Happy New Year! I haven’t done an updated post on my favorite travel tips since my top 100 travel tips and hacks in 2014, so I wanted to start the year by sharing the best travel tips for 2018. These are a few of my favorite travel tips that I use on a frequent basis.
If you have any additional travel tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Bon voyage! ✈︎
1) Get Global Entry/TSA Pre✓® — it’s free if you have certain credit cards.
I can’t relay how many times TSA Precheck has been the ultimate time- and flight-saver for me — it’s literally the best $100 I’ve spent on travel. I applied for Global Entry before it was linked to any credit cards, but today, many credit cards offer $100 credit for Global Entry. Read more here.
2) Always carry a pen.
A pen is one of the single most useful things I have in my purse. At the airport, I may have my wallet, phone, passport, and just about every other convenience with me, but when I find customs and security forms in hand, there’s nothing that comes to my rescue more than a simple writing utensil. The digitization of customs forms is not far off in the future, but until then, always have a pen on hand.
3) Use Google Flights.
Kayak, Hopper, and SkyScanner are all great options for finding flights, but the king of meta search engines for airlines is Google Flights. You can even set up Google Alerts — these customizable alerts, delivered to your inbox or RSS feed, are a great way to get the upper hand on sales on flights, hotels, and more. You can customize the alerts to arrive daily, weekly or as they happen.
4) Pre-pack your toiletry kit and carry-on.
If you travel frequently, packing, unpacking, and repacking a toiletry kit is not only a nuisance but also a waste of time. I have travel-sized bottles and packets of all my favorite skincare, haircare, and makeup products, so I always have a fully-stocked travel-ready toiletry kit in my carry-on and it’s ready to go on moment’s notice.
5) Book your travel in advance.
For flights out of the U.S. and Canada, book:
-North America: 1 month
-Central America: 4 months
-Africa: 6 months
-Asia: 3 months
Read more on Kayak’s 2018 Travel Hacker Guide.
6) Check-in your luggage if you have a small window of time during your connecting flight.
My general rule of thumb is carry-on only for 15 days or less, and I rarely check it in (I hate waiting at baggage claim). But when I have only 30 minutes on my layover in an airport like JFK and I have to sprint across the airport to another terminal, I don’t want my luggage slowing me down.
7) Communicate with your airline and airport on Twitter for immediate assistance.
Not all airports are super active on Twitter, but almost every airline that I have taken is. And their response time for assistance is pretty damn good — it’s certainly much better than spending hours waiting on the phone. Any time I’ve needed to add in my FF#, to air my grievances, or to check the status of a flight, the social media teams have been really helpful and quick, for the most part. On that same note, if you’re unsure if you can take something on board, message TSA on Twitter — they also have swift response rates.
8) If your hotel offers private lounge/club level access, it’s almost always worth the upgrade.
I love the Club Level access at hotels such as the Langham Chicago and Ritz-Carlton Berlin — it’s a peaceful place to relax, ask questions to your dedicated concierge, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and coffee throughout the day, hold a business meeting in the boardroom, and unwind with a glass of wine. Often, if you have a branded credit card with the hotel company or if you’re an elite member, they’ll upgrade you automatically.
9) Use the hotel or airline’s website in its native currency.
The USD is currently super strong against the world’s currencies, and often, if you change the website to its native currency, you’ll get better deals because of the exchange rate. On that same note, given the current tensions between OTAs (online travel agencies such as Expedia and Orbitz) and individual hotel/airline companies, booking directly often yields better rates and perks than OTAs. Don’t hesitate the call the property directly.
10) Read your airline ticket’s contract of carriage.
As boring as it may seem, read the contract of carriage of your airline ticket beforehand. There’s a lot of essential information hidden in the fine print of your airline tickets, and knowing your rights and the airline’s obligations can prove to save your time, money, and mind when there’s a problem.