When’s the best time to book a flight? How can a free upgrade actually cost you money? Why are duct tape, petroleum jelly, and dental floss among the most valuable things you can pack? Find out the answer to these and many other questions with our list of the 101 travel tricks you need to try. (And then add your own tips and tricks in the comments area below!)
1. Use a travel checklist. Even if you travel all the time, it’s easy to forget something. We should follow the advice of Atul Gawande in his popular book The Checklist Manifesto: To optimize performance, whether you’re a pilot, a doctor or a business traveler, keep a checklist and cross things off until you’re sure you have everything you need. Here’s an early version of the checklist I use today. (It is quite extensive.)
“Place all your clothes into your bag vertically so it looks more like a filing cabinet; this way you can see all the clothes you have with you without having to lift up or remove the ones on top. From here you not only have a better view (and reminder) of how many shirts or pairs of pants you have but you can also see which shirts (or whatever clothing item) stand out and potentially don’t match your outfits. Remove the oddballs.”
Unfortunately, UK residents (and basically anyone who isn’t in the US) just don’t have access to the crazy amount of points that Americans can get with credit cards and whatnot. It’s not much of a thing in the UK — there are rarely signup bonuses, and if there are, they’re crap. I’m really not loyal to one particular airline, either — I fly with budget airlines 99% of the time, which don’t have rewards programs, and I only take one or two long-haul flights a year. Also! Because I spend a lot of my time in developing countries, I very rarely pay for things with a card, so I probably wouldn’t meet spending requirements.
Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
Every business trip is different. Certain trips are filled with meetings from the moment you land, while others are more relaxed and let you enjoy gaps between schedules. Regardless of your schedule, always dress comfortably for the flight. Forget about wearing a suit; you will not be able to snatch some rest during the flight with a formal business attire.
I used to be disastrous with my tech, but now that I have cases for everything, I’m doing much better. It’s worth getting a shell for your laptop, a keyboard cover for accidental spills, a sturdy case for your Kindle, and a waterproof case for your phone. Replacing tech is expensive and spending a day trying to figure out which island you need to fly to in the Philippines in order to get your laptop repaired is frustrating.
You must be age 18 or older to purchase tobacco products in the state. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings (including restaurants, bars, and casinos) and enclosed spaces throughout California. It is illegal to smoke within 20 feet of doorways or windows of government buildings. Most large hotels have designated smoking rooms; if you smoke, request one—most hotels will fine guests who smoke inside a nonsmoking room. Many cities in California have passed ordinances prohibiting smoking in public areas, and smoking is prohibited in some national and state park buildings and areas.
Our company is really focused on growth and has to be frugal with all expenses. This is especially important with business travel. I maximize our rewards points earned from AMEX and Capital One credit cards to cover the costs of all our company’s business travel costs. Using Capital One points allows you to book Delta flights and still earn SkyMiles that can be used for future travel. It’s the most powerful travel savings combination possible. As a matter of fact, I am currently in Guangzhao, China, meeting with suppliers, and all my flights and hotels were paid for with rewards points.
Traveling with kids like us? Then spend more time in fewer places. Don’t try and go everywhere and do everything – that’s a recipe for burnout and blowing your budget! Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, slow down and take more in. Constantly having to pack and unpack, spend time searching for flights and accommodation and transport, and deal with different time zones, currency changes, and even visa issues can be exhausting.
Your tips are great, and I definitely agree with #1. Like you, we started off traveling as a couple. In fact, we met when we were both backpacking through Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam. Now that we have a toddler, we tend to pick family-friendly vacation destinations. This year, we traveled to Barbados for two weeks. The beaches are amazing, the food is awesome, and most importantly, the locals are very friendly.
Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities, mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants, and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxe retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for kids, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.
TripAdvisor is fine when you need opening hours or an address, but when it comes to reviews I ignore it completely. People always leave a negative review when something bad happens but rarely leave a positive review when something good happens so the reviews tend to be skewed. On top of that, it’s very easy to create fake reviews and make a place seem better than it is. Many hotels and restaurants hire firms to artificially inflate their reviews on the platform. Additionally, TripAdvisor has been known to take down reviews that are overly negative as well reviews on sexual assualt. Use TripAdvisor with caution. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.
No matter how well we decorate our suitcase, sometimes the unthinkable happens. Sometimes bags go missing. Make sure all your valuables are in your hand luggage and always pack a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage too, just in case the worst happens and your checked bag is lost/delayed. That way you won’t have to rush to the shops as soon as you arrive to buy replacement clothing. But before you go shoving everything in your hand luggage, you might be surprised by some of these unusual items not allowed in your cabin bag.
Money 5. Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 20 cents could be a bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. 6. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. 7. Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centres in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact. 8. Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. This is especially important if you're catching trains or buses. 9. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud maybe occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Toronto, and they will turn off your card as a security measure. 10. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travellers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. Local Research 11. Buy tickets now for attractions you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you. 12. Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases and provide enough detail on key sites that you won’t need to purchase guides at the venue. Download guidebooks and apps before you travel to avoid data charges on your trip. 13. Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing out on fun experiences and that you won't be surprised by crowds or closures. Also, be sure to research a few national dishes. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing its specialties! Electronics 14. Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage, so if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. 15. Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country. 16. Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge we doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t. 17. Download the Travelzoo app. The Travelzoo app can help you find great deals in a variety of countries, and has options from local deals to transportation options. Luggage & packing 18. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travellers decked out in "J’adore Paris" apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. 19. To check a bag or not to check a bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up your airline’s rules to avoid any incremental fees. If you're travelling with a companion, consider checking one bag between the two of you. 20. Bring snacks. Travelling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
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!)
Thanks for the welcome. Very happy to be here and glad our tips helped. Enjoying the Chase card and we just got the American Express Hilton Honors card that comes with 50K HH points upon sign up. Yes Hotels.com has a good rewards program, and nice to hear Raleigh has good fares to Europe as that’s a destination we are looking to explore over the coming years. Enjoy your travels.
All great tips! I’ve learned many of these the hard way. I’d also include carrying some stomach meds in that first aid kit, just in case. They’re usually easy to find in big cities but might be tougher if you’re in more rural areas or traveling on a day stores are closed. Plus that way you might not have to be as paranoid about eating the delicious street food!
There’s a good chance you won’t get “walked” yourself (hotels don’t want to offend a guest whose company regularly sends business their way), but here are a few tips to avoid the situation anyhow: First, if your itinerary allows, stay at the hotel for more than one night since those who will be there for less than 24 hours are more likely to be turned away.
No, it is not a good idea. Liberals have been giving these people the idea they are special and privileged above the rest of Canadians simply because their ancestors lived here before Europeans arrived. This is creating animosity and division like we have never seen before. All Canadians should be officially simply Canadians. Leave our historic traditions and symbols alone and stop trying to tear down our statues of our first PM, John A MacDonald.
Many state and national parks permit camping, although some popular locations such as Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon tend to fill up months in advance, so reserve as early as possible. Federal lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife, also have thousands of campsites, which are often uncrowded, even during the summer months. There are also many outstanding private campgrounds statewide.
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.
To each their own! I would rather have photos that differ to the million identical photos that other people have taken of a place. It’s a souvenir; it’s something to send my family and friends, so they can see I’m safe and happy (my mum definitely wishes I’d take my photos of myself to send her when she misses me!); it’s something I can one day show my grandkids, so I can teach them the importance of travel and show them what I spent my twenties doing.
You don’t want to offend anyone while you travel, so make sure you’re aware of any offensive gestures or behaviour before you arrive. As an example, in Thailand, women shouldn’t touch monks or hand them anything, you shouldn’t touch the local’s heads, say anything bad about the royal family, use your right hand for passing people things and paying, or point your feet at someone… Do your research!
For example, when I went to Cuba, I collected several bags of computer cables, electronics, and other household and personal items to donate through a local casa particular run by a family. When I went to Myanmar, I linked up with a group of punk rockers who volunteered to feed the homeless and provide school supplies to rural areas. My friends and I brought supplies and supported their compassionate work, and I wrote multiple articles about them.
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your plans will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your plans so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.