Checking a box on your travel bucket list? Start your planning with these 20 travel hacks

There has never been a better time to cross a dream location off of your bucket list. From home swaps and ride-sharing to vacation rental platforms and underground dining experiences, the world has never been more at our fingertips. But don’t let all of the options overwhelm you. These travel hacks will help you sort through all of the tools and resources that are available finally plan that next big adventure:

  • How to choose a travel destination
  • Tools to help you book airfare and lodging
  • Unique additions to any itinerary
  • Preparing for your trip

How to choose a travel destination

Someone else’s idea of a dream vacation may be very different than your own. Consider what you want to get out of your time away.

Someone else’s idea of a dream vacation may be very different than your own. Consider what you want to get out of your time away.

First, do some dreaming

If you don’t have an exact location in mind, start by doing a bit of research.

  • Go to your local bookstore and flip through some travel magazines
  • Spend some time on Pinterest looking at different travel locations
  • Look at at a good old fashioned map to get some ideas

Determine a budget-friendly spot

If you have a lot of places on your list of potential destinations, determining which fits your budget is a great place to start. Use Kayak’s Explore tool: Set the amount you would like to spend and the timeframe you are considering, and it will let you know which destinations are a match for your requirements.

Figure out what type of vacation you are looking for

Does an adventure sound good to you, or are you more in need of some R&R? Of the places left on your list that are a fit for your budget and timeframe, identify which ones are the best fit for the vacation you would like to take. Consider:

  • Would you rather explore ancient art, or spend your time taking a mental vacation on the beach?
  • Are you looking for a place that’s off the beaten track, or a destination that is easy to get to with conveniences?
  • Are you up for planning a trip that includes lots of excursions, or would you rather not book a planning-intensive trip?

Tools to help you book airfare and lodging

Think outside of the box when it comes to lodging.

Think outside of the box when it comes to lodging.

Now that you’ve selected a location, make sure you take advantage of all of the tools available to help you find the perfect flights and lodging.

Use these travel hacks to book your flight

Before you book your flight:

  • Take advantage of travel rewards. If you don’t yet have a credit card that offers travel rewards, open one. The points add up quickly and could help you save hundreds of dollars on your upcoming trip. Just be sure to book your travel with the card.
  • Clear your cache: Before you book your flight, clear your cache. Some studies show that airlines track your web traffic and hike up fares based upon your searches.
  • Book your flight mid-week. Research shows that flight prices surge on the weekends.
  • Use SeatGuru to find the best seat on the plane.

Find lodging that’s a fit for your needs

Traveling with friends? How about renting a villa in California’s wine country rather than a hotel? Being flexible with your lodging options could lead to unique experiences — and leftover budget for exploring.

  • Consider renting an Airbnb or VRBO rather than a traditional hotel room.
  • See if there is someone who would want to house swap with you.
  • In most travel destinations, there is a hot tourist area and an area that is similar, but more off the beaten path. Do some research and consider taking the road less traveled.
  • Planning last-minute travel? Give HotelTonight a try for great hotel savings.

Unique additions to any itinerary

Be sure to book excursions you definitely want to take in advance to avoid higher fees.

Be sure to book excursions you definitely want to take in advance to avoid higher fees.

Did you know that Airbnb now offers travel experiences, in addition to lodging? From sake tastings in Tokyo with a certified international sake sommelier to sketching classes is Rome with local artists, experiencing a city from a local’s perspective is easier than ever before.

  • Tap into social media: Consider posting your plans for your trip on Facebook or Twitter to do some idea crowdsourcing through people in your network.
  • Make a reservation with EatWith, which offer communal dining experiences in more than 200 cities.
  • If you are staying in a VRBO or Airbnb, touch base with the host for ideas. They are often more than willing to share recommendations with guests in advance and can offer great local insight.  
  • Check out Tripoto for tips from travelers who have been to your travel destination.

Preparing for your trip

Use apps to help you keep everything straight.

Use apps to help you keep everything straight.

Especially if you are taking an international trip, these travel hacks can save you lots of time and money once you reach your destination:

  • As you book airfare and lodging and make reservations, keep things organized. Use a tool like TripIt or TripCase, which both keep all of your receipts, reservations and plans in order for free.
  • Make a few purchases that will keep you and your belongings safe:
    • A TSA luggage lock
    • A powerstrip you can use to charge all of your devices
    • A pen to fill out documents
  • Scan your documents and keep extra copies with you in case your ID is lost or stolen. Make a PDF of them and email them to yourself.
  • Call your credit card company and let them know you will be traveling so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see purchases in a new location.
  • Put a hold on your mail if you will be gone for a while.
  • Consider purchasing a GSM phone. Take it with you, and you can pick up an inexpensive SIM card almost anywhere.

Always travel with an empty water bottle

Because you can’t bring any liquids on a flight, it’s always best to travel with an empty water bottle. Healthy Human’s stainless steel, 100% BPA-free water bottles are made to endure anything your travel and adventures bring your way. Make us your essential travel partner, and visit our blog daily for more healthy human hacks!

Have other travel hacks?

Do you have any great travel hacks that we missed? Let us know about your adventures in the comments section below.