Randomly stumbling across travel suggestions on social media often results in screenshots of the info. But if you're anything like us, your screenshot gallery resembles the Bermuda Triangle, where pics go to disappear forever. That's why we've compiled a bunch of handy international travel tips in one convenient listicle. We touch on packing hacks, jetlag tricks, admin pointers, and advice to stretch your greenbacks, so you don't have to fly by the seat of your pants.
With corporate and academic calendars, avoiding peak season isn't always possible. But if you can take leave for a vacation abroad when it's not the Christmas holidays or your destination's busiest time of the year, you'll save a ton of dough and have smaller crowds to contend with at various attractions. Sometimes, the price difference is enough to cover another trip. Research to find out what the weather is like in a particular country and when schools let out, and consider whether you have primarily indoor travel goals.
If it's free, sign up for travel loyalty programs. Using the same airline will gain you frequent flier miles which you can use to pay for future flights. At often-visited resorts, friendly exchanges with staff can lead to fantastic room upgrades. And certain credit cards have no foreign transaction fees and can cover car rental protection, travel insurance, and other perks like airport lounge access. PS let your credit card company know that you'll be overseas, so they don't see red flags and block your account.
A universal adapter and travel power strip compatible with your devices and destination is a game-changer. It allows you to charge while simultaneously using various gadgets, and friends and family can benefit from extra plugs and USB ports. No waiting your turn and squandering time that could be better spent exploring.
Use the Ranger Rolling method instead of folding your clothes, and you'll get fewer wrinkles and more room to work with when you're packing your newly-shopped items. You'll also be able to see what your bag contains in one glance rather than sifting through layers to find the item you're seeking. The Ranger Rolling method involves folding the bottom two inches inside out to create a pocket for a more secure roll. So, for example, you would lay a t-shirt down flat, make your two-inch pocket, and fold your t-shirt towards the middle before rolling from the opposite end towards the pocket.
Travel noobs, listen up. You've gotta put your toiletries in waterproof zip bags, or you risk getting their contents all over your carefully curated wardrobe and treasured purchases. When a bottle of liquid isn't filled to the top, the air inside expands due to cabin pressure. This can cause the container to break and your high-end beauty products to leak. It's a rookie mistake, but now you know.
Your karmic balance should be a-okay. When you check in at the airport, tell the airline representative that your luggage contains fragile items. They'll pop a fragile sticker on your bag; just like that, it'll get special treatment. If you've ever seen baggage handlers toss luggage, you'll appreciate the difference this little white lie can make. Besides delicate handling, you'll also get your bag quicker than everyone else on the plane.
Scan or screenshot soft copies of your passport and essential travel documents and save them to the cloud, so you have digital access from any major city. If you're the victim of a pickpocket or misplace your ID, this precaution will save you time when you go to your country's embassy to apply for an emergency passport. You should also print your health insurance details and slip them in your bag for the rare occasion you need medical attention at a hospital.
When searching for flights, some travelers instantly disregard options with layovers exceeding 12 hours. But if you play your cards right, the flight with the long layover won't just be cheaper—it'll afford you the opportunity to visit a city you might not have set foot in otherwise. Use your transit to exit the stuffy terminal and head for a nearby urban hot spot where you can safely take in the sights and sounds. Don't linger too long, or your refreshing getaway will become stressful.
Rule number one of international travel is to exchange money at the airport only in an emergency. If you want to swap dollars for local cash, you're better off doing so at an ATM or a reasonably priced money converter at a market, for example. The airport and other currency exchange outlets often charge exorbitant fees, so familiarize yourself with the exchange rate and compare vendors.
Experienced travelers cross three or more time zones strategically. There are a few tips to fight jetlag and make the most of a trip to a faraway country. The first is to steer clear of alcohol and caffeine but stay hydrated on the plane, which is easy enough if you have an aisle seat. Second, do some exercise. If you're moving from west to east, do a light workout before 4 pm in your new city to push your main sleep time earlier, and soak up some bright light in the morning. And if you're traveling in the opposite direction, hop on the hotel treadmill or go for a brisk walk around the block between 7 and 10 pm local time and expose yourself to evening light. Gentle yoga works too.
Want hassle-free navigation? If you know the areas you'll be going to, download the relevant Google Maps while you're connected to the web. The internet can be spotty on the road, and if you need to be somewhere for a prepaid scheduled activity, you won't have the luxury of getting lost and being spontaneous. Downloading Google Translate can also work in your favor when you're off the beaten path and need to communicate or read labels and signs that aren't in English. It's as simple as snapping a picture.
Hostels and budget accommodations come in many shapes and sizes, so if you imagine one big threadbare room with multiple bunk beds and potentially dubious roommates, think again. Search for well-reviewed or luxury hostels, and you should be able to book a private room at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Cleanliness, check. Peace of mind, check. You'll have more cash to spend on activities and good food too. Also, if you book with a hostel or hotel directly rather than online, you may save significantly.
Night buses and train rides are the ultimate money and time savers. Why waste precious daylight hours sitting on a bus when you could be eating gelato in an Italian piazza? And yes, there's a certain romanticism to a train ride, but if the route isn't particularly scenic, whizz through the countryside when the stars are out, and you can snooze and save on lodging costs.
Social media apps provide plenty of travel inspiration and can elevate your experience. But when the going gets tough, the tough get Tweeting. If you encounter service provider issues and are waiting on a resolution, a public complaint can speed up the process. Reputational damage is more urgent than your private call.
Many travel decisions will come down to whether you're short on money or time. If you're a budget traveler, you might choose to wait in a two-hour-long queue rather than spend on a fast pass, but if you only have 24 hours in a city, you might feel the extra amount is worth it. Do location-specific digging online, and you'll make informed choices and save money and time.