TRAVEL HACKS FOR THE SMART TRAVELER
When traveling as often as I do, I’ve figured out some tricks and travel hacks for packing, flights and how to get free stuff! You learn from your mistakes, right? That’s at least how it was for me. Endless over-packing and booking the wrong kind of flight ticket. So instead of you making all the mistakes I’ve done, I thought I would share my learnings on beforehand.
I usually pack waaay to much. Over the years I’ve learned how to pack just the right amount of stuff, and also what is useless to bring with me.
Dress for the weather! Russia April 2016
Checked in luggage
Always check with the airline how much weight you can check in. Usually the more “expensive” airlines, such as Qatar and Emirates allow a bit of overweight for free. You can count on 1 extra kilo (sometimes they allow even more). The airlines calculate the weight so that if you’re allowed 23 kgs, you may bring a bag of 23,9 kgs without any troubles. This does not apply to the cheaper airlines like Ryanair and Norwegian though.
If I already know that my bag is overweight I always show up early to the airport in case there are any issues checking in. Invest in a Travel Scale so that you always know how much you can pack. I bring it with me to the destination so that I can weigh my bags with all my souvenirs in it 😉
Some airlines will also allow you two checked bags! (usually on long-haul flights). This does not mean that you can bring one overweight bag though. There’s a reason behind it, and that’s because they don’t want to brake any backs of the airport staff. So be sure to divide your things into two bags!
If I have overweight on my checked in bag (usually on my way home from a trip), I always fill up my hand luggage with heavy things, such as shoes, chargers, books etc. I also always carry a big black (makes it look smaller) handbag as it is less likely that they will weigh a handbag compared to a cabin bag on wheels. But don’t forget you cannot put any liquids over 100ml in your checked in luggage! Some countries will also not allow any external chargers or lighters in your hand luggage (especially in Asia). Check with the staff when you check in!
Smart things to always bring
– Universal travel adapter. I use THIS one, which is great as it’s fairly small and has two USB plugs.
– Power strip. This is great as you will only have to have one travel adapter, but charge multiple items at once.
– Eye mask, earplugs, socks, hoodie, sarong or small blanket. You will be happy to have these things on a long-haul flight.
– Power bank. This is a life saver as you will be able to charge your phone etc. But check with the airline if it’s allowed to bring in your hand luggage!
– hand sanitizer, toothbrush, face cream, makeup wipes, makeup. I always travel without makeup on!
– one set of clothes and a bikini (for tropical destinations). Just in case the airline looses your bag!
– keep your valuables in your hand luggage (cameras, computer, jewelry)
Do NOT bring
– more clothes than you will need (I’m an expert in over-packing)
– liquids over 100ml in your hand luggage
– too many bikinis (always my struggle)
I love bringing floaties to tropical destinations! This is IOC coding retreat in Bali July 2016
On the flight
Before your trip, contact the airline if you need any special meal request. They have all sorts of special meals, and I always order special meals as they are fresher (cooked in smaller batches) and you will get it before everyone else.
Just keep in mind to inform the staff if you change your seat, as the meal will only be marked with your seat number. Personally, I always order an Asian vegetarian meal or a vegan meal (depending on airline). Because the air is so dry on flights, I also always bring several bottles of water (you will only get a small glass of water on the flight) and some snacks (and vitamins to stay healthy). Also keep in mind that you may bring an empty water bottle through security. There’s usually water points where you can fill up your bottle (cost efficient!).
In the airport, there is a possibility that you will get a free upgrade to business class. You need to be smart about it and either say that you are hurt and would appreciate a seat with more legroom or just ask straight out if you could get an upgrade. It will help if you are business dressed and if you’re extra nice to the staff. In my experience, it’s usually easier to get an upgrade with American airlines, than European ones.
When on the flight, get comfy! Put on warm socks, blankets, and take out all the things you need by your seat, before placing other things in the overhead compartment. Do i sound like a flight attendant yet?
Searching for flights
This is something I get asked A LOT! How to find cheap flights??
I have some tricks to find the cheapest flights.
First of all, use Momondo.com. Not only is the website very user friendly, but it’s also where I find the cheapest flights. You get ratings (1-10) of the trip based on flight time and price, and I rarely book a flight with ratings under 7/10. Second best website is Skyscanner, not as userfriedly, but you can find cheap flights.
I find that it’s easier to find cheap flights on Tuesday nights, but this is of course not always true. I always check flights every day for about 1-2 weeks before I book anything. Then I will see if the price increases or drops. What is also really important is: delete your browser history after each search! Travel sites and airlines increase the price after each search since it looks like you are really interested in the trip and prepared to pay a bit more for your ticket.
A really smart site is Secret Flying. You can find super cheap error fares to dream destinations. You need to be flexible with dates, but you may also find exactly what you are looking for! Isn’t it part of the charm not to know where or when you are going? At least for me, it is!
Sometimes I take advantage of long layovers. E.g. When flying to Bali I had 13 layovers (!) there and back. This because the price was the double for half of the layovers. So I decided to make a trip out of it! I added some more days at the destinations (through Momondos Multi-city search) and planned activities in each city.
Bali has a lot of cool stuff to offer! Photo props for this day at the rice fields was a funky hat
I hope you find these tips useful for your future travels!
I will continue adding more content to this post!