Make your travels easier and cheaper with these tips straight from the experts…
I asked fellow travel bloggers if they could share their very best tips and tricks for making travel easier, cheaper or more convenient. Here are the excellent travel hacks they came back with:
Agness Walewinder of eTramping
Travel tips for female travelers
- Remove your daily make-up using hot green tea. There is no need to carry make-up remover and you can drink the tea afterwards
- Keep your hair bands and hair clips handy in tic tap containers.
Travel tips for everyone
- Wrap your leg or hand with a bandage and pretend to be disabled when crossing the border in Asia. You’ll avoid the queue without any problems. (Note: this refers to Cez of eTramping being legitimately disabled in Asia for a while – Marek.)
- Place your underwear and socks in trekking shoes to save space in your backpack.
See also: How we packed for a month of travel
Chris of Lessons Learned Abroad
Wear Adventure Underwear
These underpants with hidden compartments will be of use to anyone tired of wearing a money belt (like myself!). For men only, alas, and not cheap — but for a wayward traveller who might be a target of muggings/pick pockets, a worthwhile investment. (See Chris’ review of Adventure Underwear here.)
A truly advanced way of keeping your belongings safe. (Photo by Lessons Learned Abroad)
Save on fees with Global ATM Alliance
Avoid ATM fees by signing up for a bank that has arrangements with other banks around the globe. Fees add up- save your money! You can find a list of these banks here.
Get a carry-on size bag
Buy a backpack that can fit as carry on. 40L is generally your maximum size, and that is big enough for most RTW trips, anyway. It will mean you can’t bring certain things aboard the plane (knives, toothpaste, lighters, and the standard no-fly gear) but it will save you the hassle of losing a bag. Trust me, it is a hassle.
Charlie of Charlie On Travel
Sleep for free with Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a little bit mustard – some people love it, and some hate it. I fall firmly into the “love” category. Couchsurfing is a social networking website that connects travellers and hosts around the world; mostly the site is used for finding a bed (or couch) for the night, but you can arrange anything from a local meet-up to a language exchange.
There are two awesome things about Couchsurfing: 1) It’s free! 2) You get to stay with a local.
Sleep for free with House Sitting
This travel hack takes a lot of work and dedication to achieve. Unlike Couchsurfing where you can just log-in and send a request, house sitting involves a certain kind of person who isn’t just looking for a free sleep. Sure, a house sitting job provides accommodation, but it’s not free.
House sitting is an exchange: you take care of someone’s home and often their pets, and you are provided with a place to stay whilst you travel, a way to immerse yourself in a different community and you get to enjoy having some temporary furry friends around too! Of course, caring for someone’s home and often their pets is an huge responsibility and not one that you or they take lightly.
House sitting in Costa Rica (photo: Charlie on Travel)
Jules and Christine of Don’t Forget To Move
Preload Google Maps on your phone
A technology trick that we always use on our travels is turning our iPhone into a free GPS device, even when we were out of wifi in the most remote of places. We found if we preloaded our next location when we were in a wifi zone, even after we left the hostel, our ‘current location’ tracker would still update along the map.. When sitting on a dodgy chicken buses passing through San Pedro Sula, or catching a taxi around the backstreets of Managua, it was nice to know we were headed in the right direction.
Traveling with herbs and spices
As vegetarians and budget backpackers we always find it easier to cook for ourselves on the road. That’s why we never hit the road without a small container full of different dried herbs and spices to help add flavor to our food. If we get stuck somewhere with little vegetarian options at least we can always cook a delicious meal. Local markets usually sell small packets of cumin, paprika, basil and all other exciting combinations to help spice up those bland veggies.
Herbs and spices at a market in Guatemala (Photo: Don’t Forget To Move)
Deia of Nomad Wallet
Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fee
Use it for as many transactions as possible when you travel. Credit cards generally have the best exchange rates and safety features, compared to other payment methods. Here’s a list of some of the best credit cards for international travel for Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders.
Always pay in local currency
If you’re abroad and someone offers you the option to pay with your credit card in your home currency, say no. Always pay in the local currency, wherever you are. Otherwise, you could be charged 2%-7% for this unnecessary “service”. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and you can read more about it here.
Jasmin of JLT Travel Log
Travel with a sarong
Always bring along a sarong when traveling. This is an advice to both female and male travelers. A sarong can save your day in so many ways! For
- Be the wrap around you when feeling cold inside a bus/flight/boat
- Cover your sun burnt areas when being outdoors without shade
- Transform into an instant dress or a towel
- Be your underlay or your blanket or a rolled up pillow
As well as it dries up quickly, takes little space and weights almost nothing.
Bring pure lavender oil
When traveling, always carry a small 30ml bottle ‘pure lavender essential oil’ (100%) – This amazing natural oil, will be your little aid kit for many things:
- When getting cuts/wounds/bites (This oil will heal and prevent infection) Drop 1-2 drops only, at the area itself.
- When getting sun burnt or skin rash – mix 1-2 drops lavender oil with aloe Vera gel and gently apply to the area. (This will soothe and calm down irritation/burn/rash)
- The oil is also good when you are feeling sick, tired or tense – The smell itself is not only nice but also calming/relaxing.
Bring along a string and clothes pins/clips
You’ll always be prepared when you need to do your own quick handwash laundry, anywhere at anytime. It doesn’t take up much space and will be useful for rainy days or laundry to dry.
Invest in a micro travel towel
They are light, absorbs very well, takes very little space, dries super fast and are relatively big (like a normal towel). Can be bought/found @ outdoor/active sports/travel/army stores, mine cost $25.00 and it was totally worth it.
Brenden of Worldy View
Save on your laundry costs
Instead of paying for laundry on site you can also clean your clothes by:
Laundromat – likely wherever you’re staying there will be nearby laundromat’s if you’re staying in somewhat of a major city.
Using a sink or bathtub – using laundry detergent or soap you can use a sink or a bathtub to clean your clothes. Simply plug the drain with the drain plug or a sock and you’re good to go.
Marek of IndieTraveller
Finally, I’ll chip in with a few travel tips as well…
Hide your money in a belt holster
I’m not a big fan of money belts as they are quite large and obvious. An alternative solution I found is to use a small belt holster with your paper money folded up inside. This system recently passed the test with flying colours in Rio de Janeiro, where I got robbed but only lost about a dollar in loose change as they didn’t find my bank notes.
Set up Dropbox or a similar service
I have heard far too many stories of people losing all their photos in some kind of accident. If you are going to travel for a while you really need to take proper back-ups. It’s so easy these days with cloud services that there’s really no excuse…
Protect blisters with duct tape
If you’ve got any blisters, put a bandaid on the blister and then duct tape over it. It works like a charm and is also water proof.
Stay organized with zip-lock bags
A great way to keep your clothes organized is to put them in zip locks, i.e. all shorts in one, all bathing suits in another, and so on. It not only keeps things organized, it also helps keep any stinky odours quarantined!
Thanks to Jennie, Sarah and Kate for these last two tips. They shared many tips with me in Guatemala and wanted to be credited for a while… well, here you go girls! 😉