Packing for holiday is a daunting task. You stand there looking at a tiny suitcase wondering how to jam half of your worldly possessions in while leaving room for some souvenirs - all without tipping the excess baggage scales! To make your next trip easier we have put together a list of handy travel hacks:
#1 Have Multiple Sources of Funds
Before you travel to another country, exchange a few hundred Aussie dollars for the destination currency. Even if you plan to use your card most of the time, you might need cash for tipping and small purchases where you can’t use a card. Before you leave home, tell your bank that you are travelling and will be using your cards overseas. Overseas transactions suddenly appearing on your account can trigger a security alert from the bank - the last thing you want is the bank cancelling your card because they believe it's stolen.
#2 Search for Discounts When Booking
No one wants to pay full price if they don’t have to. The same hotel can have a different nightly rate depending on how you book so use comparison sites to get the best deal. Before booking tours and activity, Google the name of the activity followed by ‘discount code’. It’s worth spending a few minutes to find a coupon and save some money. It all adds up when you are travelling. When using online comparison sites we have another sneaky tip - take a look at tip #9 for a way to ensure you get the best deal possible!
#3 Pack Some Essentials in Your Hand Luggage
Lost luggage is more common than you think. If you are checking your baggage, keep some essential items like a toothbrush, hairbrush, medication and deodorant and a least one change of clothes in your hand luggage. That way if your bags get lost or delayed, you’ll still have the things you need most.
If you’re travelling with a partner, put some of your clothes in their suitcase and vice versa. That way if one bag is lost or delayed, you’ll both have a change of clothes. You don’t want to be looking for a department store in a new city just because you need to buy clean clothes.
#4 Organise Your Clothes Before You Go
You don’t need to dress in your Sunday best when you’re travelling, but you want to look like you have put some effort into your appearance. If you are in some happy snaps you want to look…snappy! Before you travel, lay out the clothes you intend to take and arrange them into outfits. Ensure every item has a partner to stop you from carrying clothes you won’t wear. If you don’t think you will remember your outfit combinations while you are away, write them out or take a photo on your phone or you could even roll and tie whole outfits together. When you have culled your wardrobe down to the bare minimum, you’re ready to pack.
Rolling rather than folding clothes saves precious space in your suitcase or backpack and clothes will come out looking a little less creased.
#5 Take a Photocopy of your Important Documents
If you lose your documents while you’re travelling, it’s not only inconvenient but also expensive. Losing your documents just before you are due to leave could see you forfeit a non-transferable plane ticket. If you can’t take a physical paper copy of your papers, take a photo of them with your camera or phone. Keep the photocopy of your passport in a separate bag to the real passport. The quickest way to get a replacement passport is to travel with a passport photocopy and two spare passport photos.
#6 Save Money on Food While Travelling
One of the biggest expenses while travelling is eating out for every meal. Booking an apartment with a kitchen rather can allow you to prepare home-cooked meals and save a lot of money. If a hotel room is the only option, you can still use the bar fridge and kettle. Just making breakfast every morning can save you hundreds of dollars. Keep yoghurt and milk in the refrigerator for making your cereal. Carry a small plastic plate, bowl, cup and cutlery plus a tea towel with you.
#7 If You Feel the Cold
Whether you are going on a ski trip on the east coast of Australia or you are visiting Europe for Christmas, chances are you are going to feel the cold. Warm clothes can be bulky and heavy. Take a packet of Hotteeze with you. The disposable warming pads can be activated by gently squeezing them after removing the packaging. The pad will gradually heat up and can go into pockets, shoes, and gloves to keep hands and toes toasty warm for up to 12 hours.
#8 Protect your Photos
Imagine losing all your photos halfway into a fantastic trip. If you are travelling with another person, have a camera or phone each and make sure you both take pictures. If one of the cameras is lost or stolen, you will still have some photos. An even better alternative is to upload the images to the cloud regularly, so you have more than one copy of your photos.
#9 Use Private Browsing While Booking Flights & Accommodation
Have you ever noticed that you plane ticket prices change each time you visit a website? Hotel and airline sites are known to raise the price because you have visited the site previously. A cookie on your computer tells the website you must be keen on a flight because you have looked it up more than once. To get around this, do your hotel and flight research in private mode. On your Chrome browser click File then select New Incognito Window.
#10 Cheap Ways to Stay in Touch with Home
Get organised early and let friends and family know how to contact you while you're away. They will no doubt want to see photos of your adventures so decide where you will post them. Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and private Facebook groups easy ways to keep in touch with loved ones without costing you a fortune as long as you have an internet connection. If you are travelling on your own, it’s important to keep someone informed of your travel plans and keep in contact with them. In most countries you can buy a prepaid SIM for your phone to use during your trip which will help you avoid expensive roaming charges and make you less dependent on WiFi access.
#11 Invest in Thin Clothing
Warm clothing doesn’t have to be bulky. The latest clothing technology has given us thin fabrics that offer superior wind resistance and warmth. Sure you will pay more, but if you buy one or two quality pieces, you will save yourself valuable space and weight in your luggage. Even if you aren’t heading for the snow, but you still want to keep warm, layering is your friend. Ask yourself if you can get away with a t-shirt followed by a long sleeve top and thin cardigan - it could be as warm as one heavy woollen jumper. One bulky item of clothing can take up more space than the seven T-shirts you are taking.
#12 Download the Right Apps Before You Leave
There are an endless number of apps designed to make a traveller’s life easier and cheaper. Ask friends who have been travelling or research on travel forums to find the best apps for your destination. Most cities now have public transport apps that make it less daunting to figure out which train, bus or tram you need to catch. Klook allows you to book tours, activities and airport transfers at discounted prices in almost 50 Asian cities.
If you are worried about the dreaded jet lag, there’s an app for that too. Jet Lag Rooster lets you enter details of your flight and when you usually sleep to develop a plan on how to shift your sleep pattern to the new time zone, when to get exposure to light and how to reduce travel fatigue.
Sleeping on a plane can be tough, especially if you are in economy class. Block out the noise of the plane and crying babies with Brainwave Tuner. Music that changes the frequency of your brainwaves can help put you in a relaxed mood for sleep.
#13 Learn Another Language For Free
English is widely spoken in so many countries now, but in many places you can’t rely on other people being able to speak the same language as you. While no one expects you to learn another language fluently before you go on holiday, it’s ideal to learn a few phrases so you can ask a local where to get a cup of coffee or locate the nearest toilets. You can pick up a phrase book or, you guessed it, download an app. Duolingo is a free app that uses gamification to teach you a new language while having fun. The Google translate app is also invaluable if you need to have a conversation with someone and neither of you speak each other’s language at all.
#14 Never Forget Your Room Number Again
If you have visited more than a couple of hotels or apartments, it gets hard to remember what floor you are staying on let alone the room number. Sometimes the address alludes you too then you know you’re in trouble. You may not have access to your smartphone if you haven’t bought a SIM card in your new country. To ensure you are never caught without the address, write the details on a small slip of paper and tuck it in a bag or pocket. If you have a phone take a photo of the address. Then if you need to get home, you can show the address to your taxi driver or ask a local for directions.
#15 Charging your Devices
Knowing where and when you can charge your phone next is one of the most stressful parts of travelling for some people. If you accidentally leave your charger at home, you are going to have to try and find one that’s compatible to your device. A good workaround that many people don’t know is this: you can connect a USB cord to most TV’s and charge your phone that way. For times when you aren’t anywhere near a hotel room, take a portable phone charger so you can recharge your phone on the go. No one wants to be stuck without a phone to look up Google Maps.
The other problem is if there are a few of you staying in the one hotel room you can run out of power outlets, so take a small power board with you.
#16 Waterproof your Suitcase or Backpack the Easy Way
The last thing you want is a suitcase full of wet clothes. If wet weather is forecast and you are not going to be able to protect your suitcase from the rain, don’t worry about the outside of the bag too much, worry about the inside. Line your suitcase with plastic bags to keep your clothes dry otherwise you will be looking or a Laundromat in the rain next or spending the night in the hotel bathroom with the little hairdryer.
#17 Pack Your Shoes Like a Pro
The most annoying item to pack are your shoes. They are bulky and can easily bend out of shape in your bag. Everyone wears their biggest, heaviest shoes on the plane to save space and baggage weight but what else can you do? Protect your shoes by packing rolled socks into your shoe. The socks act like shoe trees in keeping the shoe’s shape. Place your shoes and any other heavy items at the bottom of your suitcase closest to the wheels. If the bulk of the weight is at the top of the case, it’s likely to be more difficult to control.
#18 Do your Research at Home
There is a lot to fit in when you are going away, but it’s important you spend some time researching your destination. Swap the time you usually spend reading a novel or looking through your social media feeds by searching online for things to do. TripAdvisor is one of the best sites. It’s a treasure trove of reviews from people who have been there before you. If you are travelling with kids, you can find out what activities will suit your kids. You can also save money, booking or buying tickets in advance to attractions. If you only have a limited amount of time and plenty of activities you want to fit in, write out an itinerary.
#19 Take a First Aid Kit
Even if you are travelling to countries with the best medical care and you’re not leaving the city, it’s important to always carry a first aid kit with you. No one wants to be stuck in a hotel room when a thumping headache suffering until morning because you didn’t pack a painkiller. You don’t need the full kit if medical assistance is nearby, the basics will do. Pack some cough mixture, tablets for a cold, aspirin, diarrhoea medication, bandages and band-aids. If you don’t speak the language, you can get instant relief using medication you brought from home than trying to explain to a pharmacy assistant what you need.
#20 Organise your Travel Insurance When you Book
As soon as you know the dates you are going to be away, arrange your travel insurance. Besides being one less thing you need to worry about in the busy weeks leading up to travel, you may have cover for any unexpected event leading up to your departure.