Happy New Year and wishing you endless fabulous adventures in 2019!
Let’s start the year off with some tried and tested travel tips to increase your travel savviness quotient.
If you have any additional travel tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Bon voyage! ✈︎
1) Before purchasing travel insurance, check what your employer and/or credit cards cover first.
There are times when purchasing travel insurance makes sense, but chances are you’re probably already covered by the perks offered by your employer and/or credit cards. I have rarely purchased travel insurance, as trip cancellations, baggage protection, health emergencies, etc. are generally already covered. Read more.
2) 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.
3) 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. Mobile Passport is available in select cities, but the digitization of customs forms is not widely accepted yet, so until then, always have a pen on hand.
4) Take the hassle out of packing and 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) Digitize your documentation.
Always keep digital copies of your essential documents (passport, credit cards, residence permit, etc.), either on your phone or in your email (or send it to your emergency contact). You’ll thank yourself when you need to show your documents to local authorities, if your wallet gets stolen, etc.
6) 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. Also check out Clear, but it only works in select airports. Read more here.
7) Communicate with airlines and airports 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) 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.
9) Download some helpful travel apps to make your trip better.
There are so many travel apps on the market, but there’s only a few that I use regularly. I love Google Translate for language translations; XE Currency for currency conversion rates; Duolingo or Drops for language learning; Uber/Lyft for getting around locally; Google Maps to navigate the areas; WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world; Mobile Passport for making the customs process easier and quicker; and Kayak/Hopper (and Google Flights) to search for flights/airlines.
10) 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.
I’m Nyssa. I started The Cultureur in August 2012, almost a decade after contracting the travel bug while on a Model United Nations conference in Russia and Finland.
And from there, when I took the first step in solo international travel and decided to study abroad in college,
there was no looking back, and I ended up living, studying, working, and volunteering in 6 countries (the U.S., the UK, France, Iceland, India, and Germany) and traveling to 50+ others.