The Best Travel Hacks to Save You Money (and Sanity) on Your Next Trip
I may be a luxury traveler – but I’m definitely not a stupid traveler. While I love nice things, and splurging on five-star resorts, there is nothing I hate more than feeling like I’m not getting my money’s worth on a trip, or that I wasted money while traveling. We all know that, sometimes, traveling can be an extreme sport of going up against the system and just TRYING not to waste money along the way. So I wanted to compile some easy ways to make sure you’re spending your money on the right things – so we can all travel MORE, and better. These are my tried-and-true best travel hacks that might just blow your mind – and definitely save you money, and sanity while traveling.
Always search for flights in a private browser
Always, always use an incognito browser when browsing flights! Also, try setting your currency to a different country on Skyscanner, or using a VPN from a different country. You’d be surprised how much it can make a difference in flight prices that come up. Although beware that if you do this, sometimes the cheaper prices are for sites that exist in that country – I’d definitely recommend booking with the airline or a booking site like Expedia, Booking, or Vayama over something foreign that may not be reliable.
Always bring a reusable water bottle
Don’t pay for water!!!! In Europe, you’re hit with 8 euro water bottle costs, but there are actually safe and sanitary water fountains throughout places like Rome, or at the very least you can fill it up at your hotel before going out for the day (you’ll often find amazing fruit-infused water in hotel lobbies!). In Bora Bora, water is free all day but they’ll charge you for a bottle at dinner. On the airplane, you’re naturally dehydrated and parched, and there’s absolutely nothing worse than when you wake up on a red-eye with no water in sight. I always keep a reusable water bottle on me at all times when I’m traveling. (I swear by this one.)
Pack some in-flight essentials
I have a cute little Stoney Clover flying kit that I pack with a face sheet mask, eye cream (I like the mini size of this one), moisturizer for my hands and face ( you get SO dry while flying!), makeup remover/face wash, vitamin C (from my favorite brand, this one), a travel face mask, and some liquid IV and liquid IV SLEEP to stay hydrated and/or sleep if I’m on a long haul flight.
Leverage the Best Travel Credit Card Rewards and Offers
Using the right travel credit card will help save a TON of money while traveling – and even set you up for awesome benefits (like paying for an entire trip using your rewards or upgrading your flight to first class on points – like Kenny and I did for our upcoming honeymoon to the Maldives!). There’s no better feeling than feeling like when you’re spending money that you would anyway, you’re actually investing toward your future travel experiences. This is probably the greatest travel hack of all time, so if you don’t already have one or multiple of the big name travel reward cards – what are you waiting for??
Read my post on the Best Travel Reward Credit Cards, or check out my list of favorites on CreditCards.com here.
That feeling when you paid for an entire trip to Bora Bora on credit card points!
TSA Pre-check, Global Entry and Clear
These three travel hacks are absolute game-changers for frequent travelers, and something worth investing in 100 percent. (Also, you get a credit for global entry and pre-check if you have the Platinum Card® from American Express!) *Terms Apply.
So what is the difference between TSA precheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR? Here’s the breakdown:
- TSA Pre-check lets you use a separate line for domestic flights in the USA, and you don’t have to take off your shoes or take out your laptop of your bag – which for any business traveler or remote worker like me, is a TOTAL blessing.
- Global Entry is for US citizens on international flights. When you’re returning to the US from abroad, you scan your passport and skip the line at customs. This can sometimes be a few HOURS saved, and usually is. I’ve never been happier to have global entry than I am when I fly through Miami (that customs line is ALWAYS 3+ hours long). Every time I skip the line and head straight to the Amex lounge, I feel so relieved I have it.
- Clear is like pre-check plus – and it lets you scan your fingertips at security and get escorted to the front of line at the airports where it is offered (most of the large US ones).
Download the Google Translate app for foreign travels
You can use the Google Translate app to take photos of text in another language, and it will translate it for you in seconds. It’s AMAZING. I use it all the time for Spanish in Colombia.
- Keep your itinerary simple, and with one airline
- Use a smart luggage tag
- Check in early
- Consider shipping things instead of checking them (especially important things, like your wedding dress if you’re planning a destination wedding!)
And never, ever pack these 5 things in your checked bag.
If something does happen, check out my article on What to Do if The Airline’s Lost Your Bag, you can get a TON of money back for lost luggage (even if it’s only gone 24 hours), especially if you have travel insurance.
Pack some wine
I always pack wine in my checked bag for a vacation – it’s a great way to save money on astronomical resort prices of decent-at-best wine, and an excuse to open some of my favorite wines, and I always end up associating those wines with the trips I drink them on! For our recent trip to Bora Bora, we packed 6 bottles of our own wine, which was amazing, given the expensive resort prices of food and drinks in French Polynesia!
Also be sure to use these wine sleeves so the bottles don’t break in your bag! I reuse them over and over.
Don’t exchange money at the airport
The airport is always the worst exchange rate! Wait until you’re in town to exchange foreign currency, and look for a place with zero commission (and a better rate than what you saw in the airport). Your taxi driver will often know a good spot, too.
Travel with a (chic) fanny pack
The convenience (and safety) of having all of your passport, boarding pass, phone, money and credit cards right around your waist is the best while traveling. It’s also so comfortable, and so cute! This is my favorite one I use all the time, especially when traveling Europe.
Beat Jet Lag
There are a few things I SWEAR by when it comes to beating jet lag. One is adjusting to your new time zone RIGHT AWAY. Even if you flew across the world to Bali and it’s morning there and night at home, as much as you want to, you cannot nap!!! Also, get active as soon as you can. Go for a walk around town, hike, anything to get active and break a sweat – it helps so much. And, of course, HYDRATE!! Drink a ton of water while flying, and when you arrive to your destination.
Keep Your iPhone Photos Organized
Do you guys see how many photos I have on my phone? It’s insane. I’ve had an iphone since I was 16, and I take A LOT of photos. I always save my favorites to an album from each trip, so I can refer back to that album versus have to scroll through thousands and thousands of photos.
Pack healthy snacks!
Don’t rely on airplane food or random quick-marts in your destination for your hunger pangs. For every trip, I always have a ‘snack bag’ full of healthy snacks that I’ll eat on the plane, and then also have handy for once I’m at my destination to keep hunger at bay in-between meals. This also saves money! Especially if you’re traveling somewhere like Maldives or Bora Bora where a quick snack can suddenly be $100.
My favorite: These almond butter packets – they’re the perfect size, so handy, and easy to travel with. Plus almond butter is my go-to snack anytime I get hungry but I don’t want a full meal yet.
Seat Guru is awesome because you’re able to type in your exact flight and see the airplane map of each and every seat, so you can see which seats recline, which are close to the bathroom (sometimes that’s noisy and gets in the way of your sleep if you’re on a redeye), which are in the emergency row and have extra legroom, etc. etc.
Save your hotel keys!
Or your plane tickets, or whatever you like to collect from your travels! I always save our hotel keys from around the world. I have a HUGE collection now from all of our favorite resorts around the world. Someday, I want to use Framebridge to arrange and frame them all for me —they’ll even send you an envelope to mail in your items! So easy!
Invest in a great suitcase
Hard-sided suitcases will get less damage (my favorite brand by a mile is ROAM) , but also look for well-designed handles on the bag! The best bags to get are the ‘spinners’ with four wheels on the bottom (like ROAM’s), because handlers don’t have to throw them like they do other bags, they can easily glide the bag down the belly of the plane.
Mark your bag fragile
This sneaky hack will make sure your bag is handled with care (thank god!!) and often puts your bag at the top of the batch, meaning it comes out first!
Always bring a power adaptor
Use Google Maps offline
Obviously you can’t always have a good WiFi connection while you’re out exploring the world!! Not all that much happens in a Starbucks, after all. The good news is that you can download Google maps offline for your abroad travels – gamechanger!!!
Use packing cubes!
When it comes to packing for any vacation, packing cubes are a MUST! Seriously, you don’t realize how much these little cubes keep you organized while traveling until you try them. Not to mention keep your laundry separate from all your other clothes. They are the best!!!! These are my favorite ones, and they’re on sale here!
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
Sony’s WH1000-XM3’s are the absolute best quality noise-cancelling headphones out there, and my LIFESAVER for surviving long flights. They completely cancel out noise (let’s say, a baby crying in the row next to you when you’re on a redeye), and also adjust to the level of noise-canceling to whatever you want, depending on where you are. They last 30 hours one a single battery and a quick 15-minute charge will give you two and a half hours more of battery life.
ALWAYS ask for an upgrade
It doesn’t hurt to ask. Whether you’re on your honeymoon, or just traveling with friends or family, always ask about any available upgrades. A little kindness can go a long way! It worked for us at all three resorts we stayed in Bora Bora!
And check out my other related blog posts here: