The Top 25 Travel Hacks Revealed
I think it's super fun traveling to new and intriguing lands. The act of actually getting traveling there can sometimes be...not so fun. (51+ hour bus rides!)
Between forgetting those essentials you didn’t pack, the awful rush to the airport, the numerous delays and cancellations, and the terrible in-flight movies, it can be a real hassle getting from Point A to Point B.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
While there’s not yet a better alternative to flying, there are many ways you can make the experience of traveling a lot more enjoyable and much less stressful.
These travel hacks can help you get where you need to go in comfort and style no matter what stage of traveling you’re at.
From the booking to the packing to the airport to the flight itself, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate list of travel hacks.
Hacks for Booking Flights
Booking a flight is the first step to actually traveling to where you want to go.
While this might seem like the most straightforward part of the whole production, meaning there are not many things you could do to hack the process, you’ve actually got a ton of options on how you can game the system to work for you.
1. Book at the Right Time
When booking a flight, when you do it is one of the most important factors in getting a reasonable price.
This includes the number of days out from your flight, the time you book it, and even what day of the week you decide to visit the website.
Many have likely heard that Tuesday is the best day to book flights, as it’s the cheapest day to do so. While this may have been true in the past, it’s not anymore.
According to research done by Expedia, the actual cheapest day to book is now Sunday, as too many business travelers use the weekdays for last-minute books these days.
As for the date to book, that would be between one and two months out from when you want to leave ideally. Though three months is also an option, anything further out from that has, at best, diminishing returns or could even cost you more.
Also, try to avoid flying in June, as it’s the most expensive month for travel. Instead, shoot for September, which is statistically the cheapest (as noted in the Expedia study from before).
2. Go Incognito
Everyone knows what Incognito Mode is for. That’s right, booking flights.
Going undercover when browsing airline websites keeps them from adjusting their prices based on your search history, which could have you paying through the nose for the cheap seats.
For added security, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when browsing websites.
These programs bounce your signal from different relay stations around the world, hiding your actual IP address from the sites you visit.
Also, using the VPN, visit a website from multiple locations, i.e., third world countries might get a cheaper airfare then 1st world countries.
Many free VPNs are available, some even coming standard with certain browsers, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that works for you.
3. Sign Up for Alerts
Travel alerts will tell you of rate changes, sales, and more ways to book cheaply as soon as they happen, making them indispensable tools in the fight for cheap flights.
The trick is coverage, meaning you should sign up for as many alerts as possible from a vast number of websites and apps, especially those that look at multiple airlines at once.
This lets the different sites compensate for each other’s weaknesses, ensuring you’ve got the most up-to-date news on fare changes the moment they happen.
You can even take things a step further and track alerts on specific routes of travel.
4. Compare the Fares
Regardless of anything else you do, the one universal constant for booking flights is to compare your fares as much as possible.
You can’t find deals if you don’t look for them first, obviously.
While price aggregate websites are helpful in this regard, it’s still a good idea to check individual airlines for yourself, too, just in case there’s some kind of lag in reporting. You can also set personal alerts this way.
5. Choose the Route
Something not many people consider when booking a flight is that the route you take can actually impact how much you pay.
For example, direct flights to your destination often cost more than ones with stopovers. If there’s no rush to get where you’re headed, then it seems obvious which option is best.
You could even use these short delays in the journey to your advantage. Different stops could take you to all sorts of exciting locations before you even get to your destination, essentially giving you several vacations worth of fun in a single trip.
Just remember to make it back to the airport before it’s time to take off.
6. Learn Cancellation Policies
Things happen. Whether it’s an emergency, an accident, or just a last minute change of mind, having the option to cancel your trip on short notice is always a plus for travel.
When booking a flight, pay attention to what a particular company’s cancellation policy is.
Some will allow you up to a full day before takeoff to drop out of the flight, while others are more strict, though you can likely expect to pay penalties if you cancel outside of the stated window.
Additionally, pay attention to the exact wording of different policies and assess all your options when you’re looking for a way to cancel.
For example, if a company will penalize you for canceling on short notice but will allow you to move to a different departure date at no or lower cost, move your takeoff to a time outside of the penalization window and cancel for free after that.
7. Select the Right Seats
Booking a ticket may let you pick your seat depending on which airline you fly with. If so, use this to your advantage in some creative ways.
For example, if you’re traveling with friends, one good way to stay comfortable is to select the window and aisle seat in a single row.
If someone ends up sitting between you, you can ask to be moved next to your friend, but if someone doesn’t, you’ve just got an entire row of seats to yourselves.
Additionally, pay attention to any notes about the seats you can pick. Do they recline all the way or just partially?
Is there a tray table in front of them? Are they located near an outlet or USB port?
Its little details like these can determine how enjoyable your flying experience is in the long haul.
SeatGuru is a tool that helps immensely in picking the right airplane seats.
Hacks for Packing
Once you’ve got your ticket in hand, the next step on your journey to…a journey is to pack your things.
While it may be somewhat straightforward, there are several ways you can make the process of packing and the eventual hassle of getting your things through security a lot easier.
8. Start Early
The best advice for packing for a trip is to start early. There’s nothing worse than waking up the day you’re supposed to leave and realizing all you’ve done up until now is toss some socks into a suitcase.
Start packing at least a week before you’re ready to leave. That gives you ample time to get it done and remember anything you might have forgotten in the days leading up to takeoff.
If you frequently travel, it might also be a good idea to invest in a suitcase full of essentials and clothing you can always have on standby, making it so you won’t need to pack much at all.
9. Make Lists
Listing out everything you need to take with you on your trip sounds simple. If you want to keep yourself from forgetting things before you leave, just have a list with you.
The key for a good list, though, is making it well in advance of when you actually need to act on it, giving yourself a chance to add new things to it as you think of them.
10. Master the Skivvy Roll
The skivvy roll is a technique created by Marines to quickly store as many supplies as possible in as small of a space as possible. Easy to learn and extremely efficient, you’ll start packing everything like this soon enough.
As detailed in this video, merely layer your clothing strategically with underwear and socks in the center.
Then just fold each article of clothes inward one at a time, building a bigger and bigger stack along the way.
Not only do you save on space and make packing a breeze, but you’ll also be able to reduce the amount of luggage you have to take with you.
11. Use Unique Luggage
Luggage that’s easy to spot saves you time when you’re collecting your bags. It’s also a lot easier to identify your bright pink and green suitcase next to all the black and gray ones circling around.
Packing is more than just tossing everything into a bag. If you’re not careful with your luggage, your things could be lost or ruined during transit.
That’s why it’s essential to organize your things as thoroughly as possible before you even leave the house.
When making a skivvy roll mentioned before, for example, you could also include a few essentials like a toothbrush in the center to save space.
Pill containers or other cheap organizers are great for jewelry, especially if transparent since it will be less of a hassle to get past security.
Additionally, try to avoid over packing. Traveling light is good to get to and from places quicker and making it less likely you’ll lose or forget a bag at the airport.
Hacks for at the Airport
Today’s the day. You’re headed out to catch your flight and, as you should, you’ve arrived several hours early. Now that you’re stuck there, what can you possibly do to make the experience of waiting a little easier? Quite a lot it turns out.
13. Use a VPN
We talked about VPNs earlier. While they’re helpful early on in the travel process, where they’re most useful is at the airport. While the public Wi-Fi network available is tempting, it’s also incredibly vulnerable to due to its unencrypted connection.
Because of this, hackers can easily see what data you transmit over the web, including important things like passwords and financial information.
With a VPN, though, your data is automatically encrypted to prevent anyone from snooping on your texts. It also makes it harder to infect your computer with malware.
All in all, there’s no reason not to use this kind of protection whenever you’re out in public.
14. Bring a Book
Even on a good day, expect to wait for a few hours at least for your flight to be ready. In the meantime, you’ll have to find a way to occupy yourself, and reading a book is as good a way to do this as any other.
Ideally, pack it into your carry on bag so that you can quickly retrieve and put it away at a moment’s notice and aren’t scrambling when they call your flight.
15. Keep Copies of your Boarding Pass
Many people have turned to apps for their booking experience.
While this is all well and good, there’s no shame in being careful.
If you have a digital boarding pass, make sure to print a copy before you leave and keep it with you while you’re at the airport.
Also, make sure to screenshot the pass itself and save it as its own picture. Between these two backups, you’ll be prepared in the event something goes wrong with the airline’s app or internet connection.
16. Skip the Lines
If you arrive at the airport and there’s a line leading out the door, don’t even bother trying to wait.
No, don’t just give up and leave. Instead, go take a seat somewhere, get something to eat, or go look around, as there’s no benefit to trying to check in at the moment.
While you should ideally check in when able, there’s no need to do so if the line leading to the counter is ridiculously long.
Once your flight is called, you’ll be allowed to skip to the front, as the people boarding the plane that’s arrived are given priority.
17. Sound the Alarm
You probably woke up this morning to an alarm telling you to get to the airport.
That worked really well, didn’t it?
So go ahead and set another alarm, this time for when you’re supposed to board.
You’d be surprised just how many people can completely ignore the loud intercom telling them to board, so just to be safe, give yourself that extra bit of insurance so you’re not left on the ground. Just remember to adjust as needed when the inevitable delays happen.
18. Bring Some Snacks
It’s hungry work waiting for a flight to arrive, so unless you’re okay with paying far too much for the same kind of fast food you’d get down the street, it’s a good idea to bring some snacks along for the ride.
Anything quick and easy to eat that’s going to give you energy is good, like protein bars or small candy.
There’s likely to be a place to get hot water around so something like oatmeal in a plastic bag could be a good idea.
Regardless of what you bring, though, it’s a good idea to finish it before you’re boarding, as any kind of food or drink can be a real hassle to get through security.
19. Get Creative when Charging Devices
The moment you walk into the airport, you’re bound to see dozens of people crowded around outlets trying to charge phones and computers.
Rather than fight for dominance in a losing battle, just walk over to a TV.
Most modern televisions have a USB port somewhere on the back or sides, letting you plug in and charge whatever you like so long as you remembered to bring a USB cable along for the ride.
Hacks for on the Airplane
You’re finally off the ground and flying through the sky. Whether it’s long or short, there’s plenty you can still do to make your trip even better.
20. Avoid the Front
If your seats are pre-chosen, finding the right one can make the difference between an enjoyable flight and a living nightmare.
One crucial thing to remember about picking seats is to stay away from the front few rows.
This is where flight attendants will most often put groups like families, and families usually mean screaming babies and noisy children. Keep your sanity by staying as far away as you can from all that hassle.
21. Keep the Essentials with You
Sleeping masks, blankets, pillows, socks, and more are all things you’ll need on the flight.
Rather than rely on the ones the planes provide that have likely been used by hundreds of people before you (and may or may not have been recently cleaned), just bring your own from home.
What you’ll need will depend on how long you expect your flight to last, but packing a couple essential items or stashing some things in your pockets can be a real lifesaver when you’re trying to rest and relax during the trip.
22. Try to Get a Wing Seat
Not only does it make for a great, photogenic view, sitting near the wings of a plane is the best way to avoid turbulence.
Being in almost the exact middle of the plane means the rocking motion is less pronounced, meaning you won’t have to deal with the bulk of the issue.
23. Stay Hydrated
Flying can really wear you out. One of the best ways to keep it together is through drinking water.
The shifts in altitude you experience can go a long way in dehydrating you, so ask for frequent water refills whenever possible, so you don’t feel like dying once you’ve hit the ground.
24. Change the Time
You’ve got plenty of time during your flight to do things, so why not consider the time?
That is the time zone for where you’re headed.
Take a couple minutes to change the clocks on things like phones, computers, and watches while you’re in the air.
That way, you’re ahead of the game once you land and won’t get woken up hours too early or too late the next morning by an improperly set alarm.
25. Be Careful What you Drink
Been there, done that, wish I didn't.
Everyone’s been tempted to get drunk on a long flight, if for no other reason than to help tune out those screeching babies.
This is the absolute worst idea you can have, though, since the last thing you want is to stumble out of the plane once you land and forget half your things.
Plus, imagine the brutal combination of hangover and jet lag that follows!
This goes double for coffee, too. Though mild, coffee is a diuretic, meaning it makes you pass water out of your system.
While that’s usually nothing to worry about, that bloated feeling post-flight is only going to be worse as your body retains way more water than it can afford to give up, with what you’re drinking to stay awake just making things worse.
Travel is tons of fun, but getting there can be a hassle.
To help minimize the stress and make the experience little more enjoyable overall, remember these crucial tips for each step along the way.