Travel can involve seeing famous monuments, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and learning new things. But it can also include frustration, inconvenience, and expense. Here are 12 travel tips that you need to know to help you maximize the benefits and minimize the headaches on your next journey.
Booking Your Flights
1. Book the first flight of the day
Unfortunately, you will have to get very early. But by taking off before the sun comes up, you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll have to deal with flight delays. Plus, you’ll get to your destination while there’s still some daylight left, giving you time to start exploring. And by booking at a “less desirable” time, you may be able to find lower rates.
2. Consider ALL the fees
That discount airline with the “too-good-to-be-true” price may be just that. Airlines like Spirit and Frontier offer incredibly low up-front rates, but they tack on fees for just about everything: carry-ons, checked luggage, seat selection, and even your in-flight water.
With rates for just a carry-on bag starting at $35 each way, you can easily lose out on all those savings. Make sure to consider what your all-in price will be, rather than just the ticket price, to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
3. Roll your clothes
Rolling your clothes, rather than folding them, is the way to go when packing. Rolling compresses the clothing more tightly, saving space and letting you get more into your luggage. Here is a short video with some best practices for rolling clothes efficiently.
4. Pack the necessities in your carry-on
Checked luggage goes awry sometimes. It’s part of the inevitability of air travel. Don’t end up spending money to replace basic necessities because your bag didn’t make your connection.
Medicine, travel documents, a change of clothes, your toothbrush — if you can’t do without it for 24 hours, it goes in your carry-on.
5. Keep your luggage smelling fresh
Grab a few dryer sheets and put them in a Ziploc baggie inside your suitcase. Take out one at a time and leave it in an open part of your luggage. As you start to wear and dirty your clothes, the dryer sheet will keep your clean clothes smelling fresh.
6. Keep dirty clothes separate
Bring a few old plastic grocery bags along in your luggage. When you take off your dirty clothes at night, put them in the plastic bags, rather than leaving them out with your clean clothes.
This will help keep your clean clothes smelling nice, and will also make unpacking easier when you get home. Just bring the full grocery bags directly to your washing machine.
Preparing for the trip
7. Make security a snap
Plan ahead to get through security as quickly and easily as possible. Get a TSA Precheck membership if you can. It’s only $85 for five years, and it lets you bypass the normal security checkpoint for a shorter line. Plus, you get to keep your shoes on.
If you are going through standard security, make it as simple as possible. Wear slip-on shoes for quick removal. Put items that you’ll have to remove from your bag (ie. electronics and liquids) within easy reach. And don’t wear clothes with lots of buckles and zippers. They may set off the metal detector, resulting in additional screening before you can move on.
8. Screenshot your important documents
It’s easy to assume that you’ll have access to Wi-Fi or your phone’s network when you need it. But you never know when you might walk into a service dead zone. You don’t want to be stuck unable to retrieve your hotel’s address or an important confirmation number when you need it.
Screenshot all of your important travel documents before you leave home. That way, you’ll be able to pull up those images whenever you need them, even in the most remote location.
9. Download maps to use offline
Another way you can get into trouble when you have no cell service? No online maps. If you speak the local language, you can ask for help. But what happens if there is no one around, or if your grasp of the lexicon is limited to “Where is the bathroom?”
Fortunately, you can download maps to your phone for later offline use. Follow this tutorial to make a mini-atlas that you can access whenever you want — no network required.
10. Make a cash exchange plan
If you’re traveling internationally, do a little research on the best ways to exchange currency in advance. You can buy foreign currency at your bank before your trip, or you can withdraw money from your bank’s ATM when you arrive at your destination.
Reach out to your bank to get some information on the most affordable methods. You’ll want to know exchange rates, ATM availability, and fees. Whatever you do, avoid airport exchange kiosks. They tend to have the worst rates.
At the Airport
11. Stay hydrated
Flying is a modern miracle, but the air in that you breathe in-flight leaves something to be desired. Because the air outside the plane is so cold, it’s unable to hold much moisture. So when it is brought into the ventilation system, it is much dryer than we’re used to on the ground.
Bring an empty, reusable bottle with you through security, and fill it up at an airport water fountain. Sip steadily to stay well-hydrated. You’ll feel better when you land.
12. Stay healthy
Don’t risk coming down with a nasty cold on day 2 of your 8-day European extravaganza! Flight crews do their best to keep airplanes clean, but they can’t disinfect the whole fuselage between each trip.
Take matters into your own hands. Start dosing up on an immune-booster like Emergen-C or Airborne before you travel. Bring disinfectant wipes with you, and wipe down your armrests when you get seated. You may get some looks, but no one has time to get sick! And again — hydrate!
With a little savvy flight shopping, planning ahead, and careful packing, you can enjoy smooth sailing through the friendly skies. Then you can focus on the really important things — like which sights photograph best for Instagram. Safe travels!