If “travel more” is at the top of your to-do list for 2020 but you need a little help on the planning front, you’ve come to the right place. Leading a jet-set lifestyle may sound complicated (and oh-so glamorous), but with just a few simple travel tips from the experts here at PlacePass, you can most definitely make it a reality. From quick weekend trips to global excursions, we’ve got the best travel tips for any adventure you have in mind. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or newbie tourist, these travel hacks make it easy to pick and go whenever your wanderlust strikes.
1. Follow these travel tips for cheap flights
A budget-friendly flight isn’t impossible to find, you just need to know how to go about booking it. These tips for cheap flights can help you get to your destination with a little extra cash in your pocket:
- Book at least three weeks in advance. Ticket prices tend to increase a few weeks before your departure date.
- Be flexible with your travel dates. The cheapest day to fly domestically can vary by airport, so check your local carriers for the lowest rates. If you’re traveling internationally, Thursday and Friday flights usually offer the best deals.
- Consider flying on a budget airline. Be wary of additional fees for carry ons and don’t plan on getting any free snacks or drinks
- Keep an eye out for last-minute getaways and all-inclusive trips
As you start planning your trip, these flight tracker sites can help you find the absolute best deals:
2. Stash a mini duffle bag in your suitcase
Let’s be honest—everyone needs a souvenir (or many souvenirs) from their travels, but figuring out how to bring them all home can be a challenge. Pro tip: Instead of trying to fit them all in with your luggage, just bring a separate bag to pack them in. Consider a duffle bag that’s small enough to be used as a carry on (and just make sure you aren’t putting anything in it that might be flagged by security). Need some help? Check out our favorites:
- Herschel: This mid-range brand is durable and surprisingly roomy—you can fit a ton in each bag. With multiple storage sleeves, durable metal hardware, and removable straps, there’s a lot to like.
- Lands’ End: The durable polyester fabric can handle the rough and tumble of airplane travel, and the leather trim gives this bag a sophisticated look. The interior pockets give you plenty of room to haul your souvenir stash back home.
- Eddie Bauer: This budget-friendly option is lightweight and made from durable ripstop polyester. Its smaller size makes it easy to carry or fit into your luggage. When it’s not in use, the space-saving design folds up and packs into one of its end pockets.
3. Get to know your destination on a food tour
This travel hack is one of our top international travel tips. No matter where you go, there is no better way to get to know your destination than with a local food tour. You can learn a lot about the people and culture of a city through what they eat. Indulge your foodie side with:
- A Reykjavik food lovers tour filled traditional Icelandic dishes
- A taste of Africa in Harlem
- A tour of Edinburgh’s secret food scene
- A tuk tuk food tour in Xian
- A walking tour of Merida’s street food scene.
4. Call your cell phone provider for international options
If you’re traveling to another country, you don’t want to get there and realize your cell phone doesn’t work—or worse, come home to a massive bill due to roaming charges. Many providers have plans that allow you to use your domestic call, text, and data plan for a set daily fee, but check to make sure your plan is supported in the country you’re traveling to. All major carriers offer international plans:
- Verizon’s TravelPass is the cost of your monthly plan plus $5/day per device for calls made in Mexico and Canada. For $10/day per device, you’ll be covered in over 130 countries. The number of calls and texts you can make is the same as your domestic plan, and high speed data is capped at 512MB/day (speeds are reduced after that).
- AT&T already offers unlimited calling and texting in Canada and Mexico for users with the Unlimited&More and Unlimited&More Premium plan. Their International Day Pass costs up to $80/month or $10/day depending on your needs. You’ll get unlimited texts at no additional charge. Call minutes and data are the same as your current plan.
- T-Mobile’s OnePlus plan costs $85/month. Customers pay a flat fee of 25 cents per call and receive unlimited texts in more than 210 countries. Unlimited data speeds are also included up to 256 kbps. Note: T-Mobile also let’s you add unlimited calls to landlines in over 70 countries and unlimited calls to mobile lines in over 30 countries , plus unlimited texting, for an additional $15/month on top of your existing plan.
- Sprint doesn’t offer a traditional international plan, but if you have an iPhone 5 or higher, Global Roaming is included in your plan for free. Depending on your destination, unlimited texting and 2G of data is included and calls typically cost 20 cents per minute. The catch? If your phone isn’t LTE/GSM-capable, you can’t opt in.
If you don’t want to cough up the extra fees on your plan (it can add up quickly, especially if you’re going to be gone for a while), consider an international SIM card. Incoming calls and texts are usually free, and you can choose from several calling, SMS, and data plans. Find out how to change a SIM card in iPhones or Androids. And if you’re still worried about potential charges while traveling, we have a simple travel hack to keep your data use to a minimum (it’s called WiFi).
5. Plan ahead with skip-the-line tickets from PlacePass
If you’re traveling somewhere new, you don’t want to show up to your destination with nothing planned and nowhere to go. Skip-the-line tickets can get you easy access to some of the world’s top destinations and will save you a ton of time from having to stand in long, tourist-filled lines. Some of our favorite activities include:
- Exploring the colorful marine life at the New England aquarium
- Wandering around the world-famous Louvre Museum
- Soaking in the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower
- Cruising the canals of Amsterdam
- Pretending you’re royalty at Prague Castle
- Taking an underground tour of the catacombs of Paris
6. Get yourself the perfect suitcase
An essential on our list of travel hacks is to get yourself a suitcase that meets your travel needs. An organized suitcase can help keep your stress levels low, your packing game on point, and leave plenty of room for souvenirs. Which suitcase you choose depends on your own personal taste and style. Check out three of our favorite brands:
- Away: Away’s reasonably priced suitcase line is made from a durable signature polycarbonite material and comes in an array of colors and sizes perfect for weekend getaways or long-term excursions. You can choose to include cool interior organization accessories—like a Dopp kit or garment sleeve—for an extra cost. Our favorite feature is the optional, airline-compliant ejectable battery that can be used to charge your phone and devices.
- Samsonite: This main-stay brand has been around for over 100 years, and for good reason. With carry on, checked, hardside, and softside options, you’ll definitely find something that works for your plans (and budget). The TSA-approved lock panel also includes an integrated USB port to charge your devices.
- Eagle Creek: If you’re tough on your stuff, this is the brand for you. Outdoorsy types will love the abrasion-resistant material, over-sized wheels for off-roading capabilities, and device compartment that holds laptops and tablets up to 17 inches.
7. Invest in packing cubes
It’s not what you pack, it’s how you pack, and our travel hacks would be incomplete if we didn’t mention packing cubes. Packing cubes let you separate your stuff into different categories, like airplane essentials, toiletries, hotel necessities, and clothes, so you can find what your need quickly and easily. Popular choices include:
- REI: Their expandable cubes comes in three different sizes—small, medium, and large—so you can squeeze as much as you need to into each one. In true REI style, they’re made from water-resistant ripstop nylon and come with a see-through mesh pocket and card so you can easily label and identify each cube.
- Sea to Summit: With a variety of mesh garment bags, sacks, and shirt folders, Sea to Summit has everything you need for ultimate luggage organization. Each ultra-light piece packs flat when it’s empty and they are all made from water-resistant Ultra-Sil fabric and durable nylon yarn.
- eBags: Their budget-friendly options are made from breathable mesh for easy ventilation and identification. Mix and match the pieces you need to create a set that fits your luggage perfectly.
8. Use toiletry bags and small containers for liquids
Every list of travel hacks has this oldie but goodie on it—pack your bathroom essentials, like makeup, deodorant, Q-tips, and cotton balls, in a toiletry bag for easy access and put your liquids in small, easy-to-pack containers. Your toiletries might come in handy if you want to freshen up on a long flight or have an activity planned as soon as you land. And don’t be that person in the airport frantically rifling through their suitcase at security—if you’re only planning to use a carry on, pack your liquids on top so you can easily take them out for inspection.
9. Save a custom map of your destination and itinerary
If you’re going to a previously unexplored country or destination where you don’t know your way around, Google Maps lets you create a map with your hotel and key points and save it offline for easy access. First, make your own map and pin all the places you’ll need to get to. Google maps lets you:
- Personalize your map with icons, colors, photos, and videos
- Add points or draw shapes
- Import maps from spreadsheets
- Search, find, and save places
You can also save your map offline, so it’s easily accessible even if you don’t have internet access. Use the Google Maps app just as you normally would, and it will use your offline maps to give you directions if your internet access is spotty. The instructions for offline use differ for iPhone and Android users.
If you have an iPhone:
- Make sure you are connected to the internet
- Open and sign in to the Google Maps app
- Search for a place or address
- Scroll down to the bottom, tap the name or address, and tap more
- Select Download offline map > download
If you have an Android:
- Make sure you are connected to the internet
- Open the Google Maps apps and sign in
- Search for your destination by name or address
- Scroll down, tap the name or address, and tap download
- If you searched for a destination like a restaurant, tap More > Download map > download
10. Don’t forget a power adapter and converter
This is another one of those travel tips that is so simple but so important to remember if you’re traveling abroad. Do not, we repeat do not, forget a power adapter. If you’ve traveled internationally before, you know that different countries have different electrical outlets. In fact, there are at least 15 different types around the world. A power adapter works as a go-between—one side plugs fits into the prongs of the outlet and your devices plug into the other side.
But wait—there’s more. Most countries (except for the U.S. and Canada) use an electrical voltage of 220/240V. American and Canadian devices are designed for 110/120V, meaning even if you have the right adapter, they still won’t work in another country with a higher voltage. A power converter will decrease the voltage traveling from the outlet to your appliance, saving your hair dryer and curling iron from getting absolutely fried. Some newer products have “dual voltage” that is compatible worldwide—if you travel a lot and are in the market for some new travel appliances, consider looking for this feature.
11. Pack a water bottle with a filter
If you’re worried about drinking the water when you reach your destination, or you’re heading out on an adventure where there will be no running water and only streams to drink from, a water bottle with a built-in filter will be your best friend. Not only will it give you peace of mind as you quench your thirst, but it will also reduce the amount of plastic bottles you use. Not sure which one to get? Here are three of our favorites:
- Brita Sport Bottle: These medium-range bottles cost between $25-$35. Choose from a stainless steel option with double-wall insulation or the cheaper plastic version. Both come with leak-proof lids, can hold up to 26 ounces of water, and come in a bunch of fun colors.
- Lifestraw Go: At around $45, these bottles are a bit more expensive but the long-lasting quality of each make them a good long-term buy. The microbial filter on these award-winning bottles offers clean water for up to five years. Each one is BPA free and perfect for travel, outdoor activities, or emergencies. The best part? For every purchase, the company provides a child in need with clean water for an entire year.
- GRAYL: Coming in at almost $90, this is definitely the priciest option, but if you frequently need to drink water in sketchy places, it’s well worth the money. Each bottle can purify up to 24 ounces of water in just eight seconds using GEOPRESS and protects against global pathogens, viruses, bacteria, protozoan cysts, pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, and microplastics.
12. Ensure a good night’s sleep with melatonin
Ah, melatonin—the natural sleep aid. Our list of travel tips wouldn’t be complete with a travel hack on how to combat jet lag and different time zones. This hormone is naturally produced in the body and is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm and natural sleep cycle. In pill form, it’s widely available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter medication, but some areas of the world require a prescription. Studies have shown it’s a safe and non-addictive option to help you sleep.
If you’re taking an overnight flight, take a pill about 30 minutes before you want to catch some shut eye. It can help you fall asleep (and stay asleep) so you feel rested when you land. Stick to the recommended dosage listed on the bottle to avoid any potential adverse effects.
13. Bring a cross-body bag for everyday use
The last thing you want when you’re traveling is to have your hands and pockets bogged down with everyday accessories like your sunglasses, camera, wallet, phone, and lip balm. Throw a cross-body bag into your suitcase as you’re packing to use for day trips and daily activities. It can hold everything you need so you’re hands are free to eat, drink, and explore.
14. Remember to pack a power bank
Picture this: You’re in the most scenic place you’ve ever seen and are about to snap the most insta-worthy pic of all time. You grab your phone—only to realize the battery is dead.
This doesn’t need to be a travel catastrophe if you one of our most important travel hacks—pack a power bank. These nifty portable batteries can be used to charge your mobile devices when you don’t have access to an outlet and charger. They range in size and capabilities, and what you get depends on your needs. Look for features like fast charging, input and output ports for device compatibility, and wireless charging. Some popular brands include Anker Belkin, and Mophie.
Cheaper options, like iQuinx Mini Charger, are also great for those on a budget. Just keep in mind that they typically only work on phones and not other mobile devices.
15. Utilize Google Translate
Finally, this travel tip comes in handy when you travel to a country where you don’t know a lick of their language. Google Translate lets you translate any word or phrase right from your phone. You can even download a language onto your Google Translate app to use as reference without utilizing any data. Follow these steps to use it:
- Download the free app to your iPhone or Android
- At the top of the screen, set your native language as the language you’re going to translate from
- Choose the language you want to translate to from the drop-down menu
- Tap “Touch to Type”
- Type in the word or phrase you want to translate and tap the blue arrow
- The translation will appear in the blue box
The best laid travel plans involve plenty of planning and organization. These travel hacks and packing tips can help your next trip go smoothly, so you can spend more time enjoying your destination. Visit PlacePass to find and book the best activities and excursions at destinations around the world.