Clever Travel Hacks & Tips That Expert Travelers Swear By

Monica Gray - March 20, 2023

Everyone loves a good travel hack. Not only will you save time, but it’s likely you’ll save money, stress, and headaches. That’s money, time, and energy you can use for other activities and excursions while you’re on your trip. You might think you already know the ins and outs of travel, but we’re here to share even more tips that you probably never thought of. We’ve curated a list of the best expert-like travel hacks that’ll make you a pro traveler in no time, with secret finds that aren’t so obvious. With small tweaks to your otherwise natural, comfortable travel routine, you’ll become a top pro with the best-kept travel secrets.

Thrifty Nomad

Search For Flights Using Private Browsing

As much as we don’t want to believe it, the prices of flights do fluctuate based on the cookies in our web browser. If you perform numerous searches for the same flight, the price will go up. That’s how they get you. If you use “incognito mode,” you can search for flights without having to worry about a price increase. The incognito mode hides your searches and cookies, so the website doesn’t “see” you. While some sources may claim this doesn’t work, others say it works like a charm (India Times).

The Mirror

Find Price Errors When Buying A Flight

When you’re trying to work or book a hotel, we often curse glitches. But sometimes, glitches on an airline’s website are your friend. This is the time the airline offers a ridiculously low fare on a flight. We’re talking cheaper than going out to dinner. If you sign up for airline sights, you can turn on notifications that will alert you of these price changes. The airline will typically fix these prices as fast as possible, so it’s important to act fast. Some websites include The Flight Deal or Holiday Pirates (Holiday Pirates).


Keep Your Blinds Closed With A Hanger

By using a clothing hanger, you can keep that annoying gap in your curtains closed. This prevents sunlight from leaking through and keeps you awake when you’re trying to nap and get rid of jetlag. It’s even worse if that sunlight wakes you up at the crack of dawn when you’re already sleep-deprived from traveling. The clothing hanger helps with this and is an easy way to reduce stress (Jetset Genius).

USA Today

Never Book The Best Room

World travelers know how to book hotel rooms, and it’s never how you think. Instead of booking the best room online, book a cheaper room. When you get to the hotel, ask them for an upgrade. If a room is available, they’ll usually upgrade you at no cost. You might get lucky! Another tip is to join the hotel’s loyalty program since they honor upgrade requests for members over nonmembers. You can also mention you’re there for a celebration and would appreciate any efforts for making the experience memorable. They might hand over a big bottle of champagne (Apartment Therapy).


Always Carry A Passport Photocopy In Your Wallet

It’s never a bad idea to have multiple copies of a passport photo with you. That way, if you lose your passport or it gets stolen, you have some form of identification with you. You’ll need it in case anything goes wrong. It’s also a good idea to have it in your wallet in case you lose your wallet. That way, it’s easily identifiable. It also provides first responders with your name, age, and country, should the worst-case scenario happen (Packing Light Travel).

Trip Savvy

Strategically Book Your Flight Seat

No one wants to sit middle seat, sit in a seat that doesn’t recline, or sit next to the bathroom on a flight. That’s why it’s so important to be strategic about your seat selection. When you’re booking your flight, oftentimes, you can choose your seat before you pay. If the airline wants you to pay, then you can wait until you show up at the airport and ask about choosing a seat when checking in. If you’re friendly enough, they’ll let you change your seat. Most of us are either aisle seat or window seat people. You can also use SeatGuru to see a seat map of the aircraft and reviews of the best, worst, and mediocre seats. Choose wisely, especially on longer flights (The Points Guy).


Use Revolut For Money Transfers

Revolut is a popular European banking app that’s now used in the USA. This is ideal if you’re traveling with people from a European country. You can easily exchange currencies from more than 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs around the world. Not only that, but if you owe someone money, you can easily transfer them the cash using the app. This gets rid of any stress of having to pay someone in a foreign currency (Revolut).


Call The Hotel For A Better Rate

Most websites, like Booking and Agoda, don’t give this travel hack because they don’t want you to know about it. If you call the hotel and ask them for a better rate, chances are, they’ll give it to you. You can score some sort of discount by calling the hotel. It’s also good for the hotel since they don’t have to give any commission to the website. You’ll be rewarded for your courage to call the hotel and ask for a better rate. And then, when you get there, use the other tip on this list and ask for a better room (Trip Savvy).


Bring An Empty Water Bottle To The Airport

This is a great travel hack for saving money. Water bottles at the airport cost more than $4. If you pack an empty water bottle, you can fill it up at a water fountain or sink, if you can drink the tap water where you are. You can even take it a step further and buy a foldable water bottle to roll up and save space in your bag. It’s not only good for your wallet, but it’s good for the environment, too (Healthy Human Life).


Strive For A Local Experience

Using sites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, you can get a local experience, more than you would if you booked a hotel. This is a fantastic way to get to know a country more and its locals, thus getting more out of your experience. We travel to experience new cultures, after all, so it only makes sense to meet a local by staying with them. The best part is that you’ll typically save a lot of money booking this way as opposed to a more expensive, luxury experience (Cheapest Destinations Blog).


Book A Tour With Airbnb

Airbnb also offers tons of city tours. It’s a great resource for things other than accommodation. Want to go on a coffee tour at a local coffee farm? Book a tour through Airbnb! Want to trek to a nearby volcano and eat local food at a family-owned restaurant? Airbnb has you covered. The company is slowly expanding to have more and more local experiences that’ll expand your experience as a whole. Better yet, you’ll go on tours you never even dreamed existed. Part of traveling involves being out of your comfort zone, and Airbnb has you covered (Airbnb).


Use A Clothespin For Your Toothbrush

As one of the best travel hacks out there, this one will increase the longevity of your toothbrush and prevent it from touching germs. Sinks in hotels and Airbnb that aren’t properly cleaned are notoriously dirty, so it’s important to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible. Use a cup or a clothespin to prop up your toothbrush. It’s a germaphobe’s dream come true (Creekline House).

Eagle Creek

Layovers Are Your Friends

It might not feel like it, but a 12+ hour layover, during the daytime, works in your favor. It’s an ideal way to see another city in an entirely new country. Make sure you plan. That way, you can pack your carry-on with a change of clothes needed to explore a city. Make sure you leave ample time for immigration and transport to the city. Indulge in a delicious meal, try the local beer, and explore a museum all before your next flight to your destination (World Packers).


Get A Travel Wallet

It can get pretty messy trying to keep track of all your boarding passes, passport photocopies, money, credit cards, license, and receipts. That’s why it’s important to invest in a good travel wallet to keep track of all of your most important documents. Travel wallets are inexpensive, and you don’t have to break the bank investing in a wallet to keep track of your monetary documents (Wanderers Way).


Use Other Sites For Cheap Flights

Expedia and Kayak aren’t the only websites in the world that offer cheap flights. Sky Scanner is a great website to use to find cheap flights. You don’t even have to specify the dates or destination, you can search from your departing airport and click “anytime” and “everywhere.” That sounds like a fantastic way to see the world without any plans! It’s a travel hack to giving yourself ultimate freedom to see the world, without stressing about too many plans (Escape).

Onwards and Upwards

Stay Hydrated On Long Flights

Drinking water on a plane is a good idea, but there’s also such a thing as drinking too much water. If you’re not taking in the right amount of electrolytes and salt, you’re just peeing out all the nutrients that keep you hydrated. It’s also annoying to get up and walk to the bathroom multiple times during a flight, especially if you’re stuck in the middle or window seat. To prevent this, use an electrolyte combination or Liquid IV. This will hydrate you 2-3 times faster than water alone. You won’t have to use the restroom as often and will feel a lot better than simply drinking water (CNN).

Jackson-Ville Journal Courier

Travel During The Shoulder Season

Shoulder season is the season just before and just after high season. It still offers great weather, without any of the crowds or prices that come with the high season. That means the destination is less busy and still very affordable. These seasons can vary depending on where you are in the world. Sometimes, the weather during the shoulder season is even better than the weather you’ll experience during the high season (Curly Tales).

The NY Times

Buy An External Battery

Traveling with an external battery saves you the headache of losing your phone battery on long-haul flights, trains, or buses. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a place, only to find out you can’t look at a map or contact your hotel because your phone is dead. This is one of the best ways to prevent unnecessary headaches and make sure your phone is always charged (The NY Times).


Enroll In The TSA-Precheck

This one’s a major game-changer. Not only will you save tons of time at the airport, but you’ll prevent any headaches from happening. If you travel more than a few times every year, then you’ll want to enroll in Clear or Global Traveler. It’s worth the investment. You can use separate, shorter lines for flights, you don’t need to take your shoes off, and you likely won’t have to wait in line for customs, and can instead use a machine that scans your passport. You’ll have to give your fingerprints and other personal information, but it’s worth the exchange. It’s expedited screening. No more dreading the long airport security lines! (Nerd Wallet).


Use Your Hotel Shower Cap

If you’re nervous about your liquids exploding in your bag, you can use wrap them in your hotel shower cap. That way, if they do explode, the shower cap will keep the liquids contained so they don’t go all over your bag. This prevents annoying spillages and the inevitable cleanups from happening. You can also use the plastic liner that comes in the hotel ice bucket or garbage bin. It’s a simple hack that saves a lot of hassle (Blue Ribbon Supply).

Flashpacking Family

Pack With Packing Cubes

Use packing cubes to organize your bag and clothing items. Stack these reusable fabric cubes to keep your bag clean and in place. That way, you can pack a lot more into your suitcase than you normally would. The space saved allows you to pack more things and keeps your bag light. No one wants to arrive at their destination and open their bag to a bunch of wrinkled, messy clothes (Carl Friedrik).


Download Google Maps Offline

This travel hack is a lifesaver. You can download Google Maps so you can use it to browse offline when you’re not hooked up to WiFi or mobile. Click “OK Map” on the area of the map you want to save and press download. If you specifically know which city or part of the country you’re traveling in, then this is a great way to make sure you always know where you’re going. You can even save favorites and starred places on Google Maps before you leave for your trip, so you can easily refer back to your map to see places of interest. Google Maps will also tell you how long it takes to drive, cycle, or walk certain places, making it easier to plan your travel days (Contiki).

Rick Steves Europe

Hire A Local Guide

One of the best ways to get a feel of the local land is to hire a local guide. They’ll be able to tell you all about the ins and the outs of the city or town and give you a truly local experience. These non-touristy recommendations are some of the best ways to see a place, without any of the tourist hotspots. A lot of the time, tourist spots are more expensive than the local places, so you’ll end up saving money in the long run (The Travel Insiders).

No Sleepless Nights

Use Noise Cancelling Headphones For Music, Sleep, And Airplanes

Noise-canceling headphones are a travel hack that serves a multitude of purposes. You don’t have to save noise-canceling headphones for the gym. These headphones work a myriad of wonders on a flight, especially if you’re trapped next to a screaming baby or chronic cougher. They’ll also get rid of the constant hum from the airplane’s engine. There’s nothing worse than listening to a horrible sound for the entire duration of your flight. You also use these headphones while you’re sleeping if you’re staying in a hostel dorm room and found yourself amongst a snorer. The noise-canceling headphones will get rid of the bad noise and bring in good tunes (Upgraded Points).

Travel Wanderlust

Roll Those Clothes Up

If you don’t have packing cubes, the next best travel hack is to roll your clothes. It’s completely free, so if you’re on a strict budget, then this tip is for you. You might be creating your eyebrows, but we’re telling you this works. Rolling them is a great way to keep your clothes wrinkle-free and organized. It’ll also save space in your bag, so you have more space. There are different methods to rolling your clothes that claim to be the best, but the best one seems to be Ranger Rolling (Travel and Leisure).

Condenast Traveler

Label Your Luggage As Fragile

World experts swear by this one. If you label your luggage as fragile, the airline will be extra careful with your luggage. That means it won’t be tossed around with the other suitcases and risk getting ripped or damaged. It’s worth labeling it as fragile even if it isn’t. Just tell them you have a mirror or a glass ornament, and that’s enough to get it labeled with a big fragile sticker (Flight Centre).


Travel With Only Carry-On

If you’re traveling for under a week, try and bring only a carry-on bag. This helps avoid lost baggage nightmares that leave you stranded and without clothes and toiletries. You’ll also save tons of money on added baggage fees! That’s money saved for adventures and good food. Traveling lightly also makes the trip a lot easier and more enjoyable, since you don’t have to spend time lugging items of baggage around (Pure Wow).


Wait To Change Money At An ATM

Don’t change your money right when you land at the airport. The best thing to do is to arrange with your bank and exchange it with them before you even leave for your trip. If you haven’t done that, then wait to go to an ATM near your hotel, in the middle of the city, for better exchange rates. Also, wait to change your money at a local exchange shop in the city. The airport money exchanges are total ripoffs. The airport might charge you anywhere from $5 to $15 to change money, so it’s always a better idea to just wait (CN Traveler).


Pack A Kindle

It might be tempting to pack a few books in your suitcase, but the only thing it’s going to do is weigh your bag down. To prevent this, invest in a kindle. You’ll have thousands of books, right at your fingertips. Not only that, but you can find virtually any book in the world. This prevents the hassle of having to search for a bookstore in a foreign city, only to find out they don’t have the book you want (Manchester Evening News).

Condenast Traveler

Use An Oversized Scarf As A Blanket

Oversized scarves are one of the best items to pack. They’re versatile and can be used in a myriad of ways. You can use an oversized scarf as a blanket, headdress, scarf, beach towel, and bath towel. They’re also easy to pack and can fit right into your suitcase without being too bulky (Real Simple).


Use Credit Card Points To Your Advantage

One of the best travel hacks for getting free flights is to use credit card points. The best way to do this is to open up a credit card that has a sign-up bonus. That bonus gives you tons of points you can access when purchasing flights. You can get pretty tactful using these points to your advantage. The more points you collect, the more expensive a plane ticket you can buy. You should also create a frequent flyer account on every airline you travel with. You’ll get valuable miles with certain airlines you can use for your next trips. Eventually, you’ll be traveling for free (Finance Buzz).

Sports & Games

Pack A Dry Bag

Having a dry bag on hand is a fantastic way to make sure your phone, passport, and camera stay dry in case you’re caught in a rainstorm. It’s also a good idea to pack a rain cover for your backpack or suitcase. We can’t control the weather, but we can control how we handle it. The dry bag and rain cover are completely waterproof and will keep your most important item dry (Dive In).


Pack A Pillowcase

Don’t pack a pillow, but do pack the case. If you’re ever in a situation where you need a pillow, you can stuff your sweaters and clothes into a pillowcase and use it as a pillow. You can also use a pillowcase to store certain items and keep them separate from other clothes, or use it to compress a puffy jacket to save space in your bag (Travel and Leisure).


Rent A Car

The best way to explore a city and its neighboring city is to rent a car. But don’t rent just any car, rent a car from a local. Websites like Turo connect you with local people who own cars and rent them for a fee, usually much less than what you would pay at a traditional car center. Not only will you save tons of money, but you can meet a local who’s probably very willing to give you the best tips and tricks for the area (Turo).

Baurfeind Canada

Wear Compression Socks

If you’re someone who suffers from swelling while on a flight, wear compression socks. Not only do they reduce swelling, but they help with circulation. It’s an ideal travel hack for flying comfortably and safely, by preventing blood clots. They work by providing various levels of pressure against your skin and help push blood back to your heart (Vein Institute of Westchester).

The NY Times

Invest In An Adaptor

An adaptor is important for traveling. When you go to a different country or continent, they’ll likely have different outlets. If you arrive and realize your plug doesn’t work in the outlet, you might be stuck without a phone. To prevent this issue, you can invest in a universal adaptor that works for any plug around the world. These adaptors have different sections for different parts of the world and can fit into different types of outlets (NY Times).


Use A Dryer Sheet For Your Clothes

This is the best hack in the book. A dryer sheet will make your clothes smell extra delicious, which is ideal on those long-haul trips. You wouldn’t want to open your bag and find a suitcase that smells like dirty socks. To prevent this, put a few dryer sheets around your suitcase. The smell will make your clothes smell extra delicious (She Buys Travel).