21 Top Travel Tips.
Over the years we've lived and learned from our own time spent on the road. We've chatted up fellow travel nuts, and we've done plenty of research to find the most clever, creative, and efficient time-saving and stress-reducing top tips every traveler should know -- and we compiled them all into this handy list.
We've included some obvious (yet often-forgotten) tips, as well as some clever beat-the-system top tips, too. From the moment you book a ticket or tour till you're unpacking your souvenirs, these 21 time-saving travel tips will help to streamline your trips, ease some headaches, and make sure you're spending as much time as possible immersed in your journey.
1. Pack Light (and Try Not to Check in a Bag!)
This might honestly be one of the best time saving hints out there -- and for some, one of the hardest to accomplish. But take our word for it; most people overpack. There are tons of guides on how to pack light by either rolling clothes military style, using mix-and-match basics, bringing lightweight fabrics, and paring down on toiletries, so look and learn. If you can avoid checking in a bag, you'll not only be able to bypass all those other guys who have to wait forever for their luggage to deplane, but you'll fly through customs, be able to grab a cab before the line gets out of control, and generally move around more swiftly throughout your entire trip. Plus, thinning out your suitcase pads your budget with the money saved on checked baggage fees.
2. Mark Your Checked Baggage As “Fragile”
If you just can't help yourself and you need to check in a bag, mark it as "Fragile." This should not only ensure that your bag gets handled with care, but also that it's got a prime spot in the cargo and is first off the plane -- meaning, your bag is one of the first bags on the baggage claim belt and you're off and into a cab to your final destination before everyone else.
3. Email a Copy of Your Itinerary and Important ID Documents to Yourself. (& Save on USB)
The last thing you want to happen on a trip is for your documents to get stolen. While your clothes, camera, and money are all high-priority items, the top of the list is your identity. Good luck trying to get much of the other things replaced or recovered without proper ID! So first things first, email yourself a copy of your passport, driver's license, and any documents with reservation numbers on them so at least you know you're covered in a bag snatching scenario. Photocopy both sides of your credit cards, and ensure you have a copy of your insurance details and emergency contact details for all. It will save you a lot of time and massive headaches if you can prove you are who you say you are, and you know when and where you need to be.
4. Notify Your Bank and Credit Card Companies That You'll Be Traveling
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how many people forget to do this. It's usually as easy as filling out a travel form online, or pop into your Bank. Forgetting to do this can cause major problems, along with massive delays in doing (or at least paying for) just about anything. So while we're at it, we suggest you bring a bit of cash with you to at least cover essentials for the first 24 to 48 hours...just in case your banks don't get the memo.
5. Use ATM and Credit Cards Instead of Exchanging Money
This is so much easier, 99 percent of the time your bank will have the best possible exchange rate. So stop wasting time and money locating and exchanging bills at those currency exchanges, or paying in your home currency at those all-too-happy independent vendors. Grab money -- in the local currency -- from ATMs, or pay with a credit card to save time -- and your hard earned cash. But beware: International transaction fees can definitely add up, so it's wise to grab a travel-friendly credit card that doesn't add them. Check with your bank regarding Travel Money Cards and your ATM fees, at home and abroad.
6. Mix Some Quick-Dry Clothes into Your Wardrobe
Quick-dry clothes are the way to go. Why waste money on expensive hotel laundry services or spend time waiting for a shirt to dry when you can just wash whatever you want to wear at the end of the day and rest assured when you wake up it'll be so fresh and so clean and dry! Even if it’s just a few basic items, packing in some quick-dry wardrobe pieces, including underwear, can save you oodles of time, and also suitcase space.
7. Put All of Your Electrical Items in a Toiletry Bag
Don't waste anymore time fishing around your bag for your electronics and chargers. Put them all into a water-resistant, zippered toiletry bag, making them easy to find, easy to decipher, and safe from spills. We've been known to throw our cell phone chargers, iPod chargers, camera batteries, SD cards, and anything else you'd rather not go on a search for or replace if there's a leak (or rainstorm).
8. Add a variety of Plastic Bags into Your Suitcase
Pack a few extra plastic bags in with your stuff. This old trick is super simple and comes in handy often. Don't want to wait for that wet T or pants to dry, or have the time to clean off those sandy sneakers? Throw them in a bag! We also love using plastic bags to cover our cameras and phones when we are caught in an unexpected downpour, and they're great as on-the-go laundry bags so you don't spend time sifting through what's clean and what's...not. A variety of Zip Lock bags are also useful; grab your morning tea snack and fruit from the buffet breakfast to enjoy later.
9. Bring Your Own Eye Mask and Earplugs
Anyone who has ever lost a night (or four) of sleep while traveling can tell you these are they are worth their weight in gold. While some international aerial routes may offer masks and earplugs in complimentary kits, it's nice to rest assured that you have your own. The plane isn't the only place where you stand chance to benefit from a little peace and quiet, they may also be come useful along the way, anywhere -- trains, automobiles, hotels, hostels, ships...even back at home!
10. Pack an Infinity Scarf
The infinity scarf is like the soybean of travel necessities. It should already be on your must-bring list since you can twist it into several different wardrobe items, from scarves, to skirts, to shirts, to dresses, to whatever -- but these wonderful stretches of cloth can be used for so much more. Think pillow, face cover, over-the-shoulder beach bag, dust mask, wrapping breakable items in your suitcase thingy, etc!
11. Set Up Google Maps to Work Offline
Such a time-saver, this one! If you don't have internet while abroad, or you're thinking about getting it just to use for navigation (but don't want to spend the cash) -- fret no more. While you've still got connection, pull up a map of where you'll need to navigate and type "OK maps" into the search box. This saves the screen for offline use. You can also drop pins or mark specific places of interest since you won't be able to search for them offline. For extra security, you can even take several screen shots of specific areas at different zoom lengths. This should save tons of time getting from point A to point Z.
12. Charge Your USB-able Devices through the Hotel Television
Didn't bring an adapter or have more than one thing that needs to charge? No problem -- just head toward your hotel room's television. Most modern televisions have USB input ports in the back so you can just plug in and charge on-the-go devices like cell phones, iPods, iPads, and point-and-shoot cameras.
13. Use a Currency Convertor App on Your Phone
Install a currency convertor app like XE Currency Exchange on your phone. These not only save time from doing mental math (that stuff's just for elementary school), but can end up saving you from getting ripped off (since mental math is just for elementary school and maybe isn't your strong suit). Even if you don't have data on your phone, most apps will work off of the conversion rates from the last sync, so you'll at least be in the right ballpark. Tip: If you are going to bargain for an item, plug in what the most amount of money you're willing to spend on the item is so you have a stronger bargaining stance from the get-go.
14. Download Google Translator App
it’s a must if you are a traveller to places where you don’t either speak your language or you don’t have a guide.
You can just hold up a smartphone to someone speaking in another language, and the app will translate on the fly.
15. Grab a Cab from the Departures Zone – Yes the Departure Zone
Just arrived and noticed the taxi line is staggeringly long? Change your plan of attack, skip the line, and head over to the departures drop-off area and grab a cab from there. Since all cabs will be dropping people off and either heading back to town or down to the dreaded arrivals taxi line, there's no competition -- and if bargaining is the norm, you might be able to negotiate a lower rate. Obviously, this might not work at all airports depending on the terminal set up, but when it does, it feels like a steal!
16. Act Like You Know the Area If You're Worried about Getting Ripped Off
Many times when you pop into a cab from the airport, the driver will ask if you are from the area. Generally, we suggest you say "yes," because this can often be a means of finding out whether or not you'll notice them taking the long way. If it's obvious you aren't from around the area, or if you feel uncomfortable telling a bold-faced lie, say you visit friends frequently or have family that live here. This should avoid any unnecessary side roads that translate into higher fares.
17. Pack a Small First-Aid Kit
Depending where you are traveling, you can save a lot of time and inconvenience by packing a small DIY first-aid kit. At minimum, throw some panadol, cotton swabs, regular Band-Aids, a little tube of anti-bacterial cream, and maybe some chewable stomach antacids for good measure into a ziplock bag of sorts and you should be set. Add suntan lotion and Deet insect / mosquito repellant may also need to added , depending on where your travelling to. These basics can be hard to find (or hard to mime if you don't speak the language), and having a personal stash on hand will make you feel prepared.
18. Compartmentalize Your Suitcase with Clothing Bags
After a few days or hotel changes, chances are it looks like a tornado has hit inside your luggage bag. Solution? Get some small travel bags from places like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and you've got an easy-peasy compartmentalized system inside your suitcase! A container each for toiletries, socks, underwear, bras, shorts and pants, shirts -- you name it, there can be a spot for it. The best are the adjustable ones so you can change the sizes of the bags on the go to suit your needs and allow for a "dirty laundry" compartment.
19. Create an Email Folder for Your Trip
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but again, you'd be surprised how easy it is to overlook. Organizing a trip can be a long process, particularly if you're a down-to-every-last-detail planner. Create a folder or label in your email for your trips and send every confirmation, itinerary, receipt, and document that corresponds to your trip its way. Another way is to take a screenshot of each email on your phone. This way you've got easy access to confirmation numbers, record locators, frequent flyer numbers, names, and addresses -- all in one place so you don't have to spend time searching through your inbox when it's go time. Email it or add it to a USB stick – or both!
20. Learn Some Key Phrases
Nothing speeds things up in a foreign country like speaking the language -- or at least un peu of it. We recommend packing a small phrasebook in your bag so you don't have to memorize a bunch of random phrases, but if you can't find the space, just knowing a few simple phrases from "please" and "thank you," to counting, to "where is..." with a few essentials like "bathroom," "hotel," "restaurant," and/or "hospital" can save time, and is often appreciated.
21. Register with DFAT;
Providing DFAT with your trip itinerary and contact details will help us contact you or your family in the event of an emergency, such as a cyclone etc. NOTE: Registration does not automatically guarantee you consular assistance.
And add smartraveller app to your phone for updates of countries you are visiting.
Glenda Fagan – Boutiquetours.com.au
Katherine Alex Beaven - Oyster.com.au