We’ve all been there – the token woes of traveling, from lotions squeezed out inside luggage to surprise costs in airports and hotels. As much fun as it is experiencing a new, far-off destination, the act of getting there always seems to be piqued with aggravation.
As an avid traveler, I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard (and messy) way when it comes to packing and daytime excursions. Here are a few suggestions I’ve picked up along the way, to making life on the road a little easier:
1. Use binder clips.
You probably haven’t seen one lying around since third grade, but binder clips are a blessing from the travel gods. They are perfect for protecting razor heads and also keeping headphones, charger cords and jewelry neat and tangle-free.
2. Pack like a champion.
There is a distinct art to fitting as much as possible into a travel bag: rolling up clothes instead of folding them saves space, as does stuffing socks into shoes. But say you’re still fighting to get the zipper shut (not a light packer, I suppose)? Instead of threatening to rip your luggage, invest in a new set of vacuum-sealed bags.
3. Stock up on dryer sheets.
Throw a couple dryer sheets in the bottom of your luggage to keep things smelling fresh. Afterwards, they can also double as a static remover for hair and clothes.
4. Re-use travel-size containers.
Instead of buying more mini-toothpastes and sunscreens, save the old bottles and just re-fill them. Some people also like to ration their lotions and make-up using straws sealed up . Whatever you decide, try never to travel with a full bottle of anything. I don’t know how many times myself or friends have packed up in a hurry, and been forced to leave expensive conditioners or perfumes at airport security.
5. Charge it!
A lot of people don’t realize that paying with a credit card is the best way to save money when traveling. Credit card companies will automatically calculate the exchange rate for you, and it’s better than the rates that airport currency exchange counters offer. But you will need some cash, since plastic isn’t accepted everywhere: in that case, find an ATM.
6. Get free WiFi at airports.
At long last, there’s a hack for escaping expensive airport WiFi, and the time limits on free connections! In your browser, add “?.jpg” to the end of any URL.
7. Back that up.
Never leave home without scanning ID and leaving a copy on your desktop and email. Also keep a photocopy of your passport tucked into your bag just in case. If you ever lose ID, these will often still allow you to make every check-in. And for your own peace of mind: back up your computer files to an external hard drive or an online cloud regularly. I’ve had many pals lose cameras or get laptops stolen, only to lose precious travel photos.8. Skip hotels, save money.
These days, more and more people are trading in conventional accommodation to using websites like AirBNB and Couchsurfing. With AirBNB, people rent out their rooms and apartments to tourists. Guests not only get a great deal, but a kitchen and more space at their disposal. Couchsurfing may be “roughing it” in comparison, but it’s a good way to make new friends in a strange place.
9. Use Skype instead of phone cards.
Skype has awesome packages for making phone calls to both mobiles and landlines. I pay one flat rate every year for unlimited calls to Canada, and it saves a lot of money for chatting with my family (and if they want to call me, I just let it ring and call them back for free). Since most hotels and restaurants in tourist destinations have free WiFi, it only takes finding a decent connection to get in touch.
10. Look for flights on Sunday and Monday.
Travel experts have long said that the middle of the week (Tuesday and Wednesday) is the best times to look for airfare sales – but research is now stating otherwise! A recent study shows that airlines are five percent more likely to post discounts over the weekend.
So what are you waiting for? Go buy your next plane ticket!