What is travel hacking? I’m glad you asked! The best travel hacks save you money, time, and frustration. They are the tips and tricks you look to before planning your trip. I’ve tried a few so-called hacks that didn’t work out and took advice with results that turned out to be the polar opposite of what they were supposed to be.
The following travel hacks are tried-and-true favorites of mine. They’ve made my travels easier and virtually painless, especially when traveling with kids. What are your favorite travel tips? Do you have a hack that you use frequently? Share your tips in the comments below, as I’m always on the lookout for additional travel tricks.
1. Sign up for, Collect, and Use Travel Rewards
Make sure your credit cards offer travel rewards, or swap your current credit cards with ones that do and start to collection miles on all of your purchases.
All of those points add up fast and you can redeem them for flights throughout the year. I currently have enough points for 3 roundtrip flights in North America and that’s after redeeming for 3 flights this year alone! Not too shabby…
2. Don’t Book Flights on the Weekend
Contrary to popular belief, booking flights on the weekend is not a smart idea. In fact, fares usually go up on Friday and drop by Monday or Tuesday. I’ve studied this very subject every day for the past 6 months to try and figure out when the cheapest day to book a ticket is. Wednesday and Thursday seem to be the cheapest days to score the lowest airfare.
3. Before You Book Your Flight, Clear Your Cache
Have you ever checked rates non-stop and wondered why they seem to be rising by the minute? It could have something to do with your cache and cookies. Clear your history, cookies and cache, then try again. This works more times than not, and I’m still not sure why. Perhaps the airlines track your activity while surfing.
4. Sometimes Booking Direct Is Better
Websites like Expedia and Travelocity are great for helping you plan your vacation, but there are times when flights are cheaper directly through the original source. I priced out a Delta flight through Expedia several months ago and ended up saving $150 by booking directly through Delta.
Make sure you check and double-check all of your other options before hitting the purchase button!
5. Pack Reusable Water Bottles
When we travel as a family, I’m always sure to pack a couple of empty, reusable water bottles. Kids can get thirsty, and sometimes the snack and beverage service isn’t as often as my children would like. When the flight attendants do come around, ask them to fill your bottle up.
6. Scan Your Identification
Scan your passport, driver’s license, and personal identification before leaving on a trip, and email the information to yourself. This way, you’ll always have it on hand — worst case scenario.
7. Pack Smart
Checking your luggage is pricey, which is why more and more travelers are traveling with one carry-on each and forgoing the large case. It is possible to go on a week’s vacation with one carry-on — you just have to be smart with your packing. Roll your clothes to save room, or use packing cubes or Ziploc bags to cut down on space. Stuff your underwear and socks in your shoes to save even more space!
8. Stay Fresh
Before you load up your luggage, put a dryer sheet on the bottom. It will keep your clothes smelling freshly laundered.
9. Use Simple Hacks to Pack Jewelry
If you are planning on packing necklaces, run them through a plastic straw and pack them this way. It will prevent those horrid tangles that are almost impossible to unravel.
Small earrings, lockets, rings and other trinkets can be packed in pill boxes for small and effective storage.
10. Pack a Pen
If you’re flying to a different country, you’ll need to be prepared to fill out declaration and custom forms that must be completed before you land. Make sure you have a pen in your purse before you fly, as the flight attendants don’t always have one for you to borrow.
11. Tea Time!
Speaking of drinks, I like to keep a small sandwich bag in my purse with 4-6 bags of some of my favorite tea blends. There is nothing like drinking your preferred cup of tea on a flight.
12. Stay Organized with Apps
There are hundreds of travel apps on the market. Hundreds. (I personally use TripCase to keep all of my flight details and travel documents organized and in order. The best part? They do it all for me — for free!) So do some research and download the ones that you think would work best for your traveling lifestyle.
13. Rent a House
Hotels can be pricey for weekly stays, which is why I’m so fond of home renting. Airbnb, Global Resort Homes, Homeaway, and VRBO are just four companies that rent out gorgeous homes for less than a hotel stay. Some of these homes have private pools, 8-10 bedrooms and luxurious details you wouldn’t find anywhere else!
14. The Case of the Missing Charger
Call the front desk of your hotel and ask if they have a charger that you can borrow for the length of your stay. I’ve lost a couple of chargers during my travels and, luckily, they’ve always had one ready and available for me to borrow.
15. Get Free Rental Car Insurance
Before you opt for the ridiculously priced car insurance that rental companies offer, call your credit card company and see if car rental insurance is included. In my case, 3 of my credit card companies offer this little perk which has saved me at least $200 in car insurance over the past year.
16. Score the Best Seats on the Plane
Type in your airline, flight number and date of departure to locate your plane information and pick the best seat with SeatGuru‘s seat maps. You’ll find ratings, seat advice, flight information and details on which seats have power jacks, personal televisions and more with this free service. I use it all the time!
17. Prevent Spills
There is nothing worse than opening up your checked baggage to find that your liquids have leaked all over your clothing. It happened to me once and I swore it wouldn’t happen again. Thanks to this tip, it hasn’t! Open the lids of your liquids and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top before putting the cap back on. This will prevent leaks and spills!
18. Pack a Power Strip
It can be hard to locate a power jack in an airport to charge one device, let alone to charge two or three. A small power strip is perfect for travel and works well when you’re trying to charge all of your devices, whether it be at the airport or in your hotel room.
19. Purchase TSA Luggage Locks
When checking your bags, it’s always recommended that you use a lock. If you use a regular lock, you are at risk of having that lock cut off during the security screening process and you won’t be reimbursed. TSA Accepted Locks are your best bet because they can be opened by TSA with a universal key. These TSA Locks from MasterCraft are great because you can set your own personal combination.
20. Stay Safe
The locks used on hotel doors are not the safest and most can be hacked open, which is why a portable door lock is an important thing to bring with you, as it ensures your safety and keeps your door locked from the inside out. Housekeeping and unruly guests won’t be able to enter the room, even with a key.