Life Kinetic’s Top 12 Travel Hacks

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I have been traveling for decades.  And over the years I have developed some tried and true travel hacks.  Here are those that have become second nature. 

  1. Conduct a final room sweep to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.  This is advice that a lot of people will give you but there is one big foot stomp.  It HAS TO BE THE VERY LAST THING YOU DO.  It is so last minute that someone watching you would think it is an afterthought.  Your coat and shoes are on.  Your bags are packed and out of the room.  Your carry on and purse are on your person or also out of the room.  It is only then that your brain won’t play tricks on you and make excuses.  “Looks like everything but my sunglasses but of course I will grab those as I walk out the door”  — but of course you never do. 
  2. Don’t automatically just book a round trip ticket.  Also look into one-way tickets, multiple airlines, or even two separate round-trip tickets.  It will almost always be cheaper to fly into a hub.  And that hub will then have cheaper options and more extensive options to a smaller destination.  As an example, I currently live in Guam.  A round trip ticket from the United States will cost approximately $1800.  However, if you search for a ticket to Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore or Manila, you may find a deal as low as $500. You can then book another roundtrip ticket to Guam that will only cost $300-$500.  This is one example but I could give you hundreds.  If located in the United States and going overseas, check the cost of tickets from JFK, Atlanta, Chicago and LA to the nearest hub like Frankfurt, Paris, London, Dubai, Singapore etc…  Vice versa if you live in Asia, Africa, or Europe.   Also multi-stop tickets or one way tickets can be cheaper.
  3. In almost every country plan on using the airport ATM to exchange for local currency.  Argentina is one notable exception where very few ATMs actually work and they dispense such small amounts you need to make multiple stops in a single day.  Also have some hard currency as back up.  You don’t need a lot of hard currency, just enough to get you out of a jam.  I usually budget $100 USD a week.  You want a little in the smallest available bill ($1 USD / 5 Euro) and the rest in 20s (no 50s or 100s). 
  4. I have a separate travel account that is only used for travel.  If the account were to ever become compromised, it will only have a limited amount of money in it, and the card is not connected to any of my bills or pay check.  This means if it is canceled it doesn’t affect anything else.  Also make sure your bank doesn’t charge ATM fees or foreign transaction fees.
  5. Do some research on the front end of your trip. Even if you want to be completely carefree and have no plan, I think some upfront research is important so you know what your options are and don’t waste time!
  6. Use the room’s tea kettle to boil water to brush your teeth.  This will cut down on the amount of water you have to treat or buy.  I boil a pot before going to bed so it will cool down by morning and do the same right before I leave my room for the day. 
  7. Always travel with a reusable water bottle.  This drastically cuts down on plastic waste.  Even if you don’t want to filter, boil or otherwise treat your water, you will often find sources for clean water and want to be able to take advantage of it. 
  8. My top 4 essential apps:  maps.me (off line maps); Klook (great transfer options and small day tours), splitwise (keeping track of costs when traveling with a group) and a currency convertor. 
  9. Have a small bag that stays on your person at all times.  This can be a cross body purse, a fanny pack or a small back pack.  This is not for everything you are carrying. The intent is to keep it to the essentials:  passport, cash, credit card, and phone.  Keep it light so it never leaves your body.
  10. Have a separate wallet / small purse for local spending money.  I always travel with a change purse that I use for local spending money.  At the start of each day I set aside what I think I’ll need for the day and then keep the rest of my money separately.  This prevents me from standing in a market or store riffling through my money.  And if the pouch is ever lost or stolen, it doesn’t have everything.
  11. Have duplicates of toiletries and cords.  They aren’t expensive and you will eventually need them anyway (it also means you have a backup at home in case of an emergency).  But for travel, this means you can pack them early and not have to wait until the last minute. 
  12. Have a packing list.  This might seem self-explanatory but this does two things – one it helps you remember location specific items (bathing suit, snow boots etc..).  As you are planning your trip, and as you think of things, write them down.  It also helps provide a last-minute check before you walk out the door of important items. 

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