When dealing with travel there is one undisputed law you need to follow: "Foresight teaches gently, error teaches brutally". Basically, learn from others mistakes. You can loose so much time and money by not knowing the right information before making your trip. It doesn't matter where you are going, someone has already done it for better or for worse. That's why it's crucial to see what worked or what went flat with people making a similar quest. In honor of 'Travel with Care Week', I've put together a list of 25 advice "travel hacks" from my own and other's travel experiences. This list will hopefully save you some time, frustration, and money. Here we go...
1. When ordering plane tickets, either clear your cookies and caches or use Google Chrome's 'Incognito mode'. Airline websites can actually decipher how much to charge you for tickets by your internet history. Airlines are tricky little grimlims, you'll get some more hacks for them later.
2. If traveling overseas, forget about travelers checks or debit cards. No one accepts checks and your debit card processing fees are going to be astronomical. Instead, get a pre-paid MasterCard like the Thomas Cook card from cashpassport.com. It's not connected to your bank account so your money is protected, and you can still use it at ATMs to withdraw money. For a small service fee, you get safety and convenience.
3. If traveling overseas and you want to use your phone, DON'T. Your roaming charges (even if you get the 'data plan') are absolutely a rip off. Instead, buy a burner phone at your location. These are super cheap ($15 US in some places) and give you the basic necessities.
4. If the burner phone is not your style then buy an unlocked phone here and get your destination countrie's SIM card. It's also very cheap and you can use it every time you visit again.
5. Okay so none of those work for you? FINE, but turn your phone on airport mode and use Skype or Viber for international calls, and MessageMe for WIFI text messaging.
6. Get an all purpose travel raincoat. One that's light weight and can be used in many situations.
7. Don't get your currency exchanged at banks. This is another huge ripoff. Either get your prepaid MasterCard or get your cash from ATMs, they give you the going rate.
8. At the airport and too cheap for the WIFI? Go near the first class lounges. Usually those entitled one's get free WIFI and you can siphon it for free too.
9. When needing to learn a language quickly for another country, these phrases should get you pretty far: "How do you say X", "That's too Much", " Yes, that one", "No, this one", "Please and Thank you."
10. All chargers are not the same. Most of Europe has a different circuit port than Britain and Australia and Asia each have their own. Save the hassle and get a all-in-one port that even features USB capability like this one: World Travel Adopter
11. If you are going somewhere far off for a long time (one month or more), make some friends first before dong all the touristy stuff. They can show you the best places to go and might even take you for free.
12. Keep a photo copy of your passport at all times and make sure to also email it to yourself.
13. If you want the real scoop on an unexplored town, skip all the travel and concierge offices. They want to sell you something. Instead, go to the local real estate agency and act like you want to invest in some property. They hands down know the best nooks and crannies of any city.
14. You can use the Priceline app to book rooms until 9pm the same evening. This helps in a pinch.
15. To avoid weight limits on your carry-on's, take out some of the heavier material before weighing it at the airport. I've stuffed my pockets with trinkets and let my friend hold my laptop. This can save loads of cash not having to check luggage it.
16. Ask for a hotel upgrade. I've heard wonder stories of people who got upgraded to a Donald Trump skyline view with an infinity pool. All they can do is say no.
17. Buy annual travel insurance policy. It can cost less than $100/year from AAA and cover you on all trips under 4 weeks.
18. Baggage insurance is a scam. It won't cover anything of value that gets lost. Usually the airline will reimburse you anyways.
19. If you're picky about airline seating. Use seatguru.com to understand the seat layout of your flight. It will warn you of equipment boxes or the worst places to sit on your particular flight.
20. Important: To avoid ruining the first few days of an overseas trip due to jet lag, DO NOT try to nap it off when you get there. Your bodie's cycle is trying to catch up, by sleeping to your natural rhythms you just delay it adjusting with the new situation. Stay awake till the proper sleeping hour, then your body will adjust.
21. Is your destination flight's price outrageous?? Book your flight to the nearest town/city and take ground transportation in. It's usually a good deal cheaper. Ex: A flight to London may be $1,400 but a flight to Dawford (about 20min outside) is only $1,000 and the bus ride is only $50. BAM! I just saved you $350...
22. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are usually the cheapest times to fly.
23. If you ever forget your phone charger or just need one, go to your hotel registry. Ask them for the lost and found charges. It's almost a given they will have a spare charger in it.
24. Going to Paris? Go to the Louvre via the mall on Rue Roylae, it will help you avoid the 2hr+ line.
25. Pack half as much luggage as you would think and twice as much money.
Want to actually put these to good use? Join your fellow Auburn students as we rampage through Europe on the 2014 Auburn European Grad Trip.
The final deadline for the 2014 Auburn European Graduation Trip is next Friday, March 28. There are only 10 spots available, so reserve your spot today! If you have any questions, e-mail email@example.com and see the details here.