Whether you’re planning a simple week-long holiday or a major year abroad, these 8 travel smart tips will help you have a stress-free trip.
I’m all for spontaneous holidays, but travel can be stressful if you don’t plan ahead, and there are definitely certain situations that you want to avoid when travelling.
For example, being a victim of a common travel scam, or being locked out of your bank account. Or realising that the amazing ‘deal’ you got on your accommodation isn’t actually that great considering you are miles away from anything worth seeing…
Travel Smart Before You’ve Left for the Airport
I’m not going to list the mega-obvious stuff here, because let’s be honest, you don’t need reminding to get travel insurance or travel vaccinations.
These travel smart tips are just here to make your trip way less stressful than it has to be, whilst giving you planning flexibility.
1. Know the Best Time to Book
Flights are always going to be one of the most expensive parts of travel. If you’re wanting to make your travel budget last as long as possible, then getting the best deal possible here is going to be crucial.
Almost everyone knows the cheapest places to book flights and accommodation these days. Skyscanner, Kayak, Booking.com, Trivago, AirBnB, etc. But are you using their best tools?
You may already know this but you can often find the best flight deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But Skyscanner for example, let you compare prices for every day of the month.
When you type in your travel destination and dates, just select ‘whole month’ to see the cheapest deals!
It’s also always worth ticking the ‘add nearest airports’ box. Sometimes for me, flights from Liverpool are way cheaper than my go-to-choice of Manchester airport, so it’s worth checking.
2. Watch Out for Additional Charges
Annoyingly, some airlines have started to advertise their flight prices without including carry-on bag charges.
So, it might look like you’ve found a cheap flight, but in reality, you’ll be paying a lot more than that.
For example, Easy Jet have even started charging for carry-on luggage. So, if you’re a light packer and normally just take a carry-on to avoid the extra charges, then watch out for them!
It’s also worth noting that some airlines even charge for reserving seats on the plane. This charge can usually be avoided if you check in online as soon as you can. That’s what I tend to do and I’ve been reserved seats next to each other every time so far.
3. Location, Location, Location
Obviously, if you want to stay in a hotel bang in the centre of all the main attractions, it’s going to cost a fair bit.
So, by looking further out you’ll find cheaper accommodation. This is fine if you’re somewhere like Europe where the public transport is fantastic. But not all places are as efficient.
Try to plan at least a few things that you want to do before booking your accommodation. This way you can make sure you’re still within a train or bus drive away from the main places.
Think about it, it’s not always worth booking cheap accommodation if you’re just going to spend even more on transport than you have to. Find a happy-medium.
4. Contact Your Bank
So, you’re all packed and ready to leave for the airport. But have you told your bank that you’re going away?
The last thing you want is to run out of cash and then the cash machine swallowing your card. This is particularly important for solo travellers if you don’t have anyone to lend you some money…
A lot of banks keep track of spending patterns, so if they all of a sudden notice you withdrawing cash from the opposite side of the world, you can’t blame them for trying to protect your account by locking it.
You don’t have to do this for all banks though. Halifax for example no longer request you inform them of your travels. Some banks do still ask you to though, so you might want to check yours just to be on the safe side.
All it takes is a quick phone call!
5. Talk to your Hotel/Hostel Staff
They know the area you’re in better than anyone!
Honestly, I’ve found the best little restaurants and cafés in the area, just by asking the staff for recommendations.
Plus, if you eat with the locals, it’s normally a LOT cheaper and you can submerge yourself in the local culture, rather than eating in the tourist traps.
A lot of time, they’ll even tell you nice areas to visit that stray a bit further from the hot spots. Quite often my favourite places have been found going a bit off the tracks.
Generally speaking it’s pretty easy to get around these days wherever you are in the world.
With companies like Uber, getting a taxi is cheaper than ever. But did you know there are lots of alternatives to Uber all over the world?
In Thailand, you can use ‘Grab’, in India they have ‘Ola’ as well as Uber, ‘Lyft’ is pretty big in the US, and ‘Didi Dache’ is also popular in China! And these are just a small selection of Uber alternatives.
The great thing about Ola in India is that you can even get an Ola rickshaw! So if you hate having to haggle down a decent price you can book through the Ola app. If you do like to haggle though, it’s great for getting an idea of how much you should be paying too.
Public transport of course is a great way to travel around too. Europe especially is pretty efficient, and there are options to get passes for unlimited use of public transport for a few days which is great if you’re on a city break!
But it’s not so easy in some countries. In India for example, booking a train online was one of the most complicated things I ever had to do! I spent more time trying to google what all the carriage names meant than actually booking the train. To make it easier for you, here’s a step-by-step guide to booking an Indian train.
Of course, a lot of hotels/hostels offer to book trains and buses for you but that’s not always an option.
So, I would suggest looking for country specific apps that make booking trains and buses a lot easier. For example, I used the IXIGO train app in India and it was a life saver! Here’s how to use the IXIGO app.
If you rely on the internet quite a lot, then it could be worth looking at hotspots!
Sometimes it’s nice to be cut off from the internet a bit when you’re on holiday. But if you’re a full-time traveller and rely on the internet for your income then having Wi-Fi is vital.
Luckily, there are some fantastic Wi-Fi hotspots available, varying in price. You can even rent ones if you don’t want to invest in one for yourself. Have a look at this article to see some popular options. Best Hotspots for Travellers.
8. Power Up
This might seem like a bit of an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times my portable charger has saved me!
I have so many booking confirmations and directions saved on my phone, and I’m really reliant on transport apps when travelling which eat into my phone battery, so definitely think about investing in a portable charger!
You can get some really cheap ones, but if you’re travelling with your partner or a family member, maybe think about paying a bit extra for one with multiple ports. I paid around £20 for mine and it’s been great, the battery lasts a long time too!
So that’s it! You’ve covered the boring side of the trip plans, now it’s time to plan what to do once you’re there… read our ultimate trip planning guide for some extra help.
But, why do we travel so much? Read these 5 reasons why more people are travelling the world than ever before.