Warning: this ain’t your everyday list of travel tips.
I am not going to fill this page with tried and true solutions like, “upload a copy of your passport to Google drive before you go.” Although, you should probably do that. I am also not going to tell you to stash your cash in multiple places or consolidate and collect points with one airline. But, again, these are really great tips. Instead, this is a list full of the slightly more bizarre and unusual travel tips. Consider this your list of hidden gems that the travel community stands behind.
I could have used these bits of wisdom yeeeeaars ago. In particular, tip 11 would have come in handy when I lost my luggage in New York City. Guys, I was stuck wearing leggings for days - and, this was way before Lululemon made them cool. Not to mention, tip 4 would’ve come in handy when I left my passport in the hotel in Italy. But, that’s a story for another time.
Don’t make my mistakes, read this list before you go to travel smarter, better, faster, stronger. Here’s how you can step up your travel game using 20 unusual travel tips.
1. Wash your clothes wherever you are.
Load up on travel-size packs of laundry detergent so you can wash your clothes in the bathroom sink. This will save you dollar bills because hotel laundry fees are insane. This will also save you from hanging around the hotel waiting for the dryer to buzz. Bonus tip: Tide makes good, easy-to-pack travel pods.
2. Don’t pick the middle seat If you're flying with a companion.
If you can select your seats online, choose an empty row and select the window and aisle seats. When other people are checking in, they’re less likely to choose the middle seat between you and your partner, giving you a better chance at scoring the whole row to yourselves. If someone does show up, simply say you’d prefer to sit next to your companion. Let’s be real: noone in their right mind will want to be crushed between the two of you. Win-win.
3. Baby wipes aren’t just for babies.
Baby wipes will give you the ultimate refresh after a long-haul flight or get you feeling ready to conquer the day if you have limited time (or energy) to shower on any day of your trip. Seriously, so fresh and so clean.
4. Never forget anything in the safe again!
Forgetful like me? Carry a brightly colored string or paracord. If you use the hotel safe, tie one end to the handle and the other end to something you can't possibly forget, like a suitcase. That way you’ll be sure to empty the safe of all your valuable belongings before flying out of the country.
5. Don’t slow down the line at the airport!
If you’re using a digital boarding pass take a screenshot of it. I’ve held up the line way more than I’d like to admit trying to catch WiFi to pull up my boarding pass from my email. #annoying
6. Avoid theft with duct tape.
You heard that right. If your traveling with expensive camera equipment or electronics, throw a piece of duct tape on it. If your tools looks broken, nobody wants to steal them. Truth.
7. Get the best, free travel agent on reddit.
Post your rough itinerary on r/travel before you go and ask for suggestions. You'll get awesome, often more unique, tips from people that have actually been to the location you’re visiting.
8. Get your body on the time of the your destination ASAP.
Once the plane takes off, set all of your clocks to destination time and immediately act like a local. Eat when they eat, sleep when they sleep. I get that it’s hard - but, so is jet lag!
9. Avoid trouble by checking crime rates.
Some things are too good to be true - like low hotel rates. Check the crime rates in the area you’re staying so you know what you’re getting into. The low prices might not be worth the stress of staying in an area where you're afraid to walk outside.
10. Hack Google Maps.
Fun fact - Google Maps has a hidden offline maps feature that allows you to access your maps without an international data plan. All you have to do zoom to the map area you’re interested while in WiFi and type “OK maps” into the search box. You’ll see a pop-up that reads, “download map?” That will make the map available even when you’re outside of connectivity. Hacked!
11. Have backup clothes in your carry-on.
Pack an outfit in your carry-on. Lost luggage is common and it’s best to have a backup plan. If your baggage does go MIA, be sure to ask the airline what they can offer you in compensation. At the very least, you’ll get a first-class toiletry kit to take with you. If you’re lucky, you might even get reimbursed for the purchase of a change of clothes - new outfit!
12. Add swag to your checked baggage.
Make sure your checked luggage stands out in a good way. It makes identifying your bag at the carousel a much easier task and avoids any possibility of someone taking your bag by accident. If you’re feeling cheap, duct tape sells a ton of distinctive patterns. I’m talking cheetah print.
13. Buy a tablet and load it up with videos and ebooks.
This is the only travel companion you’ll ever need. Not only does it help pass the time on flights, but it also helps you when there are limited English channels available in your hotel room. Bring on the Kindle or any other tablet!
14. Ask for more on the plane!
Seriously, get confident and ask for the whole can of club soda and the flight attendant will happily hand it over. Beats the regular child-size sip.
15. You don’t even need bottled shampoo and conditioner.
I've discovered bar shampoo and conditioner and it’s a life-changer. Top reasons to convert: 1) bar products won't explode in your bag, 2) they can be stored in your carry on if you're not checking luggage 3) they last at least as long as a full bottle.
16. Pack waterproof bags.
If you’re travelling to tropical countries, little waterproof bags will be your best friend. If your bag fails to keep out the humidity, all your electronics and documents will be protected AF.
17. Get a microfibre towel.
It dries 1000 times faster than a regular towel and packs up extremely small. These are ideal if you’re in a hostel where towels aren’t provided. You can get a pack of 3 for cheap on Amazon.
18. Get a travel hobby.
If you're traveling solo, you should consider taking up photography as a hobby. I truly believe it’s the best way to have fun and see a city when you're on your own.
19. Be one of the first people to board in your seating group.
If you board too late, your luggage might not fit in the overhead bins and be redirected to cargo, meaning it'll take longer for you to get off the plane. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
20. Honestly, the best secret is - excuse my language - not giving an eff!
If you let the delays, lost luggage, and wrong directions get the best of you, your trip will be a nightmare. Relax and remember that it’s all part of the adventure!