Since I quit my job in 2014, I have travelled to and worked from 19 countries including Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, UAE, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan. I always write down what I learn on-the-go so I don't continue making the same mistakes!
Here are 14 of my favourite travel hacks everyone should know as well as some even frequent flyers won't know. So next time you get thrown around the world in a giant, metal cylinder... You'll be prepared.
1. Use Flight Comparison Sites
2. Book Two One-Way Tickets Instead of a Round-Trip
Sometimes booking two, one-way tickets instead of a round-trip can save you money, especially when booked with different airlines. Flight comparison websites like Skyscanner should already do this for you!
3. Some Airlines Offer Free Stopovers
Yeah, free! Go tick off some cities from your bucket-list.
Japan Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Air China, Thai Airways. From Helsinki, to Bangkok. Check out this useful list from Hopper on ways you can get free International stopovers from a bunch of great airlines.
4. Clear Your Search Cookies and Search History
Some travel websites track your visits and raise prices if you've visited the website before. *Insert profanity here*, these sites.
It's good practice to go 'incognito' when browsing flights or to book your flights from another device and / or Internet connection.
5. Download Your Airlines App for Paperless Boarding
Ryanair's app is a good example of straightforward, paperless boarding. You can check-in using the app, then view your boarding pass or save it directly to your Apple Wallet for offline viewing. Never get caught out without a printer again!
For most airlines, like Ryanair, you will also get helpful flight updates and notifications.
6. Skip the Line at Arrivals by Hailing a Taxi at Departures
The logical thing to do when you are trying to score a taxi is to wait outside arrivals with the other few hundred people who just touched down.
But what if I told you there was an endless stream of empty taxis just around the corner? It's called departures.
7. Book Alternative Places to Stay
I love alternative accommodation like Couchsurfing and AirBnB because it helps me to learn from other cultures and people who welcome me into their homes, showing me the local area from their perspective. It's also a lot cheaper than staying in hotels!
I'm currently writing this blog post from an AirBnB in Bologna, my hosts are locals who don't speak a word of English so I'm forced to make what little conversation I can in Italian. I wouldn't have it any other way.
8. Contact Your Host and Check Whether They Provide Towels
Good hotels, hostels, AirBnB hosts know how frustrating packing a towel can be. That's why most of them offer free towels for you to use during your stay. Double check online or contact your host to find out whether they provide clean towels to save yourself from a packing nightmare.
9. Make Free Calls Abroad by Using Voice Calls on Wi-Fi
FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype. That's only a few tools available today that enable you to communicate vocally with just a Wi-Fi or data connection.
When I'm abroad, I rarely call people locally. If I call clients, I use Skype and FaceTime and if I message my friends, I use a wide range of free messaging apps.
10. Use Google Maps Offline
Did you know your GPS signal still works abroad, (that's the blue dot that moves when you walk) even without a data connection? It's brilliant.
That's not all. You can even download an entire city or area on Google Maps, offline! Gone are the days of hopeless lost travellers without means of a map or data connection.
Just remember to download an offline area when you are connected to Wi-Fi or you'll find a large chunk of your data plan used up.
11. Use Foursquare to Get Wi-Fi Passwords
It's as simple as typing 'Wi-Fi' on Foursquare with your location.
Scour the comments for passwords if you want to be cheeky and steal a connection when you are out and about.
I recently came across this, built by Anil Polat. It’s a map of “Wireless Passwords From Airports And Lounges Around The World”. Pretty cool.
12. Roll Clothes Instead Folding
You will find this advice on most packing lists and travel blogs, but only until you try it will you realise how much space you can save. Roll your clothes and use your Tetris skillz to pack them tightly within your bag or suitcase. Your life will change.
13. Make Friends While Travelling
I spent a year travelling solo before I met my girlfriend. And I realised one important thing; making friends, make the trip. When I look back on my fun experiences abroad, it's always the people I remember the most.
If I struggle to make friends while travelling, I can quickly feel homesick. That's why I think it's important to connect with like-minded travellers on-the-go. My new blog post will help you find them, How to Make Friends While Travelling Solo.
14. Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone
Get out there and experience the world! Try the snails, eat the worms, climb the tallest tower, dance with the eccentric old lady in Spain who's wandering hands make you nervous. Yeah maybe don't do that. But push the boundaries, try something you wouldn't have at home. Please don't find the nearest Irish pub or seek typical Western amenities. You've escaped for a reason, right?!
“The joy of travel is not nearly so much in getting where one wants to go as in the unsought surprises which occur on the journey.” Alan Watts
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