Part 1 of 3
Most people aren’t born savvy travellers. It’s something that only comes with experience. In the beginning, you make a lot of travel mistakes. Travel savviness is a process born of missed buses, foolish behaviour, cultural unawareness, and countless tiny errors. Then, one day, you begin to seamlessly move through airports and integrate yourself into new cultures like a fish to water.
I want to help speed up the process and help you avoid my mistakes so I put together this giant list of my best travel tips that covers everything under the sun to help you reach your full travel potential. These tips for travelling will have you save money, sleep better, get off the beaten path more, meet locals, and just be a better traveller.
1. Compare, compare, compare!
I usually start with Skyscanner because I love the fact that you can see the cheapest days each month to fly. Once I have a flight in mind, I compare the price with other search engines like Google Flights and Momondo.
Once you’ve found your lowest price between these search engines, it’s a good idea to check the airline’s direct website, just to compare. If the price is the same, book directly from the airline’s website to avoid any outside booking fees.
2. Don’t wait until the last minute
There is almost no benefit in waiting until the last minute to book your flight. Book at least a month in advance. Don’t rely on a good last minute deal, because you’ll rarely find one. In my case, I usually book my flights (and accommodation) some three to six months in advance.
3. Be flexible with your travel dates and destination
This isn’t always an option if you have set holidays or a destination in mind. But if you can be flexible on your dates or where in the world you are travelling, you are going to find much, much better deals!
4. Fly with hand luggage only
Try to travel just with hand luggage to avoid the check-in and baggage claim queues. In fact, this would also avoid the risk of having your luggage go missing or having been put on a wrong flight. ‘Keep it light’ is the mantra to travel faster and save time. Unless you are travelling to a remote location, you can always get the necessary stuff in your destination city if necessary.
5. Carry an extra bag with you
If you end up with no room in your luggage and a tonne of new travel finds, having an extra super-compact bag with you will indeed come in handy. Instead of having to struggle to shove everything in your existing bag or having to buy a new one, just toss your excess items in your other bag and voila! No crushed items, no extra costs from buying a new bag. Of course, don’t forget to pay in advance for that extra bag on the airline’s website for your return flight, especially if it’s a low-cost one!
6. Do online check-in
On travel days there can be unexpected delays due to uncontrollable factors that seem to play their best on those days. From alarms that did not ring, unnecessary traffic jams or serpentine queues at the baggage counter, the reason could be anything. So take up the advantage of online check-in. This simple step can save you a lot of time and effort at the airport, especially if you’re not carrying checked-in baggage.
7. Never pay for water at the airport
It sucks that you can’t bring your own bottled water into the airport due to travel regulations and liquid restrictions. Instead of wasting your money on water, take an empty water bottle to the airport and refill it after you’ve passed through security.
Bringing a reusable water bottle can also help you save money as you won’t need to buy bottled water when travelling. Just fill your reusable water bottle from your hotel room. And the environment will also thank you for it.
8. Be prepared for paperwork, bring pens
Stick pens in all of your bags, there will always be a need for them, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic! That pen will come in handy when you need to fill in those location finder forms and may save you time queuing for one within the airport.
9. Print everything out
A lost ID or passport is at the top of everyone’s fear list. Simply take a clear, quality photo of important documents with your mobile phone and email them to yourself. And print a copy too. Even if you lose the documents, you’ll be able to supply ID and passport numbers, check into your hotel and continue with your holiday.
Printing out copies of your itinerary, hotel reservations, plane tickets, passport, etc. might sound like a pain, but you’ll be thankful if anything goes wrong while travelling. Even if you booked online, having hard copies to show to the agent at the desk ensures you’ll have minimal problems.
Remember, not every country is as tech savvy as your home country. Definitely, better safe than sorry! Take it from someone who’s been through it, hunting for copy/print shops after business hours is no fun and just a complete waste of precious travel time.
10. Do this before you land
Don’t get caught searching through a busy, crowded airport for the toilets. Chances are, there’s going to be a queue when you get there. Use the toilet on the plane before you land and be ready to go grab your bags as soon as you get out if you have any checked-in luggage.
Alternatively, once you hop off the plane, go straight for immigration, even if you need to pee. Go to the bathroom after you get through immigration/customs so you don’t have to deal with being in the back of that long line for passport checks.
11. Weigh it
Weight your bag before you go to the airport to make sure you are within the limit. I normally take a small spring balance luggage scales when I travel with checked-in baggage so that I am able to weigh it and make sure I’m not overweight, especially on my return flight. The last thing you need is to have to pay a hefty charge for a bit of extra weight!
It’s also a good saving tip to carry dehydrated food or snacks from home instead of eating out. Dehydrated food barely weighs anything and is convenient because all it requires is for you to pour hot water on top. It’s also a good idea to take a small stock of snacks like cereal bars or nuts with you from home.