I have visited over 50 countries and flown with probably 200+ airplanes. Over the years, I have learned some travel tricks and tips that saved me a lot of grief, money and time. I am not talking about “Pack light” cliché kind of advice, but rather cool, useful, and practical ideas.
I am happy to share these with you as I discovered, tried, and even researched for this material. You may have heard of some of them, but I can guarantee that you do not know about most. Without further do, let’s dive right into it – the order is aleatory:
1. Put Your Carry-On Into The First Few Overhead Bins
If you are amongst the last passengers to board on a plane you may have the unpleasant surprise to be left with no room for your carry-on in your overhead bin.
For that reason, a lot of people hustle to get on the plane right away so that they have a spot guaranteed above their heads. Otherwise, the flight attendants may place their luggage somewhere else.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to stand in that line up for 10-15 minutes. I continue to sit and read – or whatever else – and I wait until most of the passengers are on.
As I am walking into the plane, I put my carry-on in one of the first overhead bins that have an empty spot. This way, I don’t have to carry it until the end of the plane (or wherever I am seated) since I am coming back the same way anyway.
Also, most of the passengers are already seated at that point and I am not taking anyone’s spot. Trust me; there is always room available or you can easily make some.
2. Turn Your Glasses Into A Phone Support – One Of My Favourite Travel Hacks
Instead of just holding your phone in your hands and read or watch something, turn your glasses into an awesome support while flying or waiting in an airport. This way, you can sip on your drink with one hand and munch on something with the other! 🙂
3. Overbooked Flight? Don’t Take The First Compensation Offer
There will be a time when you will be waiting to board the plane and hearing the airline’s employee on the PA announcing that the flight was overbooked. Which means, someone will have to miss the flight. It happens ALL the time.
In that case, the airline offers to pay volunteers to give their seat away for a later flight.
The amounts of these compensations vary, but they always start low (depending on the distance and destination, it could start at $200). If you can afford to stay in the airport a little longer, that’s great, but don’t jump and take the first offer. It will eventually raise A LOT more. Here is one example:
I was in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport coming back to Edmonton not too long ago. My Delta flight was overbooked. As they announced they’ll give $300US plus meal vouchers to those who can wait for the next flight, I got excited. However, my delay meant I had to cancel a date that evening, which I didn’t want to cancel. I decided to take the plane.
Fifteen minutes later, the offer increased to $500US. Tempting again but…
The only problem was that my next flight home would be the next day, at the same time. Not only I had to spend an extra night on the road, but next morning I had to go to work, too. A bit complicated, so I went ahead with my decision to embark.
As time got closer to the boarding and they couldn’t find volunteers, Delta had to raise the stake: $1,000US.
That’s when I took it. I also got meals and hotel vouchers. Which, in perspective, it meant a free accommodation day in a different city, plus a “call-in-sick” the next day at work! Oh, plus a thousand dollars. That’s my parents’ pension for four months in Romania. Or, a 7-day all-inclusive trip to Puerto Vallarta for a person.
I waited to see how far they can go and it was perfect. The $300 they initially offered versus a thousand. Winner.
Do the same thing, but make sure to notice if anyone else around seems excited and interested. It’s a two-edge sword, as someone else may grab the low stake. They may steal the deal right under your nose.
4. No Wi-Fi On The Plane? Do This
Let’s say you have to do a lot of online research on a flight. Or maybe you want to read the latest article published on your favorite blog. As you know, there is no internet on the plane so what do you do? Check this out:
I like to read posts from a marketer called Neil Patel. He writes super long articles that take about 30 minutes to read, but during a regular day, I don’t have enough time to immerse myself in that. So I save them for a flight. How do I do that? And what should you also do with long articles that you want to read on the plane?
Open the article before departure (or at home when preparing for the trip) and simply save the page. Go to File->Save Page As->Format.
Save as Webpage (in Chrome) or Web Archive (Safari) on your desktop. While flying, you can access the article just like if you would read the Internet. Save as many articles as you want, and you can read during the entire flight. Just note that videos don’t play when using this trick, since they still need Internet to start.
5. Wonder When Is The Best Day To Book A Flight? Tuesdays And Weekends
The perfect day of the week to book your flight varies from company to company, but according to a study made by Expedia last year, it seems like Tuesdays and weekends are the best.
However, keep looking for deals all the time. The same report also says that if you fly overseas (Europe) the lowest prices could be found, in average, around 160 days before desired your departure – or 176 days if you’re traveling to the Asia/Pacific region.
On the other hand, if you are interested in finding best flights within North America, the magic number of days before booking is 57.
6. The Best Booking Websites? Use These Ones
Are you the type of person that schedules his/her holidays months in advance? Are you a last-minute deal junkie? Do you prefer only hotels or would you experiment with something else?
I have three places I check out all the time:
Momondo.com – one of the best cheap flights aggregators out there. It never disappointed me. My trip to Colombia (details below) for $335 was through them. Access Momondo using the link below:
Google Flights – on the same level with Momondo. Sometimes the prices extracted from the websites are not available anymore once you get to the carrier’s website, but nonetheless a diamond finder.
Bootsnall – this is the best website if you are looking for an ‘around the world ticket’ type of experience.
What is on your bucket list? Say you want to fly to Bali. You would probably pay close to $2,000.
What if you want to visit 7 different fantastic locations in one year instead of one? Say the Caribbean, Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris, Istanbul, Dubai, and Bali. It would probably cost you a fortune to buy 7 different round flights. Two thousand dollars times seven destinations will sure send you over $10,000.
With the Bootsnall aggregator, all seven could be done with only $4,160 (see below).
7. Where To Find The Cheapest Flights? Subscribe to Scott’s
If you don’t want to spend time online looking for deals on a regular basis, I have the best alternative for you. I discovered it earlier this year, and I am notified DAILY with PHENOMENAL deals.
If you don’t know what destination to pick for your next vacation, Scott’s Cheap Flights is the best you can get. Scott Keyes is a seasoned traveler who searches for you, daily, the best flights in the upcoming months. If you subscribe to his membership, you will receive a discounted deal anywhere in the world. Did I say daily yet (starting most likely later on today)? Here is how an email from Scott looks like:
Chances are, within a month after signing up, you have at least 4-5 destinations that are hard to ignore. Deals like $500 for Hong Kong, $300 for Costa Rica, or $400 for Portugal are always popping up. Plus, the rest of the world, whatever country you can think of.
Scott’s membership fee is just a bit over $30 per year. Rest assured you will save that ten times on your next flight. The best thing is, when you set up your account, you get to insert your departure city, so you will always get the best deals and flights leaving from your town!
Last week I got my car towed. It was because, well, I parked illegally. When I found out that I had to pay a $300 fine to retrieve my car, the first thing I thought was wondering about which country I could have visited through Scott’s Cheap Flights, with that money. Weird, I know.
8. Best Travel Apps? Use These Ones
We talked about travel hacks and tips, but how about mobile applications that do that? There are some great apps out there that will help you through every part of your trip. From planning, to help at the airport, and even assistance when you are at your destination. Here are 13 must-have apps when traveling:
Dayuse – Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to rent a hotel room only for a few hours, in case you want to take a shower and a quick nap? Well, now you can, with Dayuse. The app lists hotel rooms for up to 75 percent off regular nightly rates, at 3,000 hotels around the world.
Airmule – If you have extra room in your luggage, you can sell it to someone who needs it! The app verifies the sender and the cargo so they make sure it’s all legal. Why not get some money back from that expensive ticket?
iFly Pro – This app provides in-depth information on more than 700 airports worldwide. This includes in-terminal navigation, flight statuses, parking rates, layover ideas and tips on services and amenities near you. It costs $4.99 (iOS) and $6.99 (Android).
GateGuru – It pulls out information on shops, restaurants and other amenities in both domestic and international airports. It’s a free app.
Turo – It is the Airbnb of cars, meaning you can rent a vehicle directly from the owner. It is available to users in the US and Canada. Turo lets you search for the exact type of vehicle you want at a fraction of what the rental car companies offer. Very cool, here is a video:
LoungeBuddy – It gives travelers the ability to discover, book, and access airport lounges around the world. It has over 230 lounges! It’s also free.
Seatguru.com – It lets you look at what seat is preferred on a plane, based on reviews from other passengers. Cool!
SkyGuru – This is interesting. If you find yourself getting stressed by the movement of the airplane and the bumps of a flight, SkyGuru will explain it all to you in real time, making you feel more secure about the flight.
Entrain – You beat your jet lag with this app. You can monitor your body’s circadian clock by adjusting faster to new time zones and schedules. Free app, see below how it works:
HappyCow – Are you a vegan? This app provides vegan and vegetarian restaurants in over 10,000 cities from around the world. Each restaurant listing comes with a short description of the menu and reviews. It costs $3.99.
One:Night – How about a price-reduced luxury room booked on the same day, helping both you (get instant accommodation) and the hotel (book a non-reserved room)? One:Night offers stays at luxury hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin. Every day at 3 PM, the app unveils discounts for that evening. Discounts may vary, but it is known to feature $600 rooms for only $190.
Google Translate – People often forget about this one as they struggle to figure out communication in a foreign country. Download before the trip to get help with any language issues.
Lola – It is a brand new mobile app that serves as your concierge. It instantly connects people from all over the world to its travel agents who find and book flights, hotels, and cars for the customers. The app also provides support while the clients are on their trips.
9. Visit New Countries For $40
I’ll show you how to turn “OMG, f–k that,” into “OMG, I would love that.”
Let’s say you consider visiting Colombia for your seven-day vacation. A flight is $600. What would you choose from the following three options:
A. Fly to Colombia for $600 on a direct flight, get there in a few hours and enjoy your full 7 days.
B. Fly to Colombia for $335 but arrive 30 hours later (a day and a half later).
C. Screw it, fly to Mexico for $400, get there in a few hours and experience Aztec civilization.
How about I will get you get BOTH Colombia and Mexico for $375?
Most people want direct flights to their desired destination, to save many hours and days. Nothing wrong with that.
How about you get points B and C in the same package? I just had it a few months ago, for $375. How can you do it?
It’s a problem of mentality. Every time people book their flights online, they freak out when they see a total time of, say, 52 hours to their final destination. “OMG, 52 hours?! F–k that!”
I look for the longest. Why? Because the longest total time means there is a long layover in a different country. Which means, you have a free day or night to experience a different culture and country. Get out of the airport, spend the night, make some friends, AND rest in a bed.
People have the misconception that they have to spend their layover time in the airports all the time.
Think about it: your big luggage is on the plane, so it’s taken care of – it will make it to the final destination. You don’t have any other worries or things to drag around. All you have is your carry-on with whatever you need for the night.
That’s what I did when I booked my flight to Medellin, Colombia. It was $335, with a 21-hour layover in Ciudad de Mexico, from 9 PM to next day at 6 PM.
Typically, the wrong mentality of a tourist is: “No way, I rather pay more to get there faster as I don’t want to sleep on the airport chairs.”
I booked the $335 flight to Medellin. Then I went to Airbnb and booked a $30 room in an apartment located in downtown Ciudad de Mexico.
I specifically looked for a property that had young owners so that I could get along with. I contacted them, I introduced myself, and after we had trusted each other, I offered to pay for some gas if they pick me up from the airport. How much?
I paid another $10, they picked me up from the airport, and then we partied all night in the fabulous Mexico City. Then I slept for a few hours. The next day, Roberto and Tabata (my hosts, below) took me through Mexico’s capital, showed me around, went to a soccer game, and had a great time.
Needless to say, I am now very good friends with them, and we are constantly keeping in touch. Roberto is a lawyer and may consider moving to North America.
In retrospect, instead of saying “OMG, f–k the 30-hour total travel time, I will pay $600” I got to:
– Visit two countries instead of one (Colombia and Mexico), in the same week
– Paid only $375 for flights and accommodation in between
– Made friends for life
– Rested in between flights
It’s a matter of looking at the total flight time with different eyes.
10. Know All The Travel Scams You Could Be Victim Of
Scam Detector is a website that exposes over 1,000 scams you could fall for, of which 140+ when traveling. Browse it, educate yourself, and don’t become a victim.
Type in the Search box the name of the country or city you are visiting and it will tell you what scams you could fall for in those locations. Be smart.
Scam Detector started as a mobile app but turned into a responsive web-platform for easy access all over the world. You can subscribe to their newsletter to also get the Top 5 scams of the week.
11. What To Do If Your Flight Is Cancelled
Have you ever been scheduled on a flight that was canceled or delayed by a few hours, while you were in the airport? Did you see all those hundreds of passengers hustling to the one counter trying to get first dibs on rescheduling?
It happened to me last week while flying to Romania to see my parents.
It is not uncommon. In case this happens in the future, don’t get into the crowded line to see the gate agent (along with the other 200 people).
Instead, call the airline’s toll-free number and talk to their customer service representative. You’ll be helped within minutes. Then you can enjoy a coffee while the others are stepping on each other’s toes at the gate, struggling to rebook a new flight.
The person on the phone can take care of things for you the same way the gate agent can. If you want, you can get in line while calling the airline. If the customer service reschedules you before you get to the counter, you can simply step out of line.
12. How To Get Upgraded to First Class
One of the regrets I have during all these years of traveling is that I didn’t sign up for the loyalty programs of EVERY airline I ever have flown with, at the VERY FIRST flight. What does that mean?
Time goes on anyway. Chances are, you will fly at some point with the same company again. Many times.
Do what I didn’t do initially: use every airline’s loyalty program and allow the points accrued in time to move you up to more comfort. Sure, not for your first flight with them, but later. That time will come.
Don’t be lazy today. Use a minute to sign up, that’s what I mean. Not only that, but nowadays when competition is so high, airlines throw in other amazing rewards that you wouldn’t know about or take advantage of, otherwise.
13. Make Your Phone Work Abroad Like It Does At Home
When it comes to your mobile data, there are a few other tricks you can use. What kind of telephone do you have: an Android or iPhone?
If you have an Android phone – Nexus or Pixel – you can make it work abroad (135 countries) exactly like home. All you have to do is to use Google’s Project Fi, which is your next-gen cellular carrier. Click the link below to access it:
If you have an iPhone, you can set it up to work on Project Fi using this hack.
On the other hand, if in doubt you could purchase a portable Wi-Fi hotspot like Skyroam. All it takes is $8 for unlimited data in over 100 countries.
14. Breeze Through The Airport Gates Without Taking Your Shoes Off: Get A Global Entry
You know that at every airport you will be going through the tedious TSA procedure. The good news is that now it is possible to make things easier by using TSA PreCheck for an annual membership fee of $85.
This will help you get through without the hassle of issues with shoes, your items being gone through, and increased ease at getting through the process.
However, what’s even better is to sign up for the Global Entry Program. For $100 (only $15 more), you will get the TSA PreCheck benefits plus a faster access through the US border, along with a better “treatment,” so to speak. Well worth it. You can sign up for a Global Entry application using the link below:
Besides the United States, other countries that qualify for the Global Entry Program are Canada, the UK, Germany, Panama, Colombia, Netherlands, Mexico, Singapore, India, Switzerland, Argentina and South Korea. No Australia just yet.
In Canada, you can also sign up for a Nexus membership, as long as you don’t have a criminal record.
15. Avoid The “Randomly Selected” Customs Scan: Batteries Out!
How many times have you been stopped at the gates for a routine “random” check of your luggage or your clothes that you’re wearing? It’s annoying and uncomfortable as hell.
Batteries represent a huge issue when it comes to going through the airport scanners.
Be sure you have taken all the batteries out of your travel appliances before you pack. There is nothing like a vibrating device to set off security concerns and delay your flight as the crew makes sure everything is safe. Put the batteries in the big suitcase that you check in.
The security people don’t even tell you why they look through your luggage. I’ve heard from someone working at the airport that a lot of times is because they want to make sure the batteries in your carry-on (which they can see when scanning the bag) may be the cause.
16. Put The Little Things In One Place: Jacket Pocket
How annoying is when you go through the security gates to take everything off your pants’ pockets? Those quarters you got at the coffee shop, your keys, your wallet? Plus the glasses and the bracelet? And the watch or the necklace?
When going through the x-ray machines, speed up the process by putting all these small objects into your jacket pockets minutes before getting in line. This way you can use fewer bins, and it moves the conveyor belt process along faster.
I know it seems obvious now, but a lot of times I forget this myself, only to throw everything in the bin and pick them up one by one on the other side.
17. Oh Yes, You Forgot Your Charger. No problem!
Did you forget your phone charger at home? Most of us do.
Don’t panic. You’d be surprised, but it is very likely that the airport has many that have been left behind by other passengers. MANY. Here is the trick:
If they have been unclaimed for 90 days, the airport staff is allowed to give them away, so most likely will give you one. To keep the place clean and tidy is what they want, also.
18. Liquids Through The Gates? Yes, You Can
Once you get past security, you may have a decent wait time before your flight. You are a captive audience for all those pricey little stores and vendors.
You can avoid spending extra money on water if you pack an empty bottle in your carry-on bag. When you are past the security checkpoint, just fill it up.
Also, frozen water or juice is not judged in the same way as liquids when you go through security. Frozen liquids are let through with you, so you could simply bring a bottle that you that contains frozen liquids.
19. Send Yourself An Email With A Copy Of Your Passport
Did you ever lose your passport in a different country? It’s the worst experience ever. The thing is, you always think you are careful until… you’re not 🙂
It happened to me while in was in Los Angeles. As a Canadian, I was lucky enough to find a consulate in LA, but the procedures of proving who you are, well, are not that easy. I had to spend two extra days in Los Angeles (until I was verified), meaning I also had to pay for a couple of nights at a hotel, for which – of course – I needed my passport!
Imagine you lose your passport in China.
Here is what to do before holidays: send a copy of your passport to your email. If bad news happens while you’re away, you always have handy proof of your identity, which will help speed up the process.
Not only that, you only have to do this once, and you will always have it accessible.
Just make sure that when you send yourself the email to write a different subject line than “My Passport Details,” just in case your email ever gets hacked.
20. Look For Two One-Way Flights
A lot of times, booking two one-way flight tickets, with two different airlines, might be cheaper and more convenient than round trip tickets. If you have some reward points to take advantage of as well, you could get a hell of a deal.
In my case, a flight two-ways to Romania costs about $1,300US during the hot season. I flew to Romania last week with a one-way flight that cost me $283US (I used some Aeroplan points, too).
The other one-way ticket (return) cost $478US. A total of $751US.
21. Pretend You Live In A Different Country When You Book Flights
Many locations have different prices according to the “Point of sale,” meaning where the ticket was purchased. That happens because the transaction is subject to regional pricing.
The cost of the tickets is lower in an underdeveloped country or when travel companies are trying to set up shop in a new region. There are basically different costs for tickets for the same flight, and one can find this out from sites, for example, such as Expedia.com and Expedia.co.kr (which is a Korean version).
While checking the flights you need to be aware that the prices will be given in the local currency, so have a currency converter handy.
22. Search Incognito AND Clear Cookies
This is one of the most critical things to be aware of when it comes to travel hacks and tips. Did it ever happen to you to find a great deal online, save it for a few hours or days, only to find a higher price when you return to it? It happens all the time, and it’s nerve wracking.
That is because the cookies stored on your computer tell the booking website you already visited it and you are interested. When you go back to it, their software detects the same interested visitor and increases the price automatically.
I am sure you probably know how to avoid the problem, but just in case you don’t – here it is.
When you are ready to start looking for deals on flights, open a new incognito window in your browser, not a regular one. The incognito window doesn’t store cookies, and the prices won’t increase because you’re always be considered a new visitor.
However, if you’re going back to a great deal found a few hours or days ago, make sure you clear the cache in your history panel as well.
23. Pack The Heavy Items At The Base Of Your Suitcase
I always get a smile on my face when I am in an airport and see suitcases falling over randomly.
Maintain the balance of your suitcase by packing shoes, books, full bottles or other heavy items at the base, near the wheels. This helps keep the suitcase straight and it would not keep falling over.
24. You Have a 24-Hour Window For A Refund
Typically, flights have a 24-hour window where you can cancel the booking without paying any fees – even for most of the “nonrefundable” flights! This provides you with the opportunity to book a flight and then keep searching for a day to get a lower price.
Meanwhile, there are services such as FareLock, which provides the chance to wait up to a week before booking with a minimum charge beginning at $6.99.
Another great service is Options Away, which can hold flights for up to three weeks at a rate starting from $4 to $45.
25. Your Credit Card May Do Wonders
A lot of people don’t know what their credit cards offer when they are away. And I am not even talking about the travel-oriented credit cards.
Numerous credit cards come with complimentary benefits, such as entry to airline lounges, insurance coverage, renting cars and hotel room upgrades. Check with your credit card company to see if you have such bonuses which you probably didn’t know about.
When it comes to travel credit cards, many are great according to your lifestyle and location.
If you live in the US, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the premium travel credit cards. For every $1 spent you get 1 point, and for every $1 spent on traveling you earn 2 Ultimate Rewards Points. With a yearly charge of $95, it renders various offers such as waiving foreign transaction fees.
Also, if in the first three months of joining Chase you have spent $4,000 on goods, then you get a signup bonus of 40,000 points. Last but not least, while redeeming points for car rentals, cruises, hotels and airfares you can boast 20% off travel.
If you are on the road a lot, click the link below to see four travel reward credit cards that you need in your pocket:
On the other hand, with the American Express Platinum Card, you can get a Boingo membership, which offers in-flight Internet. Which takes me to the next point:
26. Stay Connected To The Internet Everywhere
Roaming and in-flight Internet are extremely expensive. Get a subscription to Boingo, which provides Wi-Fi hotspots and costs only $4.98 per month for access in America and $59 per month to get access all over the world.
27. Make Free Calls Everywhere
This may sound like common sense now, but a lot of people don’t think of it when the time comes.
Most of us call our relatives (moms, spouses, etc.) every time we are in holidays. While a lot of travelers purchase mobile data plans that offer a tempting number of minutes for calls, there are still many people out there who ignore/forget the fact what you can now make FREE phone calls with mobile apps such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, Google Voice, or Skype. It’s 2017, people!
28. Get An International Student Card For Cheaper Deals
A student ID card gives discounts in your country, but can also be valid in others. This can translate into cut price travel, accommodation, attractions and events – even food and alcohol.
An International Student Identity Card gives the holder access to more savings and extra discounts across 45 countries. How to get one?
29. Save Accommodation Fees By Taking The Night Train
If you travel within bigger countries (such as Japan, US, etc) and visit multiple cities, schedule your transportation strategically. The best is the night train.
Not only do you save the price of a night’s accommodation, but less travelers choose night or inconveniently timed flights and travel options, meaning better prices for you.
A night bus or train can be a great choice, especially as comfort levels are improving and many have reclining seating. You may have to wait an extra half hour for the destination train station to open, but it could save you money for the inconvenience.
30. Live Like A King On That Small Budget
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas or any other major city, you know that if you play any game in a casino you get free drinks. Well, in a lot of other places in the world, you can also have similar benefits.
While some hostels might not have the amenities of 5-star resorts, a smart traveler can live in the dorms and still party like a millionaire.
For example, in South East Asia, you can lounge by the pool in 5-star locations simply by buying a drink at the bar inside the hotel. Other places might require a spa booking, or even just a room enquiry. Just don’t act guilty.
Many high-end resorts allow guests and members of the public into their social areas, even though it helps to know (or make friends with) someone already staying there.
That’s all folks, thanks for reading all the way to the end about my favourite travels hacks and tips. If you want to see my next adventures or where I am going next just by throwing a dart at the world map, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Meanwhile, you can read my post about meeting the world’s most dangerous man in Colombia, everything you need to know about the mysterious Easter Island (here is a prize for you below), or about my trips to Panama, Russia, and Svalbard.