Most experienced adventurers agree on one simple rule of thumb: although travel is subjective, there are right and wrong ways to plan your journey. Booking your flight days before departing, overpacking, and not knowing your international bank charges are guaranteed ways to dampen your vacation. Fear not, here's a list of hacks that will bump your traveler status from 'beginner' to 'expert'.
Booking Your Trip
First things first, buying your plane ticket is likely to be the biggest influence on where you go, when you go, or if you go at all. For that reason, most travel hacks lie within the realm of airline workarounds. Knowing prices are lowest on Tuesday is a start, but don't only just wake up Tuesday morning trigger-happy for your next getaway.
Avoid dynamic pricing
Have you ever noticed that after searching for flights, the price jumps up by $50 or $100? Many travel websites track your activity and raise prices according to “increased demand.” In order to avoid this, clear your cookies and search history, or use an incognito window (available in your browser’s preferences).
Choose your site wisely
It’s definitely best to shop around, but most adventure travelers have reached a consensus that Skyscanner, Vayama, Momondo, and Cheapoair are the most affordable options for booking a flight.
Set up travel alerts
Many people are strong advocates that there's no “right” time to buy a flight. Not six months out, not four months out, not even on a Tuesday. If that's the case, the best move is to set up price alerts and let the deals come to you. Sites like Airfarewatchdog and Scott’s Cheap Flights specialize in capitalizing on airline mistakes. Apps like Hopper also offer a platform to share alerts when the best deals are available.
Be Smart with Your Money
In order to stretch your dollar and make sure your adventure lasts, there are a couple things you can do to avoid financial obstacles. Advance note: don’t be fooled by how low the fees are. Although they may seem small (especially when dealing in foreign currencies), remembering that things add up quickly is crucial to economic travel.
Always pay in local currency
If you’re ever asked whether you want to pay in the local currency or your home currency, opt for local. Many cards charge anywhere from 2%-7% for the alternative service.
Convert cash wisely
Airport currency exchanges usually have the worst rates. If possible, head into town and opt for an exchange service off the beaten path. These days many banks offer no ATM fees to withdraw money -- aim to get an international-friendly bank account before you jet off.
Booking Your Stay
Quickly emerging as the industry’s leading one-stop shop for finding a place to stay, AllTheRooms quite literally has all the rooms on the planet. Browse properties from sites like Airbnb, Hostelworld, Hotels.com, Couchsurfing, Expedia, and many more. Having all your selection in one place is a super easy way to book your next night’s stay.
Mindlessly stuffing your life into a 70 litre backpack is never something you thank yourself for later. Luckily, retailers have designed lightweight, collapsible nylon containers that keep your belongings and your sanity in check. The REI packing cubes are especially useful, and if you’re really looking to pack light, roll your clothes rather than fold them so you have extra space to work with.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself before traveling anywhere in the world is “can I drink the water?” Instead of rolling the dice on a city’s water supply system, the Water-to-go bottle gives you a portable filtration device to be used anywhere, anytime.
Scrubba wash bag
Don’t waste your time hauling your dirty clothes to laundromats or paying for hotel washing machine services -- the Scrubba Wash Bag is a lightweight, travel-friendly washing machine tool that fits into any suitcase.
Get travel insurance
If you’re planning on doing anything along the lines of skydiving, whitewater rafting, or other adrenaline-fuelled activities, World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance which can be purchased from home or on the road. Claims can made from anywhere in the world, all online.
Exercise to fight jet lag
Feeling a little groggy after an international flight? Studies have shown the best way to get your rhythm back in order is do some rigorous, sweat-inducing exercise.
Dillon is a travel-hungry outdoor enthusiast originally from Encinitas, California. He recently moved to Medellín to begin his next chapter as a content writer for AllTheRooms. Besides writing, Dillon enjoys live music, football, cooking, and backpacking.