I love a good travel hack. Anything that makes the travel experience easier or more enjoyable is definitely worth doing. I’ve read a lot of different hacks over the years, some of them more complicated than others (I’m looking at you frequent flyer miles), but have found it’s usually the simplest advice that is most needed and most overlooked.
Booking.com recently surveyed more than 15,000 travellers about their travel tips and experience, and has compiled a list of essential travel hacks based on the feedback.
1. Book the holiday you want, not the one you think you should be going on
You are never too old or too young to visit a new city, go backpacking or venture out alone. It is never as challenging as you think it will be – do what you want to do.
2. Check if you require a Visa (and passport) well ahead of departure
I got burned by this one recently. There’s nothing like realising your passport has less than six months validity two weeks before travelling. Some Visas require more time and money than others, so make sure to check the relevant Government website. The same applies for passports. Check your passports expiration date well before you travel – certain countries require at least six months validity in order to enter. Booking.com research found that 24% of travellers would even recommend carrying your passport with you for the entire trip*
3. Photograph essential documents
Take photos of your passport, visa and travel insurance information and print them out (or email them to yourself) in case you lose them. It’s better to be prepared than to find yourself in a sticky situation without any identification.
4. Stash some cash in case of emergency
Always stash away some cash (and resist temptation to spend it) or a spare debit or credit card in the hotel safe in case of an emergency. Split your money in different pockets; if you lose your wallet you’ll always have a back up. Over one in ten (13%) travellers cited a secret stash of cash as one of the most important tips for those planning their first trip according to Booking.com research*
5. Learn the lingo (or cheat with an app)
If you don’t speak the local language, a helpful trick is to download Google Translate to your mobile phone. It will take away the pain of wild gestures and raised voices. You might also want to consider learning a few key phrases before you head out, especially words to help navigate travel, bookings and menus.
6. Pack less than you’ll need
This goes against all that parental advice about taking a change of clothes for every day, but it’s true. Always pack less than you think you will need, because chances are you’re overthinking things and probably won’t use it all. At least two days before you go, lay everything out on the bed that you think you will need, then put away 30%. Pack layers and put comfort first, especially when it comes to shoes! According to Booking.com research, 18 per cent of travellers regretted packing too much*
7. A little research goes a long way
Research local scams to watch out for, whether it’s particular tour companies to avoid or how to get a reputable taxi from the airport. Booking.com research reveals that 21% of first time travellers feel researching local safety advice is an important part of any holiday prep*. If you get into real trouble, the international emergency number is 112 – even if the phone is locked or it’s not showing any reception.
*Research carried out by Booking.com between 11th – 30th January, surveying 15,077 travellers across 20 markets worldwide
What do you think? Do you have any tried and tested travel tips?