Get on Board With These Smart Travel Hacks for Smart Travelers
Traveling on holiday or for a business trip can be very exciting, but also very stressful and expensive. For this coming Memorial Day weekend alone, TravelMarketReport reported that 41.5 million Americans will be traveling.
When and how do I find these travel hacks for finding the cheapest tickets? How do I make the most of my money while I am away? And, how do I avoid those sky-high charges and queues? All these questions and many more could be why only around 3.5% of US citizens go abroad on their holidays?
In this post, I will provide you with some of our favorite smart travel hacks to help you save both time and money when you travel. Regardless of whether you travel in the US or beyond.
1. Go incognito
Have you ever been on a website checking flight or hotel prices, gone elsewhere to compare, only to come back to the original site and find the price has increased?
I know I am not the only one.
This is caused by something called “dynamic pricing”. This is software that tracks users and their interest in certain products. Therefore if many people search for a certain product its price will increase, the same thing will also happen if you check the price on the site more than once.
So how do you counteract this? The first thing you can do is clear your cookies. These cookies are little bits of data that companies store on your computer about your shopping habits with them. By clearing these when you go to a site, it does not have any record of a previous visit from you.
Another solution is to use the private browsing/incognito mode in your browser. This prevents any browsing history or cookies from being stored on your computer.
2. Travel insurance
Two years ago one of my friends was hit by a car while traveling abroad. After a week in the hospital and a big operation to pin their leg back together, they were allowed to go home. Due to the problems with their leg the insurance company provided them with a first class flight ticket home, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
My friend soon discovered that the insurance company had paid medical bills totaling over $70,000. I remember them telling me afterward that even if they never claim anything from insurance again in the future, it will always be worth making the payments.
When searching for travel insurance online be sure to not just compare the prices, but also the cover they provide. Choose the insurance that best suits your specific needs and price range. Always get the best cover you can afford.
Last February, I had to cancel a trip to Asia because of emergency surgery. I rescheduled my trip for this coming October, but the Airline company charges me rescheduling fee of $201. Fortunately enough for me, my ticket was really cheap, so I decided to purchased a $39 travel insurance protection. After submitting the necessary documents, the insurance company reimbursed me for the $201 fee after 30 days.
3. Pay with your credit or debit card abroad
Most of us still exchange large amounts of cash before we go abroad, but in doing so, we are losing a lot of money. For example; you spent $1000 to purchase 735 Euros in cash at a currency exchange retailer. However, the exchange rate for the same amount of money at that time was 810 Euros (based on actual prices from 15/03/2018).
This difference is because currency exchange companies add their fees on top of the ordinary exchange rate, it’s how they earn a living.
On the contrary, most bank and credit card providers charge a fee of around 3% on top of the exchange rate. This makes using your bank debit or credit card much cheaper than exchanging cold hard cash.
Many banks and credit card providers also offer special accounts and cards that can even eliminate these charges completely. Using such a card, you will be able to pay with your credit card anywhere in the world without charges. You may end up saving hundreds of dollars each year and the only cost to you was finding this bank account or credit card. Here’s an article I wrote on the best airline credit cards to use when traveling.
4. Pack smart
I am sure we all know the problem, we go to zip up our case happily in the knowledge we have got all the most important things in, only to find it doesn’t zip up! We will try to sit on it to force it to close or agonize over which things we could take out. However, there is one simple trick you can do. Roll your clothes! Not only will this save you space, but they will be less wrinkled too.
Another great space and money saving tip is to buy a foldable water bottle. This can save you buying expensive bottled water at the airport or your destination while taking up almost no room in your bag.
The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page
– Saint Augustine
5. Download offline modes for your favorite Apps
We all want to use those apps that will help us on our travels, but we don’t want to be hit by a high phone bill when we get home as a result of roaming charges. That is why the good people at Google have given us the option to download both Google Maps and Translate for use when offline.
Other apps that use GPS and web connections for their use will likely have offline modes too. In doing so, you can enjoy your trip to the fullest without worry.
6. Check-in online
The day of your flight can be a very stressful one. Have you packed everything? Do you have your passport and ticket? Is the alarm clock set? By checking in to your flight beforehand, you can save yourself a lot of time and worry.
When checking in online, most airlines will then send you a QR code. This becomes your ticket and is scanned at the airport.
If you are traveling with just hand luggage, this makes life very easy. All you have to do is go through the security checks and board your flight. You don’t have to be at the airport hours before your flight anymore. Most airlines now offer a designated bag drop-off counter for those who have checked in online, which is much quicker.
7. Booking your trip
Some companies have done studies into when the best time to book a flight is. Skyscanner found that booking short haul flights seven weeks before and long-haul flights 18 weeks before offered the lowest prices. However, when it comes to booking a package holiday, it may well be best to leave booking till to the last minute.
What probably makes the most significant difference when finding affordable vacations though is in your flexibility. Traveling during the off-season will always generate the lowest prices. However, Kayak found that changing your date of departure by just a 2 or 3 days could save you hundreds of dollars.
For example, taking a trip Wednesday to Wednesday will be much cheaper on average than Saturday to Saturday because people prefer to travel at the weekend.
I have given you some great tips to save both time and money while traveling. However, the most important piece of advice I could give you is to make copies of your important travel documents (including your passport) and store them online. So that in a worst case scenario where all your things are taken, a terrible situation becomes much easier to resolve.