Traveling is supposed to be pleasurable, so when then can it feel so complicated at times? Over the years we have refined some of our techniques to make our trips run as smoothly as possible. Here are our top travel tips to make your travels as easy as pie in 2017:
1. Only pack what you can lift
Do you really want to be that person struggling up the stairs and constantly asking for help? Just make it easier for yourself (and others) by packing what you can actually carry.
2. Pack at the last minute
Last minute isn’t always a bad thing. The more time you give yourself to pack, the more time you have to add useless stuff to your bag. We always do laundry during the week and pack the night before.
3. Only pack what you really need
No what if’s or just in cases. Just pack for the best case scenario: If the forecast says there is a slight chance of showers, don’t bring that bulky raincoat. Worst case, use the rain shower as down time for lunch or a coffee in a local café.
4. You only need 4 items to get to your destination
Before leaving, we only double check 4 items. Anything else can be forgotten!
- Life-saving medication
5. Pack a capsule wardrobe
The idea is that all of the clothes you pack match each other, allowing for numerous combinations of outfits! The Golden Girl wrote an excellent piece on this idea.
6. Long-haul: Put a day’s clothes in your hand luggage
When travelling long-haul, take an extra t-shirt and spare underwear in your hand luggage. If your case gets lost, you won’t want to be wearing the same thing for 3 days.
7. Take double the amount of medication you need
If you depend on life-saving medication like Insulin, take the double of what you really need and split it between bags. If cases get lost, or worse stolen, the cost of replacing it is not worth thinking about. We speak from experience!
Travelling on low-cost airlines with cabin luggage only
8. Only buy solid toiletries
Solid toiletries are not only use less packaging, they don’t need putting in clear resealable plastic bags at the airport. We buy the majority of our toiletries from Lush or organic shops and store them in a case we got from a DIY store.
9. Ditch the toiletry bag
If you don’t use solid products, you will need to put all liquids in a see-through plastic bag when going through airport security. We think it’s easier to use that as your main toiletry and make-up bag, rather than transfer to a cloth bag later.
10. Include the wheels in your luggage dimensions
Most travellers make the mistake of forgetting the wheels in luggage dimensions. Low-cost airlines do check the size of your luggage and charge offenders big money. Our experience shows that they often check on flights with spare seats (probably to make up costs).
11. You only need 1 pair of shoes
If you’re only travelling with hand luggage, just take 1 pair of shoes. An extra pair will simply take up too much space in your small case/bag. After all, how many pairs do you really need for a weekend trip?
12. Don’t pay to reserve your seat
Many low-cost airlines require you to check-in online, and more often than not, you’re not sitting next to your travel companion. Just keep refreshing the page: they fill seats from the front/back and you often just need to wait.
Once you get to your destination
13. Don’t over focus on the map
Sure, a map will show you where to find the top attractions in a city, but some of our best experiences have been when we got lost in a back alley, you know, in a non-seedy way.
14. Don’t be afraid to ask
You might feel like an alien in a foreign country, but we are all humans. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions or advice: a local’s perspective is often an interesting one and they might tell you about their favourite bar/restaurant at the same time.
15. “It wasn’t meant to be”
Something hasn’t worked out as planned? “It wasn’t meant to be” is one of our most-used phrases when travelling and in general everyday life. Don’t forget that there is always a plan B…or even C.
16. Take a step back and relax
Ever just sat on a park bench and watched people? We love how much you can learn about a place just by watching the locals. You might even strike up a conversation!
17. Learn 4 words per trip
Saying ‘hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘goodbye’ in the local lingo is always appreciated. Showing that you want to make an effort will help the rest of the conversation in English go smoothly.
Money saving tips
18. Compare, compare, compare!
You can save tons of money just by comparing the price of stuff online!
- Flights: Skyscanner, Google Flights
- Car rental: Autoescape.com, Liligo.com, Kayak
- Accommodation: AirBnb, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Hostelworld, Couchsurfing
- Eating out: Tripadvisor, The Fork, ASK LOCALS!
19. Walk everywhere
We always like to experience public transportation in other countries, but we love how much you can discover on your feet even more. Burn those holiday calories and save money at the same time!
20. Beware of the ‘free’ food on the table
Some European countries like Portugal and Italy will charge for the olives, plates of tapas and bread on the table without prior notice. If in doubt, ask.
France is an exception, where bread and water are free of charge, by law!
21. Be spontaneous
You can get some great deals by booking last minute… like that time we went on an 11-night cruise for less than £500 each! Follow sites like Holiday Pirates on social media for some amazing travel deals.
22. Sign-up to the newsletter
If you know you’re going to book with a certain company, sign up to the newsletter a couple of days before. Sometimes they send you a welcome discount code or you might be surprised with a members-only sale!
23. Beware of hotel prices
Big travel sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com charge commission to be listed, and although they shouldn’t, some hotels increase prices on these sites to make up the difference. Check the hotel’s own website and see if your room is cheaper.
24. Get a refundable rate and keep searching
A refundable rate will give you the reassurance that you have something booked, but the flexibility to keep looking for a better last-minute deal. Just don’t forget about the ‘refundable until’ deadline!
Share some of your own tips in the comments. We would love to hear from you!