20 Travel Hacks & Tips

It is officially summer which means it is the start of the travel season for many. So, are you in need of a vacation? Preparing for your trip does not have to be as stressful as you might think with a few helpful hacks and tips from Young Finance 101.

#1: Check into your airline in advance. This will notify the airliner that you will be traveling with them. When you check into the airline you won’t have to worry about getting bumped. If a person or family needs to get aboard, those that have not checked in could be asked to fly at another time or moved to a different seat.

#2: Save money by checking your extra luggage at the gate. Depending on the airline the cost for each additional bag to be checked after your 1st bag is checked for free could cost upwards of $100 each. If you don’t want to pay the additional cost check your extra bag with a flight attendant at the gate.

#3: If you are traveling overseas make sure to make copies of your passport in color along with other cards that you plan to take with you on your trip just in case you lose them or your purse or wallet are stolen.

#4: Leave your passport at your hotel, dorm or AirBnB locked away in your suitcase. Do not take it with you when you are touring the country. If your purse or wallet that you are carrying gets stolen the thief will not have your passport.

#5: Before you leave for your trip make sure that you call your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you will be traveling so that your cards are not flagged and the bank thinks that your card might have been stolen and is being used overseas. The worse thing traveling aboard is your card not working and having to be on the phone with your bank to get everything fixed.

#6: Get approved for TSA Precheck. This will allow you to skip those long lines and not having to take off your shoes, pull out your laptop, and the clear plastic bag of body essentials when going through the screening process.

#7: Call your cell phone provider and let them know that you will be out of the country so that you can sign up for a travel data plan. Depending on your provider they can setup daily plans for you as low $10 a day to talk, text and use your apps while traveling overseas. Don’t forget to do this because if you don’t when you get back home your cell phone bill will be high.

#8: Travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays because it is cheaper. Also, don’t purchase your flight on weekends. The best time to purchase is typically in the middle of the week. Some of the best deals for flights come late at night so if you are willing to stay up or get alerts to wake you up to purchase your next trip, do it.

#9: While traveling aboard, find currency exchange places that don’t charge high fees to exchange your money. Never exchange your money at the airport. They are there to make money on your exchange. Basically making money on your money. The best place if you need cash is to visit an ATM machine. Also, don’t take out more money than you need too. Thieves know that you are a tourist and they except that you will have loads of cash on you. It is better that you only carry around $100 in cash. The rest can go on a card that you brought with you. The cash you can’t get back if stolen, but if your card is stolen you can notify your bank immediately. Many credit card and bank apps now have a “freeze my card” feature so if it is stolen you won’t have to worry about the thieves getting very much. Just in case, bring more than one card from a different bank so that you still have access to funds to get around and continue your tour. Leave that emergency card where you are staying locked away with your passport inside your luggage.

#10: Book your flights with the same airliner. If you have several destination stops and not a lot of layover your luggage could get lost. Booking your flights with the same airline betters your chances of your luggage being on board with you. If you book with several airliners the airport might forget to board your luggage to your final destination. If that happens, be prepared with at least 2 days worth of clothing and essentials in your carry-on until the airport can locate your luggage.

#11: Make sure to pack an International adapter, also known as a universal adapter, with USB ports. Depending on the country that you are traveling to some of the electronics that you bring with you are not going to work in the outlets. An International adapter will allow you to select the country or region that you are in and plug your devices in so that you can still use them overseas. ***Warning*** Make sure that you check the reviews before purchasing your adapter. It might be cheap, but will it work? Also, beauty items such as curling irons and blow dryers might not work overseas even if you have an adapter. The voltage might be too high or low. Keep those at home and purchase those items overseas if you absolutely need them. Using the beauty essentials that you bring from home could explode when they are plugged in so be mindful.

#12: If you are planning to stay in a city for an extended about of time like 3 days or more consider purchasing a MetroCard. This is a refillable card that you can add money to so that you can take the public transportation like trains and buses around the city.

#13: Take a screenshot of your boarding pass and travel information and store it on your phone just in case the signal in the airport is not strong and you can’t access the app or internet on your phone. Most airlines will print out a boarding pass for you before going through TSA, but just in case something happens like you accidentally spill water on your hard copy you have an electronic boarding pass to get on the plane.

#14: Don’t pay ridiculous fees to access WIFI to watch movies on the plane. There are some flight that do offer movies to watch as part of your flying experience, but most of the time, however, those are for flights that are long or overseas.  Instead, download movies that you want to watch on your flight straight to your phone, tablet or computer. Do this in advance since you will need WIFI to download most movies. Netflix allows you to download movies that can play with no internet and while in airplane mode. The same goes for games and other apps that you want to use while traveling.

#15: Save money by packing an empty water bottle. Once you get through TSA screening go to a water fountain and fill up. This will save you at least $2-$3 so you don’t have to buy water at the airport.

#16: Check the weather before you leave for your trip. It might have been Summer-time weather when you last looked at the weather for your destination, but the weather has a sneaky way of changing. It could rain or suddenly become cold. Pack accordingly! You don’t want to have to spend unnecessary money on clothes to wear because you did not pack right and don’t forget the umbrella.

#17: Arrive early at the airport. This should be a no-brainier, but if you are flying internationally you have to go through a lot of security checkpoints throughout the airport including customs. Be prepared to have your passport handy and out.

#18: Have the airline app available on your phone to access in case there are any changes to your flight. This way you will get a notification if your flight is delayed, the gate has changed or any other alerts straight to your phone. Also, don’t just rely on the airline app for notifications. Sometimes information does not update so when you get to the airport or land to hop onto your next flight check the information on the airport monitors to make sure nothing has changed.

#19: Give yourself enough time between flights just in case your flight is delayed. At the most 2 hours or more. Dashing through a busy airport is never fun and you might miss your next flight if you did not plan for the inevitable. Better safe than sorry.

#20: Before you leave the country that you are visiting don’t forget to make your way over the VAT (Value Added Tax) Kiosk. If you want to get the tax money back on items that you purchased you will have to do it at the kiosk machines. VAT is a tax that is added to your purchases to pay for that country’s schools, public transportation, highways etc. Arrive at the airport early because there could be long lines and paperwork that you will need to fill out. The best solution is to sort through all your receipts to see if any of the items that you purchased allow for a VAT refund. Not all items do. You should see the words VAT on the receipt with the amount that you can receive back at the bottom of most receipts. Also, in order to get the refund, you must be willing to give up some of your personal information like a copy of your passport, the debit or credit card number to refund the money too, your airliner and flight information etc. It could take up to 2 weeks to see the refund.

We hope that this information helps you with planning your trip. If you have any tips or hacks that you would like to tell YF101 readers please leave a comment below. Remember, class is always in session.