84 Trailblazing Travel Tips And Hacks To Make Your Trip Epic

One of the joys of international travel is that every day is a school day. Each time you move to a new country, city or even hotel, you might learn something new and the more you travel, the more you pick up different travel tips and hacks that make life that little easier. This is especially true if you travel with children, as they introduce unique challenges to your adventures!! 

These pearls of travel wisdom can come from personal experiences or conversations with fellow globetrotters. Below, we’ve distilled the lessons learned from our extensive travels with our kids, enriched by some fantastic contributions from the r/travel community. We hope they will save you time and energy, and help you avoid a modest amount of hassle when you are on the road. 

We have split travel hacks into categories to make them easier to navigate, so from packing to getting back home, we hope you find something useful! 

Travel Tips And Hacks for when you are travelling.

Before You Go

#1 Save by contacting your accommodation directly to book.

Often, it’s cheaper to go direct. Look up a hotel’s number based on their booking.com listing and contact them directly for a price. Having run a Bed and Breakfast ourselves, we can testify that nothing made us happier than avoiding their fees and passing the savings on to our guests! Also, ask if it is cheaper to pay cash or by credit card.

#2 The more flexible you are, the cheaper things will be.

Booking flights for off-peak hours or mid-week will help you find better deals and avoid crowded airports. Being flexible with your travel dates by a few days either way can also net big savings.  For the biggest savings of all, look at booking the shoulder season rather than the peak season.

#3 Use incognito mode or a VPN when booking flights and accommodation.

It is no secret some websites use algorithms to spot repeated searches from the same IP address or browser. So, if you’ve been hunting for that great deal on cheap flight prices, they might nudge those costs up a bit. Private browsing or using a VPN can help avoid this.

You also get to feel a bit like a Bond villain.

#4 Learn the most important phrase in any local language.

Everyone learns local language words for hello, goodbye, thank you, and please, which can greatly help. But one that always makes people happy: Delicious.

#5 Know the entry requirements of where you plan to visit.

Take the time to learn the entry requirements (travel visas and length of passport validity) of any country you plan to visit well in advance. This is especially important for any British people as things have changed in the EU post-Brexit.

#6 Know your emergency numbers.

Before your trip, take a moment to find and save the local emergency number for your destination, such as 911 in the U.S. or 999 in the U.K., so you can easily access help if needed without searching.

#7 Avoid Airport Taxi Ripoffs

Take the time to research how to get from the airport to your hotel as cheaply as possible – airport taxis are notorious for overcharging. We explore some common rip-offs and scams (a lot of which seem to feature airports) in our article here. 

While we are on the subject, watch out for TukTuk drivers as well!

#8 Have all your essential information in at least three places.

Having vital docs as a PDF on your phone or added to your Google Wallet/Apple Wallet is a great place to start. Also, print out all your airline tickets, accommodation info, contact numbers, and addresses and store them separately in case you lose access to your phone. Finally, send a digital copy to a trusted friend or family member who can fax/email it to your hotel if you lose the first two.

#9 Have at least three ways to pay and keep them separate.

As it is the most secure, we use the contactless facility on our phone to make most payments; we lock one card up in the hotel and carry the other in a zipped pocket. It’s rare to be robbed; it’s unthinkable to be robbed in two places simultaneously.

#10 Make full-sized colour copies of your passport.

Have one to carry with you when you leave your accommodation and put a copy in each bag you’re taking (including your electronics cases, if possible.) To keep them dry in case of a downpour, put them in a ziplock bag.

#11 Clean your house before you leave.

Kirsty’s favourite tip! This provides peace of mind while you’re away that there is nothing going off in the fridge and makes your return more enjoyable. Nothing quite like coming back to a clean and tidy home.

#12 Always research the cultural norms of your destination before you fly.

Understanding local customs, taboos, and sensitivities is essential. For example, what should you not bring when you travel to the Middle East or what to be careful about when you go to Singapore? Sadly, this is especially important if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

#13 Consult a variety of sources when researching.

Take some time to watch videos, read blogs and follow Instagram accounts showcasing the places you will visit. To keep track of noteworthy spots, create a dedicated Google Maps list for each city, carefully noting the reasons behind each selection. This way, you’ll have a handy reference for discovering hidden gems and delectable dishes even if you stumble upon them weeks later. This practical tool not only aids in selecting convenient accommodations but also assists in planning efficient daily itineraries based on proximity. Additionally, you can download the custom map to access it offline, ensuring you’re always on the right track while exploring your chosen destinations.

#14 Download local maps to your phone.

Having the maps of an area stored locally on your phone can help conserve battery life and reduce data usage while you are away. With offline maps, you can navigate unfamiliar streets even without a data connection.

#15 Embassys may not help – make sure you are in a position to get home.

Should the worst happen, make sure you have enough travel insurance and/or liquid reserves to pay for a medical emergency in any country you plan to visit. Also, have enough reserves to pay for an emergency, last-minute flight back home. It is a common misunderstanding that an Embassy will repatriate you. They might, in the event of a national emergency, but not just because you have run out of money.

#16 Use Google Street View to scout ahead.

Before you arrive, walk the block of the hotel on Google Street View to get an idea of what’s around and where. You’ll get a rough reference of nearby attractions, restaurants, and landmarks, so navigating will be easier.

Watch out for the pigeons in Tokyo.

#17 Don’t cancel non-refundable plane tickets.

Taken a gamble with a nonrefundable ticket that has not paid off? Don’t just cancel it and lose the money! If there is a flight cancellation or it is unexpectedly changed (as they often are), this approach might grant you a potential credit or refund that you would lose if you had cancelled the ticket in advance.

#18 Don’t over-plan.

Don’t be one who plans a trip down to the minute. Have a plan, but make it flexible to embrace unexpected opportunities and experiences. Leave some free time in your schedule to relax and soak in the atmosphere without feeling rushed. A well-balanced travel plan combines structure and flexibility, ensuring you make the most of your journey while leaving space for serendipity.

#19 Look out for reward schemes.

This one is more for our US readers, as you get much better rewards from your credit cards than we do in the UK! – Sign up for airline rewards programs for frequent travellers, and look for travel credit card offers with sign-up bonuses that also accumulate air miles when you spend. These can be used for future free flights or might just net you an upgrade. Joining these programs can significantly enhance your travel experiences while saving you money in the long run. For those looking for an American card, Nomadic Matt has a great page.


All ready for our trip to Costa Rica!

#20 Start packing well in advance of your trip.

Make a packing list and start packing a week before you leave. Leave your luggage out and start putting stuff in as you think of it. The true benefit of this is you will find yourself taking stuff out as well. With some time to think, you will decide you actually don’t need to take certain things. When packing in a rush, people naturally err on the side of “what if” and pack too much.

Going on a longer trip with your kids? Check out our guide:

Long-Term Travel Packing Guide for Families.

Going on a longer trip with your kids? Check out our guide: Long-Term Travel Packing Guide for Families.

#21 Have a change of undergarments in your carry-on.

Our most useful packing hack: Pack a couple of fresh changes of underwear and t-shirts in your carry-on, so if your checked luggage gets delayed or lost, you still have something clean and fresh to change into. If you have a travel partner, pack two outfits in each other’s checked luggage for the same reason.

#22 Take a lightweight travel bag scale.

We have been that family desperately repacking bags on the floor of an airport, and I can’t recommend this enough! Invest in a portable luggage scale, so you know you are OK before you reach the airport.

#23 One power adaptor to rule them all.

Take one power adapter that can do as many countries and with as many USB slots as possible. Most devices charge by USB and adaptors like this are very useful as you can power multiple devices at once. We have used and abused several of these MyTravelPal adaptors on our trips, and they have been great.

You can plug it in just about anywhere and plug just about anything into it!

#24 One power cable to rule them all.

Bring more than one charging cable and try to make sure everything takes the same charger. Now Apple are finally getting on the USB-C wagon (5 years late….) we finally have one charging cable that can run our phones, drone, and laptops. This makes things simple and saves weight. The only device holding out is our electric toothbrush.

#25 Wrap toiletries in nappy bags.

If they explode on the flight it will make cleaning up much easier!

#26 Packing a raincoat is far easier than packing an umbrella.

And you must have one or the other.

#27 Roll, don’t fold your clothes.

Rolling your clothes will give you extra room in your suitcase (as anyone who has watched “Fleabag” knows). This makes the most of suitcase space, helps prevent wrinkles, and makes it easier to locate specific items without disturbing your entire luggage.

#28 Packing cubes are amazing.

Use packing cubes – We love them and now cannot travel without them! They keep your luggage organized and allow you to categorize toiletries, clothes and electronics. This makes it easy to find what you need without rummaging through your suitcase. Plus, they compress your clothes, saving valuable space and helping you fit more into your luggage. Packing cubes are an absolute game-changer for staying organized while on the road. Having tried a few, we have found these to be the best.

It is just so….. beautiful.

#29 Pack a doorstop.

This is especially useful if you are travelling solo; a doorstop is light, takes up little luggage space and gives some extra security. Also, you never know if you’ll have a faulty lock. You can even get them with an alarm on!

#30 Download entertainment while at home and have good Wi-Fi.

Both Netflix and Disney+ apps will let you do this, and it can help pass a long flight or layover. This is especially useful if you are travelling with children. If you really want to kill some time on a flight, download Civ VI.

#31 Bring a dry bag for your dirty laundry.

For longer trips where you may be washing clothes – bring a dry bag for dirty laundry and use that as your wash basket. Then you can roll it up, seal it and take it to a launderette or put it back in your case to take home.

#32 AirTag your case and carry on.

Put an AirTag in your carry-on bag, and for your checked bag, use two. Put one AirTag strategically in an external pocket and another tucked away in a pocket of your clothing or a pouch. You can then keep an eye on your bags, and if they go missing, stand a much better chance of seeing them again.

#33 Carry on what you can’t risk losing.

Bring what you can’t lose in your cabin bag. Things like your laptop, house and phone keys.

#34 Pack a couple of strong cable ties.

We have saved many pieces of luggage and even shoes just well enough to get home using these.

#35 Buy the best luggage you can afford.

Your luggage will take an absolute kicking, so it is worth investing in. Get the best you can, and it will serve you well.

When You Are On The Move

#36 Study stoicism.

Sometimes you’ll miss your bus, and other times the bus might leave without you due to no fault of your own. Sometimes the restaurant you try will be bad and still expensive, and other times the one you walked a mile to find won’t even be open. Either way, you can get upset or anxious in those situations and ruin your day/week/whole trip, or you can just accept it’s part of the experience and figure out how to proceed.

#37 Bring the free hotel slippers to wear on the plane.

For comfort, I often take my shoes off on long flights, and plane cabin floors are often not the cleanest. Walking around in socks can pick up all sorts of dirt, so I bring the free slippers to use. Do I look a bit silly? Yes? Do I care? No!

#38 Social media can often get things done much more quickly than official channels.

Travel troubles? Make a stink on social media. Airlines, hotels, and travel companies often have active social media teams that respond promptly to customer concerns. By tweeting your travel troubles, you may find quicker and more efficient solutions, such as rebooking a cancelled flight or resolving a hotel reservation problem, as these companies prioritize their online image and customer satisfaction.

#39 Airport lounge access can be worth the cost.

If you are experiencing a long delay or and extended layover as part of a long-haul flight, Airport lounges can actually save you money. Usually, good quality food, drink, internet access, comfy seating and charging sockets will be included as part of the cost. You can even top up your portable charger as well as your phone! If you are waiting more than a couple of hours they are a game changer.

Also, look for travel credit cards or debit cards that include access to airport lounges as part of the membership.

One word of warning if you are travelling with kids, some of them can have age restrictions on them.

#40 Never exchange currency at the airport.

You will be ripped off. Usually, the best way to access foreign currency is to use a debit card with free cash withdrawals abroad. The best provider will vary from month to month and country to country, but if you are in the UK, Martin’s Money Tips is always a great place to start.

#41 Take a photo of any paperwork you need to retrieve luggage.

If you receive a number slip to retrieve stowed luggage, always take a photo (and make your travel companions do the same). We lost our left luggage tag when exploring Bilboa, but the photo made retrieving it much easier!

#42 Take photos of your entire hire car (including the interior) on pick up and drop off.

Having worked for a car hire company for four years this one is from professional experience! Having photos of the vehicle will help you easily rebuff any agencies that try and claim you damaged the vehicle.

#43 Keep all your petrol receipts from your hire car.

Should the car hire company accuse you of fuel contamination (petrol in a diesel or vice versa), you can prove you did not mix up the fuels.

#44 Set your watch/phone to the time at your destination when you get on the plane.

This really helps us acclimatise, especially when flying west to east.

#45 On the plane, always ask for drinks like bottled water or Coke in a can even if you don’t want them.

Keep them in your bag for later. It’s included in the ticket, and you just saved yourself a few dollars!

#46 Wear a hat when flying and use it to hold your pocket stuff when going through airport security.

If you don’t fancy a hat, keeping a small bag on hand does the same job!

#47 Invest in high-quality noise-cancelling headphones

This can be a game-changer during long flights. It greatly reduces cabin noise (like a crying baby) and even the rumble of the engines. It is also easier to sleep while wearing them, so you can arrive refreshed.

#48 When booking your airline seats, consider reserving the aisle seat and window seat when travelling with a companion.

This strategic (if morally grey) move can increase your chances of having an empty seat between you, providing extra space during the flight. If the flight isn’t fully booked, there’s a good chance that no one will select the middle seat, allowing you to enjoy a bit more room to stretch out.

#49 You wanna know the secret to surviving air travel?

After you get where you’re going, take off your shoes and your socks, then walk around on the rug barefoot and make fists with your toes.

When You Arrive Somewhere New

#50 Ask local people for recommendations

The best tip on the list and our favourite travel hack! There is nothing better than local knowledge, and they know things you probably haven’t found online.

#51 Use the concierge at your hotel.

Very much related to the above tip, your concierge will give you good advice and many times can hook you up with discounts or ideas for things you never even thought about. It’s always better to hear it from a local, face-to-face!

#52 There are great apps to help you get around and even to a new city.

Use apps like City Mapper or Rome to Rio to plan your day using public transport. They provide real-time information on transit options, schedules, and routes, ensuring you make the most efficient use of your time.

Just a quick 49 hours between Rio and Buenos Aires.

#53 Do a walking tour on the first day.

Cities often have tipped-based or free app-based walking tours. You will learn lots about the area, where the main districts are, and fun restaurants/events/etc to try out during your trip.

#54 Another (pricier) option is to start a trip with a food tour.

This helps us get a lay of the land and sample the local cuisine so you know the best things to eat! When we first arrived in New York we did a Food and Culture Walking Tour of The Village, which was just amazing.

#55 Never buy bug spray before you travel.

Buy the local stuff. It always works better for the local bugs.

When You Are There

#56 Friendships can be lost or changed from travelling together.

It happens, and it can sometimes not even be your fault.

#57 Pay contactlessly using your phone or watch when possible.

Where possible, use your phone to pay using contactless as it offers extra security. When you use Google or Apple Pay, your device generates a unique card number for each transaction. Even if the card number is somehow intercepted, it is useless to potential fraudsters the second the original transaction is complete.

#58 Travelling can be exhilarating, but it’s essential to strike a balance.

Don’t exhaust yourself trying to see everything all day, every day. The “Once In A Lifetime Trip” mindset can lead to unnecessary pressure. Remember, your destination will still be there next year, and you deserve breaks. Naps are perfectly acceptable, and taking moments to sit on a shady bench, rehydrate, and enjoy the surroundings is crucial. This advice is especially important if you’re travelling with children. Prioritize your well-being and make the most of your journey without overexertion.

We are especially prone to overdoing it on trips and trying to cram everything in. On our longer-term journeys, we tend to try and do one “big” thing per day and also schedule rest days.

#59 Google Translate is amazing.

The nearest thing we have to the Babel Fish. It can translate a live conversation or text from a picture – perfect to make sure you understand the French menu correctly and you are not accidentally ordering snails.

#60 Remember to back up all those photographs.

Losing a phone can be like losing years of memories if you don’t have everything backed up. We explore some of the best ways to make sure your photos and videos are safe and sound here.

#61 Never use a hotel’s laundry service unless money is no object

The prices are insultingly high. For example, Buenos Aires Marriott would have charged $12 per shirt, $2 per pair of socks, and $3 per undergarment. We did an entire load for $2 at the laundromat close by that would have cost $100 or more at the hotel.

#62 Steam creases out of clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower.

#63 Ladies, consider packing a female urination device like the Pstyle for your travels.

It’s a game-changer when dealing with less-than-sanitary toilets on the road. It’s also great for hiking and cycling….. no more trying to find a place to bare your bum in the wild!

#64 When sleeping outside, cover your shoe hole with your used sock.

You don’t want any “friendly visitors” crawling into your shoes when you’re sleeping.

#65 Prioritize experiences over material souvenirs.

Now, this is fairly self-explanatory. Our girls love a tat shop, we have to be careful to make sure we enjoy the experiences and not just let them rush for souvenirs.

#66 Walk three blocks away from any tourist attraction for lunch.

Food will be three times better, at 1/3 the price.

#67 Don’t eat anywhere that you can see the main train station.

Those places don’t have to try hard and will be overpriced. Every time I have ignored this advice, I’ve been disappointed!

#68 If you are eating somewhere a bit dodgy and travel as a couple, do not eat the same dish or with the same ingredients.

This way, if one of you suffers food poisoning, the other has the possibility to buy medicine or organize a place to take care of you.

#69 Connect with fellow adventurers using apps like Travel Buddies and Backpackr.

Flying solo or looking to make new connections? These platforms help you find like-minded individuals with similar itineraries, making it easy to meet up, share tips, and create lasting memories.

#70 If you end up with leftover foreign currency, give it to the hotel to apply to your bill so you get the full value of it.

This way, you also avoid having to pay commissions to a currency exchange broker.

#71 When they charge your card, always choose your local currency and not the home currency.

If not, the card processing company takes a foreign transaction fee on top of your bank when you select the home currency; also, you will most likely get a deeply unfavourable exchange rate.

#72 If you forget to download your map offline, GPS can be used even without data.

It may not give you all the info, like open hours and directions, but it will show you where you are. Always bookmark important places prior so that you can easily find them without data connections.

#73 Take steps to protect your passport and other key paperwork.

When travelling to destinations with heavy rain or undertaking outdoor activities you can wrap your passport in a plastic bag or a zip bag to keep it safe and dry. Additionally, this will help ensure all your paper visas, proofs of vaccination, and essential documents are kept safe and legible, as sometimes water bottles can leak during your journey.

#74 Many hotel TVs have USB ports to charge your phone if you lose your charger.

#75 If you’re doing a day trip on a bus, take a photo of the bus (front side with number plate) and remember where it’s parked.

We have been on excursions where there were 20 identical white minibuses parked up at a rest point, and we had no idea which was ours. Keeping a photo will help track it down.

On the same note, use your alarm to remind yourself if you’re about to go back to the meeting point so you’re not late or get left behind.

#76 For longer trips, plan to do laundry if you can.

It’s better than packing three weeks’ worth of clothing for a three-week trip. Pack enough for about half the duration and use a local launderette or the classic tub soak. A portable line and travel detergent really come in handy for those situations!

Being Safe

#77 Carrying some change or a small denomination bill, like €5, in your pockets when out and about.

It allows you to help someone in need without reaching for your wallet, which can help you maintain a sense of security while navigating unfamiliar places. Small gestures of kindness can make a positive impact while keeping your financial information discreet.

#78 When going to a third-world country, where security/cops accept “gifts”, grab a carton of cigarettes at the duty-free.

These can be useful should any local law enforcement require a contribution.

#79 A transparent water bottle full of water will act as a lantern if you put your phone flashlight underneath it.

Always useful in a pinch when the power goes out.

When You Are Back Home

#80 Try to learn over time how travelling works best for you.

Solo or not. Tour guides or not. All trips are different, but understanding what your perfect trip is can help with planning.

#81 Keep in touch with travel buddies.

Staying in touch with the people you meet on the road is essential for preserving your travel memories and nurturing new friendships. Sharing photos and stories keeps those experiences fresh in your mind. Plus, it opens doors to future adventures, as you might discover shared travel interests and destinations you’d like to explore together.

Kirsty and I have been lucky enough to make some great friends on our travels who we have been able to meet up with on future trips!

#82 Don’t be a travel bore.

If you figure out how to do this, let me know. While sharing your experiences with friends back home is great, don’t overdo it. To those who have not travelled, it can become a little frustrating when it is all you talk about.

#83 Take the time to sort through your photos while it is still fresh in your mind.

Sorting through your travel photos is a great way to relive your experiences and organize your memories. The most important thing to do is mark your favourites for easy future reference. You can also delete duplicates and categorize your photos into albums or folders. You can also take this opportunity to edit and enhance your favourite pictures, making them even more memorable. Sharing your photos with friends and family can also be a fun way to reminisce and let them in on your travel adventures.

Finding the best shots from a day quickly can make all the difference when you want to look back.

#84 Book the next trip!

Booking your next trip while you’re still on one keeps the excitement alive. It’s a great way to beat post-travel blues and gives you something to look forward to. Plus, you can take advantage of any travel inspiration or newfound knowledge from your current adventure.

Any Travel Tips or Hacks We Have Missed?

I suspect this is an article that will never truly be finished as we learn more on our travels! If you have any tips you think we have missed then please let us know in the comments below.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Thanks.

About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

We hate intrusive adverts as much as you do, so we keep our site ad-free. If you enjoy the blog or have found something helpful, you can say "thanks" by buying us a coffee! Just click the button below.

Leave a comment