Good news, globetrotters: Traveling a ton doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re wondering how to pack efficiently, find the cheapest flight or score major hotel deals, you’ll love this ultimate travel hack list for explorers. Say sayonara to those pre-travel jitters, because your jet-setting ways just got way easier. You can thank us later.
Ever wondered if there’s a magic number of days before a flight when tickets are at their cheapest? Science has an answer for that. Fifty-four days before takeoff is, on average, when flights within the continental U.S. are at their absolute lowest price. And if you don’t hit 54 days on the head, you should usually book between 105 to 21 days before your trip ― within a so-called “prime booking window” ― for the lowest possible prices. In this period, ticket prices typically hover near the lowest price they’ll ever reach.
“I only pack clothes that are versatile and my best example of this is my brown leather boots that I can wear for a full day of hiking and out to dinner the same day. Recently I wore them dune bashing in Dubai and then to dinner at the Burj al Arab. The clothes you pack also need to have great wearability. Clothing that can only be worn once before a wash is a waste of space. I like merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker and Smart Wool. These can be worn days on end without needing to be washed and they seem to never smell.”
Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.
Asking is the quickest way to get a discount but it’s also the quickest possible way to piss off an Airbnb host. This is what differentiates the pros from the newbies. My general policy as a host — which I’ve been doing since 2011 — is to turn away hagglers because it signals a problem guest. It’s still possible, though, to get a confirmed booking and save some money without irritating a host so much they end up declining a guest’s inquiry outright. The trick is learning how to do it delicately.
Meeting and schedule changes at the final hour make last-minute travel sometimes inevitable. Booking last-minute flights usually leads to sky-high airfares, but there are ways to keep premiums at a minimal. Recent SAP Concur data revealed it’s best to book flights at least eight days or more in advance—tickets booked fewer than seven days prior to departure can be on average 44 percent more expensive than the same ticket booked 15 days in advance. You can save $148 per ticket by booking at least eight days out.
It is almost May. I’m slightly alarmed by this. Not just because the year is zipping by, and I’m wondering how I squandered away all that time with so little to show for it (Whither the sample chapter of the great American travel memoir, Everywhereist? Whither the clean laundry you were going to do?), but because I am coming up on another anniversary.
I am particular about having my toiletries organized and in one place. So, I was excited to find the "Hanging multi pocket cosmetic bag" from The Container Store. The hanging hook is the key to the product. It's great to bring to budget hotels that may not have much sink space. I can hang it on a lamp or on the door, and have my shampoo, perfume, makeup, cotton balls, etc. in one place. This is a travel essential must have!
Wear as much as you can rather than packing it. This doesn’t sound cool but it is one of the best trick. Wear extra clothes inside your over coat and later remove them once you are on your sear after boarding the flight. A little extra layer of clothes on your body will give you a lot of free space in your bag. Now you have some extra space in your suitcase to put some more items.
Most prepaid credit cards come with some surprising hidden fees, such as inactivity fees, reloading charges, monthly fees, activation fees, and so on. John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com, told CNNMoney, "Consumers need to realize that any insinuation that a prepaid card is less expensive than a debit card is false, and any claim that it will help you rebuild credit is just a lie."
This is why the group tours are popular, why people see things like "seven countries in 12 days" and think that that's a good thing. This is your big overseas trip and you want to see as much as possible – you want to tick as many boxes as you physically can. But that's a mistake. You have to trust that you'll travel again. Instead of trying to see everywhere at once, slow down, get to know one country, or maybe two, and your appetite will be whetted for a lifetime of similar adventures.
Don’t forget to squeeze in some light exercise in between flights and meetings. A 30-minute walk around the airport or a simple stretching routine when you feel tired is often all that is needed to refresh. Exercising also keep the body metabolizing at the ideal rate, which means you can sleep better at night and not have to worry about possible health problems ruining the trip.
If you are told there are no rooms available, in your most friendly tone, remind the hotel manager that you are a business traveler and that the hotel is one of your company’s preferred vendors (if true). If that doesn’t do the trick, report the incident to your travel manager immediately so they know where you’ll be spending the night and can take up the matter with the hotel as well.
I’m all about travelling on one-way tickets, because they give you the freedom to be spontaneous, change your mind, and extend your trip, if needed. My original itinerary had me heading to Australia after six months, but I ended up going to Thailand instead and stayed for seven months! You can’t get that kind of freedom on a round-the-world ticket. Plus, with so many budget airlines around, one-way tickets don’t have to even be that pricey.
It’ll likely be much heavier than you think. When I first went for a walk with mine, I went straight home and took out a third of the things I had in it. This will really help you narrow down what are essentials and what you don’t need. I even have a rule when I travel that I try to throw out three things from my backpack every time I travel to a new destination. It sounds like a lot, but I include things like the paracetamol tablets I haven’t taken in nine months or my spare pair of tweezers or the pile of receipts I’ve been lugging around.
Decades ago, before the Internet, one of the standard tips for travelers visiting Europe went this way: If you find you need to rent a car after you arrive in Europe, don't pay the high local rates. Instead, call the rental-car company's U.S. office and rent at the much lower rate quoted to U.S. travelers. Surprisingly, this recommendation is still valid. Book your car rental from a U.S. website to pay about half the local quote.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
Whenever you travel, it’s a great strategy to put together a networking dinner. This lets you learn about your target audience and gain new leads. Already have a customer or two in the city you’re visiting or a connection in your network? Invite them, and ask them to make introductions to a few others. Otherwise, you can use cold outreach. Frame the meal as a chance to get to know other folks in the same industry. Exchange business cards and tell people what you do but don’t pitch. Pay for the entire meal if you have the budget. Your guests will feel obliged to help you out when you later ask if you might do business with their company.
Buy Duplicates and Leave Them in Your Luggage: Once you take a few trips, you will see what you always need to travel with. Identify these items and buy one of each for your travel bag. Leave those items in the bag when you get home. A few items that never leave my travel bag include headphones, phone charger, lint roller, and all liquid toiletries.
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live without your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going au-natural – it’s liberating!)
Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.
When our co-founders, Fred and Jeremy, took their first trip to Europe, with the wrong bags, a lot travel hours were spent struggling with bad luggage. Out of that experience Tortuga backpacks was born and our quest to create the best carry on travel bag began. Everyone at Tortuga started with poor packing skills that evolved, by trial and error, as we learned things the hard way. Slowly, we developed systems for ourselves to streamline the packing process and make the chore of getting from A to B easier and more enjoyable.
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Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device.
Analysts at CheapAir.com reviewed more than 351 million individual airfares sold on more than a million international routes in 2016. They tracked flights from the day they went on sale (usually about 11 months in advance) until the day of takeoff to see when each fare hit its lowest point. The resulting map shows how many days before takeoff you should buy your ticket to score the best deal, on average, depending on your destination.
At least every six months I'll empty my laptop bag and suitcase and remove items that I don't regularly use. There are tons of travel and technology gadgets that seem like good ideas, and it can be tempting to pack backup clothing, batteries, and a half-dozen pairs of shoes, but at some point you're going to be dragging, lifting, and hauling those items while they contribute nothing to your trip. In all but rare cases, items from clothing to chargers are available nearly anywhere in the world, so six pounds of backup gear is probably not worth hauling for a year on the off chance you will need it and can't find a local replacement.
The best business traveler knows how to pack both the absolute minimum and everything he or she could possibly need. The basic key to this is remembering the purpose of the trip: business. A pro business traveler packs his or her personal items efficiently and packs a disaster kit for business because being shy that one adapter or not bringing a flash drive can cost one a deal.
Keep your clothing organized in compartments based on outfit type or activity type by using packing cubes. These zippered organizers make it easy to keep your bag neat and provide quick access to all the different things you'll need during your trip. You can use compression sacs or cubes to reduce the volume of your clothes by up to 80%. This is especially convenient for bulky items such as sweaters and jackets. And folders are great for keeping dress clothing nice, neat and folded.
If you're like me, when you pack your suitcase, you put your special stuff in other bags, like small zipper bags inside of your bigger bag. If you're nodding, then you know ID-ing those smaller bags can be time consuming. A no-brainer remedy is to simply drop your business card into every one of these little bags, including eyeglass cases, pouches for cables and chords, makeup and shampoo bags, and even shoe and dry cleaning bags. This has saved me many a trip to lost and found.
Work trip schedules run pretty tight and you may not have much time to get your regular requests done without sacrificing sleep. In addition to being as well-rested as possible before you go, get as up to date with your workload as possible to give yourself a buffer. It would also be worthwhile to see if there are any colleagues who can help pick up some slack while you’re out of the office, making sure they are aware of what might come up, and where they can find what they need.
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
Scan a copy of your passport, any visas, and any debit/credit cards you’re traveling with. Password protect the documents, and email a copy of them to yourself and to a family member . If everything you own gets stolen, you can access them safely from your email account, take your copies to your embassy as proof that you’re who you say you are. Plus, you’ll be able to buy flights home and pay for accommodation with your debit cards to keep travelling/go home in an emergency.
On average, travelers save about 30 to 40 percent when booking a vacation rental versus a comparable hotel. So in most cases you're already ahead of the game when you sit down to haggle over price. That's right, haggle. Property owners may not advertise that prices are negotiable, but often they are; and if not price, then at least the length-of-stay requirement may be flexible. A property may say it requires a week's stay, or a Sunday arrival, or any number of other rules. What this really means is the owner would prefer it. It can't hurt to ask, politely, if there's room for negotiation.
Downtown San Diego is less than 20 miles/32 kilometers north of the Mexican border and about 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, it’s 385 miles/620 kilometers) north to San Francisco and from there, another 90 miles/145 kilometers) northeast to Sacramento. You’d put about 190 miles/305 kilometers) on your car driving from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, and about 600 miles/965 kilometers) driving from Los Angeles to Mount Shasta in Northern California. Needless to say, California is ideal for road trips.
Here’s a confession: I gained around 20 pounds over my first few years of travel, mostly thanks to eating out for every single meal. While it can be tempting to treat yourself to junk food, and Pringles and Oreos will fuel your every travel day, resolve to have at least a few days every now and then when you go for the healthier option. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Aim to cut out the rice, bread, and beer to keep your calorie intake low if you’re feeling as though you’re gaining too much weight on the road.
Airports now have shower rooms, so it is much more convenient to refresh at the airport instead of wearing a suit throughout the flight. You’ll look fresher and more prepared for the meeting too. This is even easier when you’re flying on a private jet. You can refresh in-flight and simply hop onto the car that picks you up ready for the challenges to come. It is the ultimate way of flying indeed.
You’re probably not drinking enough, especially if you’re traveling through hot, humid countries. If you can drink the tap water, make the most of it and get your two litres of water a day. If not, help the environment by bringing a Steripen along, rather than buying dozens of plastic bottles of water — a Steripen kills more than 99.9% of harmful microorganisms, including giardia, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, making tap water safe to drink.
DVT causes leg pain, but the real concern is that part of the clot could break off and flow to the heart or brain, causing severe injury or death. In its DVT pamphlet for travelers, the FAA advises airline passengers to increase leg-muscle activity while flying by walking around in the cabin or exercising lower legs and ankles from a seated position.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
Recent polls have shown that Millennials are twice as likely to seek business trips than the Baby Boomer generation. The travel industry is also growing to account for the increased demand for business travel needs. New apps hit the market every day that cater to the unique needs of business travelers, and travel programs are now offered to help expedite the boarding and security process, as well as assist travelers in avoiding flight delays. As travel requirements change and new legislation is implemented, business travelers will also need up with these emerging trends.
When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island hopping and beach time, and entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer. Plus, it prevents premature ageing! I wear sunscreen every day, even in the middle of winter.
"It's not exactly in the middle of nowhere." That's what I find myself saying whenever someone says to me, "I'd never go on a transatlantic cruise." I have to admit, while not exactly in the middle of nowhere, there isn't a whole lot of activity going on around you, except maybe for an occasional whale or dolphin sighting. You do feel like you are out there all alone. Kind of.
Remember: Liquids, aerosols and gels that you carry on the plane must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and all fit in one 1-quart-sized bag. Need to swap your regular toiletries for ones that come in travel-friendly portions? "Sephora.com offers a whole section on their website dedicated to Airplane Approved Beauty," notes frequent traveler Kristin Grilli with Green Earth Media Group. Or transfer a favorite full-size beauty product into a reusable travel-size container: Nalgene offers a line of lightweight, unbreakable polypropylene travel-size containers.
While abroad for work, you shouldn’t lose the opportunity to get to know the city, its main attractions and hidden gems. A very fun and affordable way to do it is by taking a tour based on tips. In a few hours, you’ll have a good overview of the city and you can give what you want after the tour, according to your budget and experience. Most tours can be booked the day before, for free, which makes it the perfect option if you have a meeting canceled. As said, it’s also a very fun experience, as tour guides are doing their best to get more tips. Ideal for unwinding after a busy day.
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at email@example.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
No-where did we find this more frustrating than in Cambodia. Like a lot of countries, Cambodia is quite cheap to travel when compared to Western countries, but are they still largely dependent on using the US Dollar, with the Riel only used for very small transactions. However, all the ATMs seem to be loaded with $100 bills, and don’t charge a % fee, they charge by transaction! This means it makes sense to get larger sums out, to avoid being charged multiple transaction fees.
3. Always keep an energy bar in your carry-on bag. During one seven-hour delay I experienced in Miami, the airport vendors had literally sold out of food. If it’s a winter blizzard or a massive string of delays, you may be out of luck. Prepare in advance by keeping an energy bar in your bag so you’re always ready in case disaster strikes. Pro tip: At the grocery store buy your favorite kind in bulk -- they often sell them in boxes of 12 or more.
"Unless you're traveling super long haul, you don't need a $50 neck pillow or $300 noise canceling headphones. Bring some foam earplugs if you want to sleep on the plane, and roll up your jacket for a pillow. Same comfort for a lot less money," says Hester, a writer at Our Next Life early retirement blog, and veteran of "100+ flights a year and 80+ hotel nights."
A business trip is not a holiday. You will be expected to be on your game at the drop of a hat, so this is perhaps the worst time to disrupt your regular diet. Rather than turning to comfort foods, consider a healthy comfort meal that you can eat – as sad as it may sound – as frequently as possible, especially when traveling abroad. The best way to minimize stress on your body and disruptions to your routine is going to be keeping your meals simple and healthy. While some companies provide business travelers with prepaid meal cards for healthier restaurant chains, if you are one of those on your own with the company card:
I cite leaving my comfort zone as the number one way in which travel has helped me. It was leaving my comfort zone that gave me confidence in my abilities as a traveller. It helped me to overcome my anxiety disorder by showing me the things I was panicking about rarely happened — and if they did, they were never as bad as they thought they would be. And it introduced me to new experiences — most of which I unexpectedly loved!
Invest in Luggage: After you figure out if you will be a “carry-on only” or “check only” type of business traveler, invest in a lightweight, durable piece of luggage that has a warranty. The same goes for a laptop bag. Whether you choose a shoulder bag or backpack, make sure it has a lot of padding and distributes weight evenly. You do not want your luggage breaking in the middle of an airport.