99 Travel Hacks To Make Your Next Trip A Little Easier
I’ve never cared about brand-name purses or clothing, much less cars or makeup. Instead, I spend whatever leftover money I can on travel. Traveling has exceptional “memory dividends” long after the money’s gone and is the best way to experience all the world has to offer (at least, in my humble opinion).
I’ve now been to 30+ countries and hundreds of cities—from rural northern Thailand to Moorea in French Polynesia to most of the United States—so I’ve picked up quite a few hacks here and there to make traveling the best experience it can be. Below, I’m sharing 99 of my best tips so you can spend less time planning and questioning and more time experiencing and enjoying. Got more? Share them in the comments; we don’t gate-keep here!
Wherever you’re heading—whether by plane, train, or bus—safe travels and happy exploring! 🌍
1. To save time, only pack a carry-on; no more waiting at baggage claim!
2. If you decide to check a bag in, throw an Airtag into your suitcase, so you can always track where it is and ensure it’s reached your destination.
3. For the best possible travel deals, be flexible on your destination and dates. I’ve scored deals to multiple European cities for under $200 by leveraging that flexibility.
4. Perhaps the most important tip of all: Always buy travel insurance. Always.
5. Allocate all your spending on a credit card that racks up points which can later be redeemed for travel—my preferred option is Chase Sapphire Reserve or the AmEx Gold.
6. Sign up for credit card bonuses that offer up to 150,000 points once you hit a minimum spending bonus—I like to check Nerdwallet’s top credit card offers (updated monthly) to see the best bonuses.
7. Search for flights leaving at off-peak times (for example, mid-week, red eyes, or with a layover) if you’re trying to save money.
Prioritize early morning flights; they’re the least likely to be delayed or canceled.
8. If convenience is more important than money, prioritize early morning flights; they’re the least likely to be delayed or canceled.
9. Use Google Incognito or a VPN to search for flights. Searching on the same browser and internet connection tells the airline that you’re looking to book and allows them to hike the price up.
10. Once you find a flight you like—if you’re not ready to book—set up an alert to be notified if the price changes. If it drops, great! If not, you’ll know to book soon or keep an eye on it in case it comes back down.
12. Sign up for loyalty programs with every airline you can; you never know when you’ll need to use them, and you can rack up miles for later use.
13. If you’re used to one specific airline, see if they have an airline-specific credit card for additional bonuses and perks. For example, United Airlines has major hubs in both our hometowns and our current cities so we have the United MileagePlus cards, which offer early boarding, free baggage, and 60,000 points each.
14. Keep an eye out for points sales, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, 30% off transfer premiums, and more. (This is always a good option to keep in mind if you just need a few more points for a mostly-free flight!)
15. Look into mistake fares (deeply discounted fares mistakenly shared by an airline). They can sometimes be canceled or refunded, but many times, airlines will honor them anyway. One time, I was able to travel to Milan, Prague, and Amsterdam for $197 one-way from New York.
17. If you have a few bucks to spare, sign up for flight deals from Going (previously known as Scott’s Cheap Flights). You’ll share your departure airports of choice, and you’ll receive deals right in your inbox.
18. Sign up for TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, or Global Entry to expedite the security process.
19. Once you’re past security but before you get to the gate, check out the Priority Pass, which will give you access to hundreds of lounges around the world. Both Chase and AmEx offer cards with Priority Pass access, and once you get to a lounge, you can stock up on free food, drinks, WiFi, and more.
20. Heading abroad? Use a third-party encrypted program like WhatsApp, Viber, or Signal for international texts and calls—you can avoid extra data and call charges!
Alert your credit and debit card companies about your travel so you don’t get flagged for fraud.
21. If you need access to international calls, buy a SIM card locally—you can usually find kiosks in the airport after arrival, or sometimes your carrier will offer a global SIM card for temporary use.
22. Alert your credit and debit card companies about your travel so you don’t get flagged for fraud.
23. Get a no-fee ATM for international destinations; my favorite is the Charles Schwab.
24. Only ask for ATM withdrawals in the local currency, not your native one.
25. Same for credit card charges; if you’re in Italy, pay with your card in Euros, not USD (for example). Then you’ll avoid fees and often score better conversation rates.
26. Download the airline app before you fly for easy access to your boarding pass, checking in, and seat or meal selection.
27. While you’re at it, you can check out the seat map on most flights to see what’s open and change seats accordingly.
28. You may even find an open seat in First or Business Class—consider politely asking for an upgrade. You never know if they’ll say yes!
29. If your travel plans are flexible, volunteer for a later flight when they’re offering compensation to offset the cost of the airfare.
30. If you decide to volunteer, try and wait to see if they’ll increase the compensation before you agree. Sometimes, you can get thousands of dollars in flight vouchers if you hold out long enough.
31. Buffer in extra time for delays—always.
32. Have a connecting flight? Aim for at least a 90-minute layover in between to avoid missing your flight in case of delays, security issues, etc.
33. Travel during shoulder season (i.e., not quite peak time yet). For example, if June-August is the best time of year to visit Greece, consider going in May or September for lower prices but still preferable conditions.
34. Don’t cut costs over convenience either, though—if you know you suffer from insomnia and back pain, taking a red eye in economy to save $100 may not be worthwhile. Similarly, don’t go for the cheapest hotel without thorough vetting; you don’t want to be stuck three miles from the beach without a bike because you didn’t know how far it was!
35. Check out alternative modes of transport besides the typical plane or car: Trains, bikes, public transportation, buses…the list goes on. These are often cheaper, better for the environment, and more accessible.
Create a default packing list for yourself that you can copy and tailor for each trip.
36. Create a default packing list for yourself that you can copy and tailor for each trip. This way, you’ll know you’ve included all the necessities most important to you, like specific medications, chargers, and toiletries.
37. Wear layers while in transit—it’s easier to pack your luggage, and you can stay warm (or cool) as needed.
38. If you suffer from swollen ankles or potential blood clots when sitting in one place for hours, get a pair of compression socks. There’s a reason many travel pros swear by them!
39. Another must? A reusable water bottle. Perfect for refilling inside the airport after security, carrying with you on tours, and having in case of emergency.
40. Heading to a place without clean, potable water? Don’t forget to bring a water filter or purifier for when you’re on the go.
41. Easily organize your suitcase (and save space!) with packing cubes.
42. If you’re really in need of space, consider vacuum bags to compress all your clothes.
43. If you know you’ll want to shop or bring back many souvenirs, get a secondhand suitcase at your local thrift store for cheap and fill ‘er up.
44. Don’t bring too many valuables. Many women travel pros will wear fake wedding rings to avoid burglaries or attacks.
45. Always tell someone at home what your itinerary is and where you’ll be. Even better if you can tell someone you trust locally in case of an emergency. #safety
46. Turn on location services and sharing, too, for good measure.
Print out extra copies of your passports and travel docs; keep digital copies in your email as well.
47. Print out extra copies of your passports and travel docs; keep digital copies in your email as well. Losing your passport is all too easy!
48. Need to drive worldwide? Don’t forget to pick up an International Driver’s Permit, which are readily available at most AAA locations.
49. Want to save money or avoid excess noise? Stay slightly away from downtown city centers and tourist spots—usually going even two or three blocks away can make all the difference.
50. Another way to cut costs is to consider house-sitting or couch surfing, depending on your level of comfort.
51. Hostels are another great budget-friendly accommodation option; it’s also a wonderful place to meet like-minded people and organize local tours.
52. Weigh the cost of laundry versus the cost of a checked bag. Sometimes packing light and doing laundry will be far cheaper than paying for an extra suitcase.
53. Pack a capsule wardrobe for easy mix ‘n matching for your daily #lewks.
54. Think about items you may need at a destination that you’ll end up paying a premium for later and see if you can get them beforehand. For example, sunblock at a tropical destination will be far more expensive than getting it in the off-season in the Midwest.
55. Pack an essentials kit in case you need certain toiletries or accessories while in transit—for example, a small bag with spare underwear, ear plugs, eye mask, tampons, and charging wires.
56. Carry a purse or travel bag that you can keep close on your body, closed with zippers rather than buttons or flaps. This will help stop pickpockets!
57. Pack extra snacks. Just trust me on this one! You never know when you may need sustenance and can’t find anything worthwhile.
If you can, take the day off after you get home so you can ease back into everyday life.
58. If you can, take the day off after you get home so you can ease back into everyday life. Then you can finish up any chores or errands like laundry, grocery shopping, and more without worrying about rushing back into the office.
59. In your carry-on backpack or purse, keep an extra set of clothes, a toothbrush, and undies in case your luggage gets lost. (Which is another reason why you always want travel insurance!)
60. If you’re not using data and/or are heading to a remote area, download offline versions of Google Maps and take screenshots of any information you need.
61. If you’re heading to a foreign country and the local language isn’t one you speak, download the Google Translate app. You can then converse with locals, take photos of written text to translate, and more. (This was an invaluable tool when I was stranded in northern Thailand during a downpour once!)
62. Download media a day or two before you leave, so you can access it while traveling—think audiobooks, ebooks, Netflix, etc.
63. Get the best portable charger you can afford if you know you’ll be relying on your phone throughout the trip. You’ll never regret it.
64. Pack a universal adapter so you can use your electronic devices around the globe.
Pack a universal adapter so you can use your electronic devices around the globe.
65. Don’t forget a converter too, if your electronics’ voltage doesn’t match up to the outlets abroad.
66. Getting a rental? Book the reservation on a credit card like Chase or AmEx, which offers auto insurance and collision insurance for rentals.
67. If that’s not an option, it’s well worth getting auto insurance from the rental company.
68. Take photos of everything important: The condition of your rental when you pick it up/drop it off, receipts if you’re going to be reimbursed or splitting costs, WiFi passwords, and so on.
69. Make sure you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations and shots, which vary by country. (And don’t wait until the last minute to book your appointment!)
70. Read. The. Reviews. Make sure you look for any bots or planted reviews, and keep an eye out for any red flags, whether you’re searching for accommodations, a tour, or restaurants.
72. Sometimes DIYing a trip can be helpful, but other times, a good travel agent is the most valuable. They’ll get access to exclusive discounts, tours, or accommodations that you couldn’t leverage otherwise.
73. If you’re considering traveling with a friend or partner, ensure your travel priorities are aligned before leaving. Nothing will be more frustrating than having a companion sleep in when you’re a morning person or dealing with a racket first thing in the morning if you’re a night owl.
74. In the same vein, learn many of your destinations’ cultural nuances and customs—it’s important to be considerate and mindful of the communities you’re visiting.
75. Heading to a faraway destination? Try pairing nearby cities together on this trip so you knock out two at once.
76. Stay hydrated, especially when traveling. We’re already adjusting to new environments, time zones, etc., and hydration is key for our bodies to adapt.
Get sunlight as early as possible when you’re in a new time zone to help reset your circadian rhythm.
77. Get sunlight as early as possible when you’re in a new time zone to help reset your circadian rhythm.
78. Napping to adjust a timezone is okay, but try staying awake the whole day and sleeping at night to beat jet lag once and for all.
79. Chew gum while taking off or landing if your ears pop while in flight.
80. Invest in a quality skin mask or moisturizer, lip balm, and lotion during and post-flight when our skin is driest.
81. Luggage scales can be clutch—if your baggage is overweight and you can’t rid yourself of any items, you’ll be on the hook for hefty excess fees.
82. Traveling with kiddos? Bring a “busy bag” to keep them entertained throughout the day, stocked with coloring books, toys, a tablet, snacks, and whatever else your little one prefers.
83. If you’re dealing with long-haul travel, you’ll want a quality neck pillow—this is mine and I’m obsessed.
84. If you can, opt for a backpack over a suitcase or duffel. There’s a good chance transportation carriers won’t bother to weigh your backpack!
Whatever you’re budgeting for your trip, add another 10-20% in case of emergency.
85. Whenever you get samples like shampoo, moisturizers, or sunscreen, throw them in your travel toiletry bag. That way, you don’t need to bring the bulk items or worry about the liquid limit.
86. Throw a lavender satchel or a dryer sheet in your bag to keep things smelling…fresh. 🙂
87. Pack at least two extra large plastic or ziplock bags for shoes, dirty clothes, etc.
88. Opt for a bright-colored suitcase so it’s easy to spot at baggage claim or while in transit.
89. If you’re flying with another person and can book your seats in advance, one of you can take the window and the other can take the aisle. That way, the middle seat will likely be left open for you both to enjoy.
90. Always keep a spare pen on you, especially if you know you’ll have to fill out customs forms or write down directions.
91. Take a picture of your car or write down where it is in your notes app so you don’t forget where you’ve parked, whether at an airport parking lot or a new hotel.
92. Bring extra wipes or a sanitizer spray for when there’s no washroom or when things need some tidying…like your tray table.
93. Whatever you’re budgeting for your trip, add another 10-20% in case of emergency.
94. Check out local walking tours in big cities; they’re often free or pay-what-you-can and are a great way to see the most important sights and get acquainted.
95. Some businesses offer deals if you book with a partner company—for example, United MileagePlus members earn savings if you book a car rental through Avis or Budget.
Travel is one of the most valuable experiences there is in life. Enjoy every moment, be mindful and respectful, and explore as much as you can.
96. Don’t forget to check if you’ll need a visa for specific countries! Or, prioritize countries where you won’t need one for ease of access and to save money.
97. Eat street food (as long as it’s cooked in front of you and looks safe!). It’s often one of the best ways to enjoy a local culture.
98. Make lunch your biggest meal—it’s usually cheaper than dinner while being just as filling.
99. Most importantly, remember: Travel is one of the most valuable experiences there is in life. Enjoy every moment, be mindful and respectful, and explore as much as you can.
Henah Velez (she/her) is the Senior Editor at Money with Katie at Morning Brew, as well as a writer at The Good Trade. She holds a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship and is a proud Rutgers grad. Originally from NJ, Henah’s now in the Bay Area where she loves shopping small, hanging with her pets, or traveling. Say hi on Instagram!