Are you looking to up your travel game? Here are a few tips that may help your next trip run as smoothly as possible.

Travel smarter with these tips.

1. Collect an arsenal of travel apps.

It’s 2018 and tech-savvy travel nerds have cornered the digital market on apps that make traveling easier for all of us. Flight search apps and web interfaces like Skyscanner make it simple to search for (and book) the cheapest options out there. With Skyscanner, you can search by destination and even narrow the itinerary down to the cheapest month.

If you don’t want to shop around but have a particular itinerary in mind, use Hopper. This app was designed to analyze airfare trends and predict the optimal time period for booking certain flights. For example, I want to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt in December but I’m not sure when to book the flight. Hopper gives me a visualization of the daily prices for this flight. It will also warn me when prices are likely to go up.

Apps like Skyscanner and Hopper should be on every smart traveler’s phone!

2. If you don’t have to check a bag, don’t.

Instead, pack light or learn to pack efficiently. There are heaps of great products that were designed to help you accomplish this (cubes, air compressors, the roll method, etc.). Typically checked bags come with pretty hefty fees. In many cases, you do not need a checked bag.

You are often allowed a carry-on and a personal item on the plane, and carry-ons are certainly large enough to outfit your weekend getaway. Also, having my stuff safely shoved either above my head or in front of my feet during the flight gives me a sense of peace knowing that I don’t have to guess whether my checked bag made it into the cargo holds on the right flight or accidentally wound up on another flight.

3. If you do check a bag, mark it.

Many of your fellow travelers likely have the same Earth-toned roller bag as you do, but there are ways to make yours stand out. Bandanas, stickers, bag covers, personalized tags, and colorful duct tape are ways by which you can mark your territory and avoid waiting for the baggage carousel to revolve several times before mistakenly picking up a bag that belongs to somebody else.

Some airlines (i.e. Delta) will let you know when your bag makes it into the holds as well as when your bag is scanned out of the holds. Download airline apps for notifications.

4. Check in online, and use your phone as a boarding pass.

For most flights, you’ll be able to check in online 24 hours in advance. Most likely, your airline will send you an email notification with a barcode that you can then use as a boarding pass. Forget standing in line to print one at the desk, or even at a kiosk. Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to scan your passport through scanners that only sometimes work. Thanks, technology.

5. Learn to speed-read.

You’d think I wouldn’t have to say this, but reading is important. In the airport, there are signs directing you where to go, where the gates are located, where the baggage carousels are, where you can catch a taxi, etc. There should be no excuse to accidentally exit the terminal and then have to go through security all over again. Learn to selectively identify what it is that you’re looking for, and follow that arrow. 

6. Bring your own headphones.

Airlines want to keep us quiet and content, so many of them have loaded movies, TV shows, music albums, travel maps, and games onto our own personal screens. For longer flights, I recommend watching super long movies that don’t make sense to watch in any other setting.

Out of another vein, I recommend watching sci-fi films like Gravity or Interstellar. I have to admit; watching Gravity mid-air while flying at night was pretty cool. While you can get headphones from the cabin crew, they often aren’t included and they usually aren’t top quality. I always bring my Bose headphones, so bring your own. 

7. Protect your documents.

While the obvious course of action is to keep your passport and credit cards on you at all times, keeping a physical hold on your documents will not protect you from electronic skimmers. If you wish, you can buy an RFID-blocking wallet that blocks attempts at RFID skimming. However, RFID hacking is far less common than ATM or fuel pump skimmers.

Keep an eye out for false card slots and false keypads, and protect your PIN from any cameras located on or near the ATM or fuel pump. Since these devices can be easy to miss, keep a close watch on your cards and bank account. If something isn’t right, contact your bank or lender immediately.

What are some of your favorite travel tips?



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