take the night train – do it by day instead.
Try to look up beforehand to see how scenic the journey is going to be.
It could be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, that you’re skipping because you’re sleeping through it!
Avoid Europe in the Summer Holidays
Try to avoid Europe during the summer holidays.
I know not everyone will do this, but the reason is that it’s very expensive and very busy.
The schools are out, there’s a lot of people traveling so the airports are very busy and you’re probably paying about three or four times more than you would do out of season.
Always check the Airport taxi prices Before You Travel
When you arrive to a new country, the airport is probably the first and most likely place that you’re going to get scammed.
If you know the taxi prices beforehand, at least you can get to your hotel before you have any other decisions to make.
Check which ride sharing app is available before you travel
Make sure to download whichever ride sharing app is used in your destination, before you travel.
It’s not always Uber. There are lots of countries have their own taxi apps e.g. Grab, Gojek, Cabify.
I prefer using ride sharing apps when traveling from the airport. This way you know what price you’re getting before the journey and it avoids the hassle of explaining the address of your hotel.
Always have Backup USD when traveling in more difficult countries
Bury $100 somewhere in your bag, just in case. If you travel long enough, you will eventually need it.
I usually keep $100 USD tucked away somewhere at the bottom of my backpack. It’s a good safety net for when things inevitably go wrong.
It could be an unexpected visa on the border, a moment where you can’t get out cash and you need to exchange the dollars, or, let’s just say, a facilitation fee when you need to get out of trouble.
Have a copy of your passport on your phone
There might be times where you don’t have your passport on you, and you need to show someone a copy.
Usually having the photo of it will be more than enough for anyone that asks.
So keep a copy of your passport on your phone, save it your emails, or Google Drive, or anywhere that you can access it quickly and easily.
Compare Airbnb / Booking / Hotels for each destination
In some countries Airbnb will be a lot cheaper and in some countries Booking.com or Hotels.com will be cheaper. Just make sure to check both before you travel.
It usually depends on the local rules and regulations, and how much people are charging in different places.
Recently I’ve noticed hotel sites being a lot better value than Airbnb.
Download a currency conversion app to your phone
Download a currency app and check the currency conversion before you fly. There’s nothing worse than landing and having no idea how much things cost.
If you’ve already checked the currency and you have the currency app installed on your phone, then you won’t get caught out in a new place.
Credit cards are great for insurance
A lot of people worry about having a credit card because they don’t want to go into debt, but it’s a great way to cover yourself and your purchases.
If you pay for your big ticket items (i.e. flights, hotels, gadgets) with a credit card then you can do credit card chargebacks when things go wrong. This means that the credit card company will claim back the refund from the company and investigate on your behalf.
They usually usually also have other perks like points, lounge access and travel insurance.
Make sure to look into the best credit card for you, because it is really a great tool to have while traveling – even if you just keep it as a backup to your normal debit card.
Pack your backpack the same way every time
Try to pack your bags in the same way every time. Then when you need something, you’ll know where it is!
Even just having your documents or medicine in the same pocket will make your life easier.
It makes long term travel much less painless, especially if you’re always living from a backpack.
Carry a pen with you
At some point, you’ll need a pen.
You’ll usually need it when you’re filling in the immigration cards, customs forms etc.
There’s always a reason you’ll need a pen. So it just makes sense to keep one in your hand luggage.
Wear loose clothing in the airport
Try to wear loose clothing on travel days.
Not only is it way more comfortable to wear a nice cotton t-shirt and jogging bottoms on a plane, it’s also way quicker when going through security.
It means you won’t have to take off your belt, jacket, shoes etc. (anything with metal) and you can get through airport security in minutes.
Travel with a power bank
Always have a power bank with you, especially on longer journeys.
We all use our phones too much and it will eventually run out. If you have a power bank then at least you’ve got backup power for when you need it.
Try not to use it until the very last moment, when you might need it to find your hotel, to get through immigration or let someone know you’ve got there safely!
Book Fake Onward Flights
A lot of countries will require you to have a return flight, or an onward flight, to get the visa on arrival.
This can be a problem when you don’t know where or when you’re flying next.
There are some great services that enable you to book an onward flight, without actually paying for the flight. You can pay a small fee and they will reserve the flight for you for 24-48 hours, enabling you to get through immigration.
The site I currently use is Onwardticket.com.
Keep backup emergency coffee in your bag
This is mainly one for coffee drinkers, but you know what I mean.
There’s always a time when you won’t have coffee and you really want it.
So if you just have a few emergency sachets, that you can take from any hotel, you’ll thank yourself later.
Keep Back up bank cards
Now this is an obvious one, but it’s only obvious once it happens to you.
If you lose your bank card and it’s the only one that you have on you, you’re in a bit of trouble. It’s not the end of the world, but it would be way easier if you did also have a backup card that you keep in your big bag for emergencies.
If you do happen to lose a card and you don’t have a backup one, you can also usually add a digital card to your NFC chip on your phone, using services like Revolut, Starling, Monzo.
Then you can you your phone to pay for things until you get your replacement card
Use Skype For International Phone Calls
If you need to make phone calls while abroad but don’t have international minutes, use Skype!
Did you know that you can use Skype to call any landline around the world? I’ve been doing this for years.
It costs a few cents per minute to call anywhere!
I topped up roughly $15 a few years ago and I’ve still barely touched it. I use that credit whenever I need to call the bank or anything like that.
Take USD Cash For Visa on Arrival
ALWAYS have cash with you before arriving through a border that requires cash payments for a visa.
While they have ATMs available sometimes, it’s not always the case. It can be a bit of a nightmare if the ATM isn’t working and there’s no way to pay for the visa by card.
You’ll basically be relying on the people around you to lend you the money, otherwise you won’t be able to get into the country!
Resarch The Best Food Spots
Doing your research on where to eat is always worth it when in a new place.
When you arrive somewhere, it’s normally the touristy overpriced restaurants that you come across first.
Insteead of eating at these overpriced tourist hotspots, do your research on when to eat.
Find a good blog and pay for the taxi to a highly rated, cheaper and much better local restaurant!
Know How To Use a VPN
Knowing how to use a VPN will come in handy eventually.
You don’t need to pay for it every month. There are plenty of options that come with free trials, but eventually you’ll go through a country where certain sites are blocked and you will need it.
The best VPN I like to use is ExpressVPN – there’s even a free 30 day trial that you can cancel at any time.
Sun lotion is your friend!
Don’t skimp on the sun lotion.
Sure, it can be expensive when you’re in tropical countries. But for the sake of $10-20, you’ll have a much better time than if you were sunburnt.
Take a t-shirt when snorkeling
This is one for my fair skinned fellow countrymen, and any Scots or Irish out there!
The times I have got the most burnt in my life have been when I’ve been snorkeling without a T-shirt on.
The problem is that you don’t realsie how hot it is, because the water’s over your back and you’re watching fish for an hour. Then you come to the shore and then suddenly you have these massive blisters pop up later.
I just avoid that at all costs these days by wearing a T shirt while snorkeling. You won’t really feel it anyway and it means I can enjoy the snorkeling without turning out like a lobster!
Those Are My 39 Travel Hacks
I hope you enjoyed the 39 travel hacks I’ve learned from 8 years of travel.
When it comes to continuous travel, there are always new ways to make the experience more comfortable. Whether that’s a new app, a new gadget or just a little tip that changes the way you travel.
That’s why we plan to keep sharing travel hacks to make your travel experience that much better.
Do you have any other travel hacks that we might’ve missed?
Let us know in the comments below.