Traveling can be stressful – but there are plenty of ways to make it less so. We’ve pulled together 18 travel hacks that will help you up your game in no time.
1. Make your own in-flight facial for glowing skin when you land.
Air travel can wreak havoc on your skin, but luckily, you can still look fresh-faced and glowing when you arrive by making a simple scrub – and you don’t even need to bring any ingredients! Simply ask the flight attendants for a sugar packet and a slice of lemon when the service cart comes around. Mix the two together and rub it gently on your face to exfoliate. Rinse your face off in the bathroom and voila! You’re ready to face your next destination.
2. Make disposable hygiene products your in-flight friend.
If you’re not up for making your own in-flight facial, you can still keep yourself looking fresh and clean when you arrive: facial wipes and mini disposable toothbrushes (no water needed) to the rescue! Simply stash a couple of wipes and a packet of mini toothbrushes in your carry-on, then freshen up right in your seat before you land.
3. Keep your packed necklaces free of tangles with toilet paper.
Necklaces can easily get tangled and knotted during the flight if not properly packed. To keep your necklaces from tangling, take a straight sheet of toilet paper and lay the necklace flat on top of it. Take the right side and fold it in, and then do the same with the left. Finally, wrap it around your finger to create a coil, slip it into a bag and your necklace is ready to travel! Alternatively, you can use a cardboard toilet paper roll as a hanger for your necklaces – just latch the necklace through the roll.
4. Protect your wine bottles on the road with a car heat shield.
Packing your favorite vino for that upcoming Thanksgiving road trip? Don’t let those bottles break in the back of your rental! You just might have something in your car already that can protect those bottles: a sun shade. These flexible shades can be the perfect cushioning to protect your reds and whites from bumpy roads.
5. Arrive early, fly early.
If you find yourself at the airport far in advance of your flight or have a rather long layover, check the flight information screens to see if there’s an earlier flight to your destination. If there is, ask an airline agent if it would be possible to snag a seat on the earlier flight. You can even try going directly to the gate agent of an earlier flight to your destination to ask if there are any extra seats. If an earlier flight has room, you just might find yourself getting to your destination ahead of schedule.
6. Try your luck at getting your own row.
When it comes to air travel, nothing’s quite as nice as scoring your very own row of seats in the main cabin. Up your chances of snagging this dream come true the next time you’re traveling with a companion by booking the aisle and window seat, rather than two seats next to each other. If someone does happen to book the middle seat, he or she will likely swap with one of you for the window or aisle. If no one takes the middle seat, you’ve just scored yourself your own row.
7. Make an educated guess if a flight price will drop.
No one likes to overpay for a flight, and while you can never know for certain if fares will drop, you can make an educated guess. When researching your flight, try to go through the booking process (make sure you don’t click purchase until you’re ready!) until you reach the seat selection step. Here, you can often take a look at the seating chart and see how many open seats are left. If most of the cabin is still available, there’s a good chance that demand is low, so prices may drop. If the cabin is nearly full, however, you’ll probably want to go ahead and purchase at the going rate.
8. Don’t kill your data usage looking up directions.
Map apps can be a lifesaver for today’s traveler – but they can also be a huge drain on your smartphone’s data usage. Save yourself from an excessive phone bill by using WiFi at your hotel or a local café to look up directions to an attraction or restaurant in your destination. Once you have the directions pulled up, take a screenshot to save the map to your photos folder. Now, you can reference the map while you’re on your way without draining your data (and without depending on WiFi if you’re traveling abroad and don’t have an international plan).
9. Take photos, not photocopies, of your documents.
Who needs paper when you have a smartphone? Instead of carrying an extra set of paper copies of your passport, visa, license and other important travel documents, simply take photos and store them on your smartphone. Now, you have your travel info at your fingertips – just make sure to put a password lock on your phone.
10. Throw some key items in your carry-on.
Arriving at your destination to find your luggage hasn’t quite found its way is an unfortunate circumstance that’s largely out of your control – but you can prepare for it. Put your medications in your carry-on, as well as glasses and contact lenses, if you wear them. Also pack an extra pair of underwear and a change of clothes in your carry-on, and if your itinerary includes the beach, throw the bathing suit in there, too. If it turns out your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do, you’ll still be able to change into fresh clothes and enjoy the beach.
11. Stash a little cash.
When you hit the ATM after arrival, set aside a very small amount of cash and stuff it into a pair of your socks. Hide the socks in your suitcase and carry on with your vacation. This little emergency fund can come in handy when unexpected expenses come up, like that last taxi ride to the airport or a departure fee when leaving certain destinations. Plus, if you don’t end up needing it, that extra cash is a nice surprise at the end of your trip.
12. Turn up the music without packing speakers.
If your hotel doesn’t offer an in-room alarm clock that hooks up to your smartphone, don’t worry: You can still pump up the volume a bit. Simply take your phone and place it into one of the empty drinking glasses the hotel provides: instant amplification. Thanks, science!
13. Take the time to read.
Those info books in your hotel room often go untouched, but next time you check in, take a minute to browse through and see what hidden services, luxuries or events are available to you – often for free. You may discover a free craft cocktail class, the best hot tub on the property or a coupon for a free appetizer at dinner.
14. Don’t forget the tourist boards.
Speaking of perks, don’t forget to connect with your destination’s tourist board to discover discounts and freebies available to tourists. Many tourist boards offer discount cards, special coupons and freebies at local restaurants and attractions.
15. Make a travel kit and keep it in your suitcase at home.
How many times have you gone on vacation, only to realize you’ve forgotten your toothbrush as soon as you make it to the hotel? Avoid this from now on by creating an extra set of those often-forgotten items. A toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, razor and Q-tips are trusty standbys, as are an extra phone charger, bottle opener and headphones. Keep this stashed in your suitcase so you never have to worry about forgetting these items next time you go to pack for a trip.
16. Dual citizenship? Make it a time-saver.
If you have dual citizenship — and therefore, two passports — carry both passports with you and pick the shorter line when you get to customs.
17. Take a (cheap) trip around your hometown.
Pretend you’re a tourist. Stop by a nearby hotel and grab any available coupons for local activities or restaurants. You might even want to chat up a concierge for the inside scoop on events and deals. You may be surprised to find out how many happenings (and how much savings) you’re missing out on.
18. Pack a pillowcase.
You can stuff it with clothes or your jacket for a makeshift pillow; or use it as your laundry bag and stash all your dirty clothes inside during your trip.
What’s your best travel hack? Let us know in the comments!
(Main image: krnjn used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)