These days, it looks like everyone is packing up their backpacks, taking advantage of all of their vacation time, saying goodbye to their hometowns, and hitting the road. And honestly, we’re all for it. Travel is more affordable and accessible than ever before in history, and it is opening all of us to so many amazing new experiences. However, the idea of going out into the big, wide, unfamiliar world can definitely be scary and intimidating at first! There is so much to keep track of and budget for when it comes to planning a trip. And it seems like little challenges and obstacles always pop up at the last minute!
But don’t worry—we’re here to help you out with some seriously helpful travel hacks. The kind of advice that will keep you on the right track no matter where on earth you want to go. We’ll take you through every little trick you need to know when it comes to packing, planning, and jet setting around the globe—and we’ll tell you about a few common mistakes so that you don’t have to learn the hard way! Here are 13 things smart travellers do and 13 rookie traveller mistakes!
26 Smart Travel Hack: Always Pack Light
We honestly cannot stress this one enough! We know how tempting it is to bring along your entire wardrobe when you just know that the whole trip is going to end up on Instagram—we understand that you want to look your best! According to experienced travel blogger Nomadic Matt, unless you are moving your whole life overseas (and if you are, congrats on taking the leap!), it is simply not worth it. Take the minimalist approach to packing every time.
25 Rookie Mistake: Bringing Tons Of Extra Clothes
Take it from the solo female travel blogger expert Kate McCulley, who runs the travel blog Adventurous Kate: you do not want to pack too many clothes for your trip. You will not end up wearing even half of them, you will regret taking up all that space with outfits that you don’t even need, and when you are lugging your heavy backpack through security, you will be tempted to just leave half of your wardrobe behind at the airport.
24 Smart Travel Hack: Print Your Boarding Pass At Home
Yes, you can just show up at the airport and print your boarding pass when you arrive. But honestly, according to the travel blog Alex in Wanderland, printing your boarding pass before you leave for the airport will save you a little time. And you may not think those extra minutes matter too much, but what if you get stuck in traffic on your way? Suddenly every minute will count, and you will wish that you had printed your boarding pass!
23 Rookie Mistake: Wearing Sneakers Through Security
We all know that going through security can be such a huge pain. Seriously, traveling would be so much better if we never had to go through security. But what can you do to make it less of a hassle? According to Trip Savvy, wear slip-on shoes instead of sneakers to the airport. That way you won’t be stuck untying and then retying your laces after you finally get out of that line! Consider it a small travel victory.
22 Smart Travel Hack: Get Directions To Your Hotel Before Arriving
This one seems so basic that maybe calling it a hack is a bit of a stretch, but you would be amazed at how many people don’t look up directions to their hotel until they land in a new city! According to the travel blog A Dangerous Business, it’s always best to get directions before take off. You don’t know if you will have access to WiFi when you land, and you can’t always get a good paper map at the airport.
21 Rookie Mistake: Flying On A Weekend
Did you know that flying on a weekend isn’t always the best idea? We know it can be more convenient, and sometimes you have no choice. But according to Expert Vagabond, it is almost always cheaper to fly during the week! If you have the ability to work from home, or if you are comfortable with taking an extra vacation day or two, try to fly during weekdays instead so that you can save more money for when you land!
20 Smart Travel Hack: Set Travel Alerts With Your Bank
Let’s be honest, we’ve all forgotten to do this before—but forgetting to set a travel alert with your bank before you leave can really screw up your entire trip! According to Trip Savvy, this is one of the most common mistakes that rookie travelers make, but it is so easily avoidable. Just call your bank before you leave or set a travel alert online—most banks these days do have that option, which makes it super convenient to take care of.
19 Rookie Mistake: Staying Awake On A Red Eye Flight
We know how exciting it is to leave for a vacation that you’ve had planned forever—so naturally, it can be pretty tough to fall asleep on a red eye flight! But according to Expert Vagabond, this is one of the best ways to adjust to a new time zone. You should always try your best to sleep on a red eye flight so that you will wake up in your new destination feeling like you’re ready to go explore!
18 Smart Travel Hack: Bring An Empty Water Bottle To The Airport
Now, we all know that security agents can be super strict about allowing people to bring liquids on flights, and this can be very inconvenient. But according to Hippie in Heels, it’s fairly easy to work around this rule when it comes to water. Simply bring an empty water bottle with you in your carry on and fill it up at a water fountain after you get through security. Ta da, now you don’t have to pay for your water!
17 Rookie Mistake: Showing Up Without A Place To Stay
If you’re older and fairly well traveled, the idea of showing up somewhere without a place to stay might sound absolutely ridiculous to you—but this is actually very popular amongst younger backpackers these days! But according to Wandering Earl, it’s best to at least have a couple nights of accommodation booked before you arrive. And if you decide you want to stay in a different neighborhood after that, you can ask around and see what else is available to you.
16 Smart Travel Hack: Bring A Copy Of Your Passport
Your passport is one of the most important documents you own, and according to Legal Nomads, it’s one document that you should always keep a copy of. When you travel internationally, your passport is your lifeline. Just try to get through security without it and see what happens! That’s totally a joke—you always need your passport at the airport! You can keep a paper copy in your suitcase to use as ID if you should ever lose the real one.
15 Rookie Mistake: Using Your Cell Phone Without An International Plan
When you show up in a foreign country without a clue of what to do or where to go, it can be tempting to whip out your phone and use just a little bit of data to figure it out. But according to Trip Savvy, this can lead you to rack up huge international data bills! Instead, make sure to pay for an international phone plan in advance if you will be away for a while, or just wait for WiFi!
14 Smart Travel Hack: Don’t Exchange Money At The Airport
When you finally get to your destination, one of the first things you will probably do is go to one of the currency exchange booths at the airports to get some cash. But not so fast! According to Legal Nomads, this will never get you the best exchange rate. Instead, you should either use a credit card for as many purchases as possible, take some money out of an ATM, or exchange money at a bank in your home country before leaving.
13 Rookie Mistake: Buying Too Many Souvenirs
Now, we know how tempting it is to buy a ton of trinkets on your trip. After all, you want to remember it forever, right? But according to Everything Everywhere, you will end up wasting some money this way, and you also might find yourself running out of room in your suitcase! That will not make for a fun trip home. Instead, just pick up a couple things that you really like, preferably things you know you will use at home.
12 Smart Travel Hack: Fly With An Eye Mask And Ear Plugs
Earlier, we mentioned that you should always try to sleep on your red eye flights so that you can have plenty of energy when your trip kicks off at your new destination. According to the travel blog A Broken Backpack, you may feel a little bit silly wearing a sleep mask and ear plugs on your flight, but it will be worth it when you get some shut eye! You don’t want a crying baby to wake you up, right?
11 Rookie Mistake: Booking Risky, Short Layovers
Now, we all know that booking a cheaper flight with a layover can seem like a great way to save money at first glance. But unfortunately, it could end up costing you big time if your first flight arrives late. This is why Travel Fish recommends not booking short layovers—give yourself at least two hours between flights whenever possible. Seriously, this will give you so much peace of mind and make your entire journey way more convenient in the end.
10 Smart Travel Hack: Set Up Google Maps To Work Offline
Did you know that you don’t need WiFi for Google Maps to work? Honestly, this little trick is a major life saver! According to The Points Guy, you can download maps of different cities online BEFORE you get on your flight, and then once they have downloaded on to your phone, you will have access to them without WiFi when you land. This means no trying out different WiFi networks at the airport or running around looking for a map.
9 Rookie Mistake: Leaving Your Belongings Unattended
You’re sitting at your gate. You’re traveling solo. You have to go to the bathroom, but you don’t want to drag all your stuff with you. Surely you could just leave it alone for a second, right? Nope! According to Legal Nomads, this is a surefire way for your things to get stolen or for security to confiscate your belongings. For your own sake, just make sure that someone always has an eye on your stuff—don’t lose your luggage!
8 Smart Travel Hack: Pack A Mini First Aid Kit
According to Young Adventuress, this is one of those little tips that many people forget, and while you may not always need it, you will be glad to have it if an issue does arise. Packing a mini first aid kit in your carry on is never a bad idea! Make sure that you have a few band aids, gauze, any medications that you may need, and perhaps something to settle your stomach if you happen to eat something funky!
7 Rookie Mistake: Taking Too Many Toiletries
Just like we all love to pack a few extra outfits for those fun nights out, most of us will also pack too many toiletries and a big makeup kit before we leave for our trip. According to Adventurous Kate, this is a super common travel mistake! Once you arrive, you will realize that you don’t really want to put in a ton of time and effort into putting on tons of makeup and looking fancy anyway—you’ll be too busy!
6 Smart Travel Hack: Dress Like A Local
So, here’s another quick tip when it comes to packing. According to Everything Everywhere, it always helps to blend in at your destination. Now, clearly, we’re not suggesting that you go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, but try to dress so that you won’t stand out too much from the locals. That way people will not try to target you to sell things, and you won’t be on the receiving end of any weird looks for your outfits.
5 Rookie Mistake: Using Guidebooks Instead Of The Internet
We all know that guidebooks used to be the go to resource when it was time to plan your travels. But nowadays, although it might seem fun to bring a guidebook along with you, chances are you will not really need it. According to The Points Guy, it is really best to plan your trip using up to date resources online. Things can change in an instant, and even guidebooks printed in recent years can contain some info that’s wrong.
4 Smart Travel Hack: Pack Your Clothes In Space Bags
Trying to follow our hints about packing light and still struggling to fit everything that you genuinely need into your tiny suitcase? According to Y Travel Blog, space bags can be your secret weapon. Now, it’s important to remember that they won’t lessen the weight of your load, so you don’t want to get carried away and stuff too many things into your suitcase. But they can absolutely help you keep your whole wardrobe organized until it’s time to unpack.
3 Rookie Mistake: Leaving Without A Little Emergency Fund
We all like to assume that our trips will go off without a hitch. But according to Legal Nomads, leaving without some money set aside for emergencies is a major mistake! Trust us, you do not want to end up stranded and broke in an unfamiliar place. That is an easy way to ruin your trip! Instead, you should absolutely save some money in advance that you can access in a sticky situation. How much will depend on the length of your trip.
2 Smart Travel Hack: Adjust Your Schedule For Jet Leg Before Leaving
You might think that there is really not much you can do to deal with jet lag. Well, we have some good news for you—not many people are aware, but you can actually prepare your body to adjust nicely. According to Trip Savvy, if you begin adjusting your sleep schedule in the week or two leading up to your trip so that it aligns more closely with the time in your destination, it will be easier to get used to it.
1 Rookie Mistake: Forgetting To Double Check Your Reservations
Don’t get so caught up in the excitement of your trip that you forget to double check all of the important info you will need upon arrival! According to Expert Vagabond, it’s so easy to mix up dates and times when you’re traveling—especially when you’re flying internationally and going across time zones. Print out all the info you might need before you leave and keep it in a safe place in your carry on to avoid forgetting important details.
References: nomadicmatt.com, adventurouskate.com, alexinwanderland.com, tripsavvy.com, adangerousbusiness.com, expertvagabond.com, hippieinheels.com, wanderingearl.com, legalnomads.com, abrokenbackpack.com, thepointsguy.com, everythingeverywhere.com, ytraveblog.com