Travelers Share The Travel Tips And Hacks That Saved Them Big Time

Travelers Share The Travel Tips And Hacks That Saved Them Big Time

Every traveler wants a stress free trip, no matter where in the world they are going. Whether a trip is for business or pleasure, long lines, delayed flights or lost luggage are just a few of the things that can ruin what is meant to be a fantastic getaway. The one thing every experienced traveler will tell you is that sometimes you have to roll with the punches and stay calm. This is great advice, but sometimes a little extra preparation can go a long way in making sure your trip goes exactly as you planned.

These twenty-five travel tips from some of  Reddit’s travel enthusiasts will hopefully make your next trip a (slightly) less bumpy ride.

25. Use A Local Phone Service

Instead of buying an expensive international roaming and data plan from your cell provider, just buy a cheap prepaid rechargeable SIM in whatever country you need service. Having both phone and data makes for a fun traveling experience since you can keep in touch with your people and also post photos, use the GPS, and book Uber/Lyft rides, which are more convenient and usually cheaper than taxis.


24. Maps Matter And Cash Is King

The app is the best thing since sliced bread if you don’t have an internet connection. We use it to avoid taxi “long routing.” You show the driver that you know where you are, know where you want to be, and can track it the entire way. Also has been a lifesaver in really remote places, better than paper maps in some cases. We used it all over the Annapurna Circuit last year.

Also, keep some U.S. cash on you as a backup, regardless of where you are in the world. There will be some time, somewhere, where you’re in a pinch, and I guarantee anyone, anywhere will be willing to accept U.S. currency. I’ve gotten weird looks when I show people our awesome Canadian money, doesn’t quite have the same recognition that a greenback does.


23. Fast Food Bathrooms Are Your Friends

If you’re traveling in China or another country with squat-toilets, Western chains like McDonald’s and Costa will usually have clean western-style toilets (which you wander into for free). Makes looking for toilets a lot simpler when you’re out and about.


22. Allergy Medication Can Help You Sleep

Benadryl. Stockpile it. It’s an allergy medication that makes you sleep with no major other side effects. Take it to sleep on the plane, to make sure you fall asleep at a decent time when you have jet lag, etc.

If you have a food allergy, get an index card and write “I am allergic to ______” in the local language (if you don’t speak it). Show it to restaurant staff.

Lastly, if there’s a holiday coming up, learn how to say happy whatever holiday in the local language. Also learn please, thank you, hello, and goodbye. If you need to find someone who speaks English, look for college students and young professionals or people who work in touristy areas.


21. How To Actually Prevent Jet Lag

My trick for preventing jet lag:

If the flight lands in the morning, sleep the second half of the flight. You might have a tired day, but should have enough energy to get through that first day. Go to bed at a normal time and be refreshed the next morning.

If it lands in the afternoon or evening, sleep the first half of the flight. You’ll be tired and ready for bed at a normal bedtime for a refreshed day in the morning.


20. Be Ready For Security

Be familiar with what you’ll need to unpack during security before you get in line. Be ready to take off your jacket, shoes, belt, metal objects, and have empty pockets. Make sure your laptop is easily accessible, as it will need to go in its own X-ray tray. If you have any fluids in your bag, put them together in an easy-to-access location so the agent doesn’t have to tear your whole bag apart.

Keep a mental note of everything you put through the X-ray, people often leave stuff behind when they get flustered.

There’s nothing more irritating than fumbling around before the X-ray with half your belt off, trying to unpack your laptop from an impossible location while an angry line grows behind you.


19. Use Public Transportation Whenever Possible

Use public transportation, and find out how in advance. This is mainly for Americans who tend to be more car-centric than Asians and Europeans, but its often easier, cheaper and faster than flying or hiring a car.

Many cities have brilliant public transport networks which are cheap, safe, and easy to use. In Central London, you can travel all day on buses, trains, and the underground for £6.60 (about $8).


18. You Don’t Need As Much Clothing As You Think

If it’s not winter where you’re visiting, you don’t need more than a carry-on for trips up to two weeks. Two pairs of pants, three shirts, underwear for five days. Use local laundry services. Unless you have VERY specific travel plans, you’re not going to need casual, slightly-dressy and fully-dressy outfits. You also won’t need three pairs of shoes. Good walking shoes plus maybe one slightly nicer pair. All of this can fit in a standard sized carry-on bag, even one that fits the smaller EU standard.


17. Politeness Pays Off

Be. Polite. To. Airline. Staff.

Almost any travel problem can be solved by a gate agent. Being pushy or mean is not going to inspire them to come up with that solution for you. I see this so often; yelling about how your vacation is going to be ruined is not going to get anything fixed.

Coming prepared with a list of alternate flights you looked up on your phone, however, has a much better chance of success. These poor folks have like 45 seconds to fix your issue. Be proactive. If their system just sees the obvious one stop connections but you find a two stop through Albuquerque and Milwaukee, they’ll probably be happy to put you on it and get another person where they need to go. Or if you see your flight is going to misconnect, you can even be proactive and try to get switched in advance.

Airlines are used to doing this stuff for their elite customers, so the tools are in the toolbox. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve helped an amateur friend by feeding them alternatives to suggest, and they end up being the only people on their flight getting to their destination at a reasonable time…


16. Your Feet Are Your Best Transportation

If you plan sightseeing in a city, try to go by foot as much as possible. This way you will learn much more about the city and the people. My last time in Tokyo, I was walking daily about 20 kilometers and it was amazing to see small neighborhoods and shops/restaurants which you wouldn’t see because there aren’t any “attractions.” You get to experience the culture much more!


15. Get Additional Security For Cheap

Bring one of the wedge door stops. Use it to prevent others from opening your door at night when you’re sleeping in a guest house, hostel, motel, someone’s apartment, etc. It’ll save you from being robbed at night when you’re at your most vulnerable.


14. A Cheap And Useful Item Every Traveler Should Have

Always bring a pen and make sure it’s working. You may need to fill out customs or immigration papers or even just to do a crossword to spend the time. Bringing a pen takes up very little space but can be very helpful at the right time!


13. Don’t Forget To Take Your Time

Slow down. There is no need to see all the sights. Just see a few at a leisurely pace and you will enjoy them a lot more. Good examples of this are going from museum to museum in Paris and actually not seeing anything because the collections are so rich, or driving from one national park to another in the United States without realizing how huge and how far apart they can be.

Also, plan your meal times according to local customs. Most European restaurants close at 2 p.m. for a break. Good luck getting a decent lunch after that.


12. How To Get The Best Exchange Rate

Don’t exchange money. ATMs give you the best exchange rate. Also, many credit cards do not have international fees. Get one to use on your travels. Hotel lobbies have great bathrooms. Find a luxury hotel, and go to the bar, have an iced tea or a Coke or something then you can use a nice bathroom, and most also have free WiFi these days as well. Go eat where locals do; food will be better, cheaper, and you’ll meet cool people.


11. Always Stay Hydrated

Keep a change of underwear, toothbrush, cash, and device charger in whatever bag will be on your body the entire time you’re traveling. Lost bags happen and a fresh pair of skivvies can make all the difference.

Also, take a water bottle with you to the airport, empty it before security then refill near your gate. Most airports these days have water bottle filling stations to make it easy.


10. Check Wikitravel Before You Go

Wikitravel is a good first stop resource for practical information and tips. Also, if you travel a lot, consider getting debit or credit cards with no foreign transaction fees and with full ATM fee reimbursement (Chase, Schwab). This way you won’t have to pay exchange rate fees.


9. Represent Your Country

You are an unofficial ambassador of whichever country you are a citizen of. Every interaction you have with someone will either make or break what they think of your country and its people. Be polite, make sure you are familiar with local customs and don’t talk about anything “taboo” unless you know it’s 100% safe or you are willing to go to bat for whatever issue comes up. For instance, I’ve had some amazing conversations with Syrian refugees throughout the Middle East, but straight up asking people who they support in the Syrian civil war would be a horrible idea. Usually, you will learn the more they talk. Also, realize that some people will automatically let their feelings loose on you simply because of where you are from. Some Palestinian taxi drivers will make it known how they feel about Israel and why they hate the U.S. just because you’re an American. Just smile and nod, don’t engage. Be the unofficial diplomat.


8. Avoid Those Stomach Problems

The number one thing for me, which I don’t see posted elsewhere: You can take Pepto Bismol prophylactically to lower your risk of diarrhea. Take a couple before each meal, and again before you go to bed. You can get caplets so you don’t have to chew the tablets (Pepto Bismol should not be taken if you’re on doxy or some other medications; ask your doctor).


 7. Hire A Temporary Driver

This has worked for me in less-developed nations. If you make a connection with someone providing a service (driver, daily tour guide, etc.), hire them. If I feel that a driver is doing a good job and doesn’t try to rip me off, I offer to hire them for the week. That way, it is one less thing to worry about. For example, I had a great rickshaw driver in India that didn’t try to hustle me or screw me over. I enjoyed his company and offered to hire him for the whole week. I said that I wanted to be picked up at 8 a.m. every morning and set a good price for his services that I would pay at the end of the week. It was awesome, no hassle, no haggling over the price after every taxi ride, and no hustle. He recommended places to eat for us, introduced us to his family, and gave us a genuine experience. He also hooked us up with his cousin in the next city we visited who we hired as well. I have done this in a bunch of countries (Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Nepal, etc.) and really makes the trip easier.


6. Know The Local Tricks

I have lived in Asia, in Europe, and traveled extensively (am from the Midwestern U.S.). A few constants:

Get a travel backpack. I have a Columbia one that was $200 and it’s seven years old and still going amazingly strong. It’s been to 10 different countries with me so far. I find being able to strap on a backpack makes getting around FAR easier than attempting to roll a suitcase onto public transit.

Don’t just learn where the public transit system goes, but learn HOW to use it. London buses don’t take cash. Japanese buses require you to take a ticket when you get on and then pay when you get off. You can get away without getting a ticket on Berlin trains, but when you get one, the machines on the trains themselves only take cash. Don’t bother with getting a bus ticket in Rome, no one checks.

Thieves know all the tricks people think are clever for hiding their valuables. Wallet in the front pocket? Not even close to secure. My own father got pickpocketed with his wallet stored there. In addition to keeping digital copies of your stuff (get a scanning app like Scannable so they’re legible to the embassy), keep your docs in separate pockets within a secure bag so if a thief DOES get in, you don’t lose your passport AND your credit cards all at once.

And allow yourself to get lost, within reason. Deliberately getting lost is one of the best ways to 1. get to know a city and 2. stumble across something really cool, like that cafe or record shop that’s out of the way and fun. Example: I got lost in Shoreditch, London, and ended up in this awesome market where locals were selling colorful hijabs in all different fabrics. It was super cool.


 5. Create Your Personal Soundtrack

Bring new music with you when you travel, preferably by an artist or in a genre that you’re already familiar with.

If you enjoyed listening to it, over time the music will “imprint” itself to your memories of your destination. And so every time you listen to it again, your mind goes back to that place.


4. Just The Essentials

Always travel light. Certainly with no more than you can fit in an airline carry-on bag. Confirm your flight at least four hours before departure. When arriving at the airport, do not board as soon as the gate opens, but wait until final call and then a few minutes more. If the flight is full, you may get a free upgrade. Especially if you have joined the loyalty club (even at the lowest level). Worth the chance. Always carry a power adapter and a fully-charged USB charging bank. Take no more than a 100 euros/dollars etc. with at least two internationally-recognized credit cards. Look up the number for your embassy in whatever destination you’re traveling to and put it on speed dial. Be aware of the customs of the country you’re traveling to. Lonely planet guides are great, so do your research. Make sure that at least one person other than those traveling knows your itinerary.

Above all, always, always be polite and respectful. It’s okay to fume inside at some car hire receptionist or check-in in clerk, but remember you need them more than they need you. I could go on, but there are online guides that give more great tips than I could possibly do here.


3. Quick Tip About Boarding Passes

Don’t delete from your phone/throw away your boarding passes before entering your destination. I’ve seen border security ask for them.


2. Being Nice Results In Free Stuff

Be nice. To every single person. Talk. Learn about them and their culture. Most people are welcoming and happy to have you in their country. When you show interest, they are very happy to inform you about things you won’t learn in books.

I am an extremely inquisitive person, so I like to sit in the front seat of the taxi and talk to the driver the whole way. There are two benefits to this behavior. Firstly, you will expand your knowledge and find out nice spots and hacks about the place that you’re in. Secondly, I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten awesome deals just because I was friendly. In the Netherlands, I took a taxi from Rotterdam to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. It was a big fare and the driver literally took 70% off the fare. I have had very similar experiences all over the world. The most recent one was in Dubai where the front desk upgraded my room to a business suite along with access to the VIP lounge.

Just talk and be nice. It doesn’t cost anything and the payoff is great.


1. The Two Main Tips If You Don’t Listen To Anything Else

I travel internationally 1-3 times a month, and the two best tips I have are:

1. Travel light. Don’t bring “just in case” items. Plan to buy them at your destination if you really need them, which you don’t.

2. Get a phone plan that allows free data roaming (e.g. T-Mobile in the U.S., 3 Mobile in Europe). Having a working phone is a game changer, and makes basically every aspect of travel easier.