I’ve been travelling for the past decade and have a tonne of travel knowledge knocking about in my brain. For the past month or so I’ve been sharing a “Daily Travel Tip” on my Facebook page. It’s my way of sharing all the tricks I’ve learnt to travel smart, save money and make my trips as awesome as possible.
If you’ve missed any of these travel tips over the last few weeks, I’ve combined them all to share in one easy place… right here in this post! So read on, fellow travellers, and let me help you make the most of your travels with my 40 best travel tips.
General Travel Tips
1. Want to meet up with fellow travellers on the road? Do a #hashtag search on Twitter and see who’s in your current destination.
2. Get a Skype number. Technophobic family and friends who don’t use Skype online can use to get in touch with you simply by calling a local number. You can pick up the call on a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
3. Commit your family’s passport numbers (and expiry dates) to memory. It makes filling out immigration arrival cards so much easier. No more fossicking through cabin bags right before the flight lands!
4. Fresh air and sunshine are the best cures for jet lag… not sleep! Avoid the temptation to nap after a long flight. Find a park, take a walk and try your best to stick to local time.
5. Street food is a delicious little window into a culture so don’t be scared to try it. Look for busy vendors with a high turnover so food isn’t sitting around. Choose stalls doing a single dish, generally they make one thing REALLY well. Observe how clean bowls/utensils are and where they are washed. Look at how clean the vendor her/himself is – clean fingers, clothes etc are a good sign of general hygiene.
6. Don’t listen to people who tell you not to go somewhere or not to do something. Sometimes personal perspective and expectations can play a big part in why people don’t like a certain city, country or activity. Collect information from other sources but decide for yourself.
Money Saving Travel Tips
7. Sundays are usually the cheapest nights to stay in hotels. Weekenders usually check out on a Sunday morning and business travellers don’t check in until Monday. Staying a Sunday night can dramatically change the cost of a hotel booking.
8. When taking a road trip, try booking your rental car from an overseas website. Booking from within the US can work out more than twice as expensive as booking from outside the US. Check the .co.uk, the .com.au and the .co.nz versions of car rental sites. Doing this saved us $800 on a recent trip.
9. Spending a foreign currency can feel a bit like spending Monopoly money so tracking your daily expenses is a good idea. I use a pen and a little notebook but there are also apps like Trail Wallet.
10. When buying hotel deals through sites like Groupon, always check what additional charges get tacked on. Resort fees and parking can make these seemingly cheap stays more expensive than they appear.
Bonus tip: Another way to save money on travel is by using travel reward cards. Check out how Debra from Traveling Well For Less travels for free.
Travel Planning Tips
11. If you want to know what a destination is like in a certain season, do an advanced search on Flickr for photos taken in that month. See comments for an example.
12. If you’re planning a trip to a country you’ve never been to before and you want to map out a sample route, take a look at the tour itineraries on sites like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures. I find they do a good job of hitting the highlights plus one or two more interesting places. Figure on independent trips taking about a third longer than an organised tour.
13. Use social media for personal recommendations. Poll your friends via Facebook or Twitter for the best restaurants in town, the cheapest hotel or the most interesting things to do. If you only have a friend or two in your destination city, ask them to post it on your behalf. First-hand knowledge is the best!
14. Find out when school holidays are in a country before planning your visit. Flights at the beginning and end of school holidays are way more expensive, accommodation is more heavily booked and attractions more crowded.
15. Planning your summer holiday? Think about going somewhere where summer is the off-season. Ski resorts like Whistler in BC and Vail in Colorado have a tonne of summer time activities for outdoorsy people – mountain biking, hiking, swimming. These winter resort towns are well set-up for visitors and there are plenty of vacation homes to use.
16. Consider travel by rail. By the time you schlep out to the airport, wait to check in, go through security etc a flight can actually end up taking longer than a train ride. Especially true in Europe.
Tips for Booking Flights
17. Want to know which airlines fly a specific route? Search “flights City A to City B” into Google and the first entry will give the detailed flight schedule between the two cities including the flight times, duration of the flight, the airline and what day of the week the flights run. Searching within a booking engine like Kayak or Skyscanner won’t necessarily show up every airline that flies each route. Read more on how to use Google Flights here.
18. Conventional RTW tickets (on an airline alliance) might seem like a good idea in theory but in reality it’s almost always cheaper to build your own custom RTW tickets with one way flights. Doing it yourself gives your greater flexibility, freedom to change your travel plans as you go and the ability to see the exact destination you want or try something out of the box.
19. Need some travel inspiration? Use the Everywhere search function on Skyscanner.com. From your home airport (or wherever) you can search for the cheapest flights to any country or city. Great if you’re not sure where you want to go, you just know you want travel.
20. Low cost (budget) airlines don’t always show up on flight booking websites. Luckily, Wikipedia has a list of low cost airlines broken down by continent then country. Make sure you check it for the countries you’re visiting before booking flights.
21. When booking budget airline flights with infants, check if the cost of booking them as an adult with a seat is cheaper than booking them as lap infants. This has been the case with sale fares on Air Asia.
22. Want to know what budget airlines fly long haul routes? Check out this great map for ideas. (Click on the green lines to see the airline flying that route.)
23. Before you select your seat on a flight, look up the aircraft seating chart on Seatguru.com. Seatguru will show you the best and worst seats on the plane plus tell you the pitch of the seats and whether there are powerpoints, personal TV screens at that seat. For families, they also show whether bassinets for infants and babychanging facilities are available.
24. Set up a fare alert for any flights you plan on taking. You can set up fare alerts on sites like Google Flights, Kayak and Expedia and they’ll send you an email when the fare you’re after drops below a certain dollar value.
Travel Tips for the Airport
25. Don’t change money at Travelex booths in airports before your trip. It may be tempting to change money before you depart but the exchange rates and fees aren’t good. Wait until you arrive at your destination and use an ATM or change a small amount of money at the airport and the rest at a bank in the city.
26. Did you know you can purchase passes to most business class lounges in airports? Just present your boarding pass and pay the fee, usually about $50, and you have access to food, drinks, wifi, TV, kids rooms… even showers and toiletries. If you’ve got a long layover or a late flight it can be worth the money.
27. Parents rooms in airports usually have a microwave for heating up bottles. Use it to your advantage on long layovers for heating food. Carry a few sachets of instant oatmeal for emergency airport meals. (You can borrow a paper cup from a cafe to make it.) Much better than Burger King at 5am!
Family Travel Tips
28. Snap a picture of your child on your phone/camera before a busy day out e.g. at a theme park. If they get lost you have a picture in the exact outfit they were wearing and can describe it accurately to people/security/police.
29. Instead of buying new toys, books or games to occupy your kids on the plane, hide a few favourite ones a week or two before the flight. They’ll be pleased to see them, you know they’ll enjoy them and you get to save a little money.
30. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! If you’re travelling with small kids and need a little extra room on the plane to spread out, ask at check-in if the flight is full and ask the check-in agent to keep a few extra seats free around you. As soon as you board the plane, tell the flight attendants the same thing and they’ll do their best to help you out. They actually do want your kids to be comfortable and happy on the plane.
31. Choose a middle or window seat for your child when on a plane. In the event of severe turbulence, falling cabin baggage could seriously injure your child if they’re seated in an aisle seat.
Travel Health & Safety Tips
32. Put a baby picture in your wallet… even if you don’t have a baby! Lost/stolen wallets with baby pictures in them are much more likely to be returned to their owners than those without.
33. Always keep a few hundred dollars of emergency stashed in your luggage. We hide ours in the lining of our suitcase but a baby bag or dirty laundry bag also works.
34. Keep a card with your ICE (in case of emergency) contact’s details in your wallet at all times. If you get into an accident it’s important that authorities can contact someone at home. Do the same with cell phone. Add the term ICE to your emergency contact’s details on your phone.
35. Safety regulations in developing countries are not the same as they are at home so research/buy before you leave home any safety items to bring abroad… especially if you’re travelling with kids. You may not be able to buy or rent what you need once you’re there – car seats, child sized helmets or life jackets. For example, we knew we’d be taking a lot of small boat rides in Thailand and Malaysia so bought a toddler-sized life jacket along for Reuben. They weren’t available for rent or purchase any of the places we went but we were very glad we brought our own. You can buy kids lifejackets like this online.
36. If you come down with a case of “Delhi Belly” on the road, don’t back yourself up with Imodium unless you absolutely have to. If you’ve got a 6 hour bus ride ahead of you go for the Imodium – otherwise, as unpleasant as diarrhea may be, it’s best to let the bugs out of your system.
37. Rolling, instead of folding, your clothes makes them easier to pack. It saves space and the clothes crease less.
38. Packing cubes are your best friend. These are our favourite ones. It’s a lot easier to find items in your bag when everything isn’t jumbled together. If you’re travelling solo, use them to separate underwear and outerwear. If you’re travelling as a couple or family, each person gets their own space. Use another small one to bundle up all your electronics. You can buy packing cubes online here.
39. Tip your vitamins into small Ziploc bags. They’ll pack flat and no risk of smashing the glass bottle.
40. When packing, don’t throw things in for “just in case” situations. An extra jacket, umbrella or spare pair of flip flops will take up valuable space and can be easily purchased on the road. Having a jacket from Melbourne, an umbrella from London or a pair of flip flops from Thailand make for great souvenirs.
Want more travel tips?
Another 40 Tips for Smarter, Better, Cheaper, Awesomer Travel
40 Tips for Travelling in Europe with Your Kids
10 Tech Tips for Travelling in Europe
60+ Ways You Can Pay for Travel with Paypal
How to Book Cheap Five-Star Hotels in Las Vegas with This Amazing Priceline Hack
Bidding for Business Class – How to Get an Upgrade
The $20 Trick: How to Score Amazing Hotel Upgrades in Las Vegas
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WOAH! That’s a crapload of great information and knowledge! Awesome!
Great Suggestions. I especially liked the idea about memorizing passport numbers. I have been there too many times frantically filling out visa forms before landing. I stopped mid-read to put the passport numbers/expiration dates on my phone notes. While not as good as memorizing, at least it will be a little easier than the passport shuffle.
I have tried memorising mine but have had no success I have it written on a card that is easily accessed on the flight, I also have a scan saved in my hotmail address along with insurance and other important documents in case they are lost.
Thanks for the tips some I hadn’t thought of 🙂
Good one Michele. You could always snap a picture of your card on your phone if you can’t remember the numbers.
I find that SO helpful! Especially when travelling with kids and all the extra bits and pieces you need for them on a flight.
Number 6 is so true. I often meet backpackers who tell me not to bother with certain places, yet when I go I usually like them. You are right, everybody has got different preferences, so I now always do what I want.
Oh and I love your tip 32. How funny, I never knew. Will def. try that out. 🙂
Definitely make your own decisions when it comes to travel. I can’t stress that enough!
And #32 is a real winner, isn’t it?
Awesome information!! My boyfriend has a picture of a baby in his wallet….just not OUR baby!
Awesome tips! Ive always been a roller instead of a folder, it really does save space!
Totally Nicole! Plus leaves the clothes less creased.
Such awesome tips, Bethaney! Now, I have not yet found myself a baby photo for my wallet…. because that’s exactly the kind of thing I lose.
Thanks Kate! You can always use one of my Reuben. 😉
No. 40. Oops, I forgot that one! I just arrived in Hawaii with a sweat shirt and a fleece, just in case it gets a little nippy in NY in Oct-Nov!! It annoys me seeing it fill up a fifth of my suitcase.
It’s so tempting to over pack. I’m packing at the moment and have culled my “to take” pile three times now.
Fabulous advice! Thanks for compiling this!
GREAT tips! Will use this as a resource, for sure. thanks!
Thanks Jessie. Glad to be of service. 🙂
Now this is one heck of a list. You have covered almost all points to be taken into consideration when traveling especially abroad. A great post indeed.
Great advice all neatly bundled into one post! I think my favorite is ‘Street food is a delicious little window into a culture so don’t be scared to try it’ so true! Eating local is such an immersive experience and you never know what you might find. In almost every country we’ve been to it’s the street food that has provided our most memorable meal.
I agree Charli! How about in NZ though? I find the best food here at Farmers’ Market stands.
Great tips…got a laugh out of the Monopoly money:)
It really does feels like monopoly money when you’re dealing in the millions!
Terrific list, Bethaney!
Another trick I have for finding which budget airlines fly into a given airport is to check the airport’s website. They will list every airline that services that destination, often with daily schedules. Then I can check a specific airline’s website to see if those flights will work for me.
That’s an excellent tip Larissa!!!
This is such a perfect list, Beth!
After close to a year of travel we’ve got plenty of these covered (minus the kids stuff :P) and feel pretty keyed up – how wrong was I? There’s a couple of gems in here which make SO MUCH SENSE.
The one in particular that I’m thinking of is the tour guide company checks, especially as I just check one for the south of Italy (where I am now) which had only two stops and cost €800! We can do those two and fill in the blanks with some local off-the-beaten path towns for … I can’t even figure out a price, but it’d be T I N Y.
Thanks Dale! Things like that are exactly why people think travel is expensive when in reality it doesn’t have to be. You just need to know how!
I found your travel tips very helpful! I have also found that rolling clothes saves space and wrinkles. But I have not thought about picking up a jacket or umbrella on the way as souvenirs. What a great way to save vital space and still use ‘just in case’ items. Thank you for all the helpful tips and good luck on your future travels!
Thanks Lauren. I really think rolling saves a lot of space. Some don’t. But from first-hand experience, rolling clothes got me and 90kgs of luggage home from LA!!!
Love the tips — but really like the one about slipping the baby picture in the wallet to raise the chances of its return if lost.
Yup. That’s totally true! If you’d like to read the study to back it up here’s the link. It’s really interesting!
I’ve book marked this page. I know a lot of it, but a reminder is always good! Great job!
Thanks Penny. I know all these little bits of information but putting it all together is the hard bit, huh?
#28 is so smart-I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it before!
Thanks Michelle… that’s a pretty important one.
Really great list!! Very good reminders…I totally agree about street food!
Thanks Val. I get disappointed when I get to a destination that doesn’t have street food.
What a fantastic list – many thanks
always up for new traveling tips and anything to be AWESOMER!! 😉
Good tips on checking overseas booking sites – I always do that. Not always get me cheaper deals, but sometimes they do.
I think with rental cars that ones always a winner.
What a super comprehensive list. Thank you for sharing these great tips. I have personally saved a lot of money travelling out of school holiday periods.
Aren’t school holidays a rip-off??
Very useful list, Bethany.
Regarding # 34, I always keep a list of emergency numbers in a draft email. When things get messed up, cyber space is a more organized place to have important information.
Good idea Jenny!
The best tip is: don’t listen to what other people say not to do. If you really want to do it, go for it! Just be careful while you’re there. Some of my greatest experiences traveling were things that people recommended against, like paragliding in Lima or seeing Arenal volcano in Costa Rica.
Great list! I like the tip about not sleeping after jet lag and keeping extra cash in your luggage somewhere 🙂
Great list! Most of these I use already, the rest I should really start using!
So many great tips! I looked up our seats for our next flight and was happy to see they are really great ones! A little special section that’s like first class, but economy. You made my day!
These are some awesome tips! I’ve recently gotten into using the Skype Mobile number more now as my Mom is a huge technophobe when it comes down to trying to place a video call. Also, Viber just came out with an option to make phone calls to landlines. I’m not sure if it’s a cheaper option yet but definitely worth checking out if you’ll need the service. 😉
This is an amazing list! I certainly agree with all of them. After so long on the road, I don’t know why we haven’t invested in a skype number or packing cubes yet. Definitely happening when we’re home over the holidays. I’ll definitely have to share this list!
Love all of these tips! Will be super useful for me as I start my trip so soon. I am glad I decided against the RTW ticket….might be stressful not knowing where I am going, but love the idea of flexibility!
So true re monopoly money. I remember when we first visited Laos in ’98 5000 kip was the largest note (about 50 cents). We had only changed a couple of hundred dollars but the money changer had to put our Kip in a plastic shopping bag for us there was so much of it!
Yes!! You end up with a brick of money and no idea what any of it’s worth!!!
Great suggestions here. I have never thought of using Intrepid for ideas for trip itineraries. And I love the idea of tipping vitamins into ziplocs…I didn’t even know you could do that. I always thought they had to be labeled as to what they were!
I’ve never been asked once by Customs to explain what any of my random, Ziploc vitamins are!
Great tips, Bethaney. We knew there was a use for Wikipedia. And you’ve nailed it with that low-cost airline recommendation.
I love reading travel tips and particularly like how you’ve split them into different sections, makes it much easier to read. Number 33, always keep a stash of cash somewhere for emergencies is something i swear by… also i definitely agree with number 6, you should always experience something for yourself before making a decision! Ps. Love the clean design of the site too!
Thanks Adam! Are you a fellow Kiwi traveller?
No worries Bethaney. Yep, I like to class myself as a kiwi! I moved from the UK to NZ about 8 years ago and based in Wellington. As bit of a pro, if you’ve got any tips, feedback etc on my site I’d love your feedback.
Will check it out now. 🙂
I second the skype number, if it wasn’t for that I am not sure I would ever get my family to log on to skype with me, it’s also nice to be able to call cell phones back home. Its also useful when taking care of business while traveling, like bills and other stuff like that.
As for #36 we travel with Ciprofloxacin for problems of ‘that nature’ its a specific antibiotic geared toward stomach bugs, it will cure you, but its not for the immediate relief.
Your advice are very usefull!!
The best tip is “Get a Skype number” is a simple advice but very usefull when you are in a foreign country
Packing cubes are wonderful. I recently showed mine to some people in the group I traveled with, and they laughed at me. Said they didn’t have time for such nonsense. Their loss. Travel cubes make everything better. I highly recommend them.
we had nine months traveling and packing cubes also meant we could pack and unpack super quickly- everything always went into the same combination of cubes and ziplock bags.
Thanks for the greasy tips.. I have travelled a lot and genally don’t get much from other people’s tip sheets but this was NOT the case with yours. Thanks so much!
Thanks for your tips guys. I will give them a try for sure!
The tip about eating street food is gold!
On a trip to Indonesia I was the only one in our group who ate the delicious fresh food from the street vendors – what the others laughingly referred to as the “Cholera Trolleys”.
They weren’t laughing when I was the only one in our group who didn’t come down with terrible gastro!
Love these tips, always love reading other travellers tips. The only two tips that I would include myself for people who haven’t travelled much and are going to certain places make sure you go to the doctor before hand to make sure you have the right vaccinations and educated on any health warning or visit health websites (I travel around Asia alot so this is vital) and also to make a copy of any important documents like passport etc and keep to an external source.
I loved the tip on having your own personal experiences, and not solely relying on other peoples opinion!!
“Lost/stolen wallets with baby pictures in them are much more likely to be returned to their owners than those without” Great advice! Who knew 🙂
This is super helpful! Thanks for all the research and dispensing what you’ve learned from your travels =)
These tips are all fantastic, thanks for sharing! May have to employ the baby photo trick in the future!
WOAH! That’s a crapload of great information and knowledge! Awesome!