Ah, travelling–no one ever gets it right the first time round. Or the second or third or fourth for that matter. The ins and outs of being a successful backpacker or world explorer generally only come with experience, that is unless someone else can let you in on the tricks of the trade. So you better sit up and take note of these simple travel hacks, because they’re sure to make you a more efficient and successful traveller.
1. Go incognito when looking for flights
Private browsing is a godsend when looking for and booking flights, because (apparently) many sites will hike up the prices if they see you’ve visited before. Sneaky.
2. Check airline socials for promo codes and discounts
You never know when they’ll be pumping out the promotions, so always check airlines’ Facebook and Twitter pages to see who’s got the best deals on before booking.
3. If travelling in a pair, book the window and aisle seat
Leaving the middle seat (aka. the worst seat) empty when you book means people will be less likely to choose to sit there, thus more chance of getting the whole row to yourselves. And if it does get booked, simply ask to switch so you can sit next to your mate. No harm done.
4. Roll your clothes
Rolling your clothes saves space! Use hair ties to keep everything together, because you never know when you need more of those. Fill your shoes with socks too and try and avoid shoving the most important things (like undies) at the very bottom of your bag.
5. Save an empty drink bottle
When you head through security at the airport, you're not allowed to take a full water bottle though and it might get taken off you. Carry an empty one and then fill it up on the other side of security to bring on the plane. You're always dehydrated on a long haul flight, so make sure you're prepped and don’t have to spend unnecessary dollars on a bottle of water (they'll charge a mint if you're flying budget).
6. Mark your bag as ‘fragile’
Your bag is more likely to be treated with the respect it deserves if you stick some fragile tape around it. It’s also more likely to be first off the conveyer-belt at the baggage claim, so it’s a double win.
7. Always bring a deck of cards
The benefits of this are two-fold. They’re great for killing time on long plane/train/bus/ferry rides, and they’re a great way to break the ice when meeting new people. Game of King’s Cup anyone?
8. Pack a bike lock for flexible security
While a padlock is always handy (and saves you from having to rent one at the hostel), packing a bike lock can be even handier for those hostels that don’t have lockers. You can lock your zippers together, and the bag to the bed in one go.
9. Bring your student card for attraction discounts
Many tourist attractions, museums and galleries will offer discounts for students, and big ones at that. So don’t forget that student card, even if you have an old one from high school it’s worth bringing along just in case.
10. Missing your phone charger? Check lost property
Hostel and hotel lost properties are often a treasure trove for different phone chargers. Check it out before forking out the cash for a new one.
11. Bring a power board and be everyone’s best friend
When you’re staying in a room with ten or more people, you can almost guarantee there won’t be enough power points for everyone’s phones/cameras/laptops/kindles/etc. Bring a power board with multiple points and you’ll be everyone’s favourite dorm member.
12. Download offline Google maps
Google Maps lets you download maps of cities while you're in wifi so you can use 'em offline when you're out and about for the day–much better than spending the money on roaming or having to find free wifi every time you want to find a particular landmark.
13. Take photos of your important travel documents and receipts
This is so important if your belongings get stolen and you need to claim on your travel insurance. Plus it can save you space from packing folders of receipts and travel docs. Most travel insurance policies will require you to provide a proof of purchase if you want to claim for lost electronics or expensive items, so do yourself a favour and make back ups as well!
14. Learn the basic phrases of every language you encounter
Even if English is commonly spoken, it’s polite to learn the basics in a country’s native tongue. People will generally be friendlier and more inclined to help you out if you’ve made the effort and you might even experience better customer service. Simple phrases like ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, and ‘please’ may be all you need to get by, but ‘do you know where…?’ and ‘may I please have…?’ are always good ones to have in the bank too.
15. Ditch the travel guides and ask the locals
Travel guides are good to get you started, but they’ll often only provide information about the most popular tourist attractions and won’t give you the chance to experience the local secrets. Try and chat to locals or other travellers about the hidden gems and alternative locations, foods and activities of the area to get the real feel for a culture.