Our 19 Favorite Summer Travel Hacks

Airplane graphic with text Summer Time TRAVEL SECRETS OF THE PROS

Maybe you travel a lot for business.

Or maybe you’ve got that summertime itch to escape. Ah, summer! Just look at it. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, the smell of BBQ wafts through your open windows, and, as predictably as the seasons come and go, the nearby airport is a living, chaotic hell.

But that is okay. That is just fine. Because, let’s face it, you’re going to escape no matter what it takes. You are a trooper. You are patient. You are determined. You have earned this time off, and that is the end of the story.

We like your attitude.

And we want to help.

We’ve scoured the best travel websites (special thanks listed below), researched frequent flyer forums, talked to experts, even done a fair bit of traveling ourselves, and along the way we’ve accumulated a list of the best, most reliable travel hacks we could find, and now we pass them on to you, with our blessings.

These are the tricks and techniques of the pros. They’ll make life a lot happier and save you time, stress, and money, and the best part is, they’re really easy.

1. Clear your browser’s cookies.

Booking websites want to know how many times you’ve looked for a deal, so they store your browser’s cookies. This allows them to show you higher prices for you take the bait. Foil their efforts. Clear your cookies or use your browser in incognito mode.

2. Monitor airfares 24/7

If you’re shopping for rates, remember, they change practically by the hour. Happily, you can track your airfare around the clock, receiving alerts every time it changes. When the price is right, you can book. Websites like Skyscanner and Yapta make it easy.

3. Tuesdays are magic.

If you buy your ticket on a Tuesday afternoon, you might save some money. That’s when airlines lower their rates so they can fill up their cabins.

4. Pack as little as possible.

Obvious, sure, but possibly the #1 travel hack of all time.

5. Do not check bags.

If you can get away without having to check a bag, you’ve got a major win. You’ll sail through security and you won’t have to wait for baggage when you arrive, which means beating all those other nitwits to the cabs. You won’t have to shlep around a lot of stuff, and you’ll even save money on checked baggage fees.

6. Mark your bags as fragile.

Your bag will receive a preferred spot in cargo and it’ll be one of the first bags to come down the chute.

7. Make your bags stand out, in a happy way.

If you want to spot your bag fast on that carousel, prevent confusion, and discourage thieves, make it stand out from the crowd. You can use a small scarf, colorful tags, a helpful luggage belt, vintage luggage stickers, bright tape, decals, paint, and anything else that will help you mark your bags as yours and yours alone.

8. Keep a copy of your itinerary and important ID documents in the cloud.

In the event someone snatches your belongings, these are the critical items you must have immediately. Put them in Evernote, store them on iCloud or Dropbox, email them to yourself, however you do it, this step is a lifesaver (which hopefully you will never need to find out for yourself).

9.Get an extra hour of free Wi-Fi.

If you’re sitting in a free Wi-Fi zone and your time is up, roll back the clock in your phone.

10. Tell First Entertainment and your credit card companies you’re traveling.

One of the best benefits of your First Entertainment credit card is that it comes with multiple layers of protection, including Automated Fraud Detection. If you let us know you’re traveling, and if you wish, the names of places where you plan on spending money, it could prevent the automated fraud detection from unnecessarily kicking in when it spots unusual spending patterns and amounts.

11. Bring multiple payment methods.

You want to be prepared for every scenario. Make sure you bring cash, your credit or debit card, even local currency (before you buy local currency near home, check the exchange rate here and at your destination to see which is most favorable).

Even better, we can help you plan for international travel with our popular foreign currency service – the most convenient, safest and secure method of purchasing foreign currency for 100+ countries without paying the exorbitant fees found in airports, hotels and currency exchange outlets throughout the world.

12. Put your electrical gizmos in a waterproof bag.

All those chargers and batteries and cables and whatnots. Makes ‘em easy to find.

13. Bring a good eye mask and earplugs.

Need a good night’s sleep on that 14-hour flight? Need to shut-out a noisy hotel neighbor? Want Zen-like silence while you work in that busy café? A comfortable, well-made eye mask and really good earplugs are essential. Our favorite earplugs are made by Etymotic and we recommend them highly. They’re comfortable and work beautifully.

14. Set up Google Maps to work offline.

One of our favorite tips! If you’re going abroad where you may not have Internet, or you’re planning on spending money on data just to be able to navigate, here is your solution. It works for both iOS and Android devices:

• Launch Google Maps (make sure you have the latest version) and search for the place you want to map.

• Google will show you the result with the name of the location at the bottom of the screen. Tap on the name.

• Now, tap on the three-dot icon in the top right corner of your screen.

• Select “Save Offline Map”.

• Adjust the pan and zoom until you’re happy with it. Then, tap on “Save” and give your map a name.

To access your saved maps, click on the three-horizontal-bars icon which lives in the upper left corner of the same white rectangle as the search area.  Tap on “Your Places”, then scroll to the bottom of the screen, which is where you’ll find a list of all your saved maps. Fun fact: Your saved maps have a shelf like of 30-days. After that, Google deletes them, presumably to clear space on your device.

15. Charge your USB devices through the hotel television.

Forget your adapter? Walk over to your hotel’s TV, and most likely, it’ll have input ports in the back that’ll work just fine.

16. Use a currency convertor on your phone.

Very handy when planning and shopping. You might also save yourself from getting overcharged. One of our favorite iPhone currency exchange apps is XE Currency Exchange. It has paid for itself 20 times over.

17. Grab a cab from the departures zone.

Just arrived to a monumental line? Head over to departure drop-off. All the cabs will be dropping people off and heading back to town, so there’s no competition. You might even be able to negotiate a lower rate. Doesn’t work at every airport terminal, but when it does it’s genius.

18. Collapsible cloth boxes are great organizers.

They can make managing your suitcase a joy instead of an experiment in human patience.

19. Sign-up for Global Entry.

If you travel frequently, you want this. It makes getting through customs a breeze. No removing laptops, taking off of shoes, no interrogation at immigration. And it’s easy to apply:

Sign up here for Global Entry.

The author would like to credit TripAdvisor and Lifehack for providing the foundation for this article. Both sites feature greatly expanded tips and a lot of information we didn’t have room for.

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