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Tony Wright

Seattle, Washington

What's your best travel hack?

My wife and I traveled for 10 months and amassed a pile of little clever hacks around everything from booking tickets/hotels, researching a destination, getting to know the locals, finding the best food, navigating in strange cities and more...  But I'm sure there are travelers out there who have clever hacks that we never stumbled onto.  I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

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22 Answers

  • Benedict Leung

    top answer by

    Here are just a few:

    Airline Planning / Booking:

    Hidden City Booking: Sometimes ABC - DEF is $500, but ABC - DEF - GHI is $100. Book the ABC - DEF - GHI flight, but conveniently "miss" your GHI flight.

    Fuel Dumping: Adding a tag on flight that "dumps" the fuel on your ticket. Savings significant if fuel (YQ) is high. (Eg. $300 off a US - EU Flight)

    Hotel Planning / Booking:

    IHG Friends & Family for Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn Hotles: 15% off advance purchase off any IHG branded hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc). Don't necessarily have to be "Friends nor Family" of IHG employee.

    Better Bidding for Priceline / Hotwire: Better Bidding has most major U.S. cities' hotels unmasked given amenities displayed on Hotwire.

    On the Ground:

    Leftover Currency: Have leftover currency, find a Starbucks, and put it on your card. No FX fees charged.

    Phoning Abroad: Find an unlocked phone, use One Sim Card in, and use a call back number which calls you back. Because of unlimited incoming, you'll get dirt cheap int'l calls.

    Here are just some that might be useful, willing to add a bunch more!

    Update:

    Question from Rudy A. : For hidden city bookings, I assume you are booking one way tickets?

    Answer: Yes, that is correct. For hidden city bookings, you would want to make sure that it is (i) One Way and that there is (ii) No Checked Luggage.

    (i) One Way: Missing the last segment of your itinerary automatically invalidates all unflown segments. Let's say you booked ABC - DEF - GHI - JKL. Let's say that you "miss" your DEF - GHI flight. When you no show DEF - GHI, the GHI - JKL segments gets invalidated as well.

    (ii) No Checked Luggage: If you check luggage, your luggage will be checked to your final destination. So if your flights are ABC - DEF - GHI, your luggage will be checked to GHI. So, don't check luggage.

    Please see further notes at the bottom for more details. Here's a case study so that everyone's on the same page.

    Case Study: Let's say that I am currently in Raleigh Durham and want to visit my friend Chase during Christmas in Philly. I search online and want to book the following flight:General Trippy MediaAs you can see, it's a bit expensive, pricing out at approximately $364on US Airways Flt 5747 leaving at 7:00am and arriving at 8:27am onSunday, December 21st. I do a little digging and find the following flight to Washington, D.C.:

    General Trippy MediaAs you can see, there are two flights, the first, the exact same flight as above, US Airways Flt 5747 from RDU to PHL leaving at 7:00am and arriving at 8:27am on Sunday, December 21st. There is an additional flight on US Airways Flt 5834 from PHL to DCA leaving at 11:35am and arriving at 12:35pm. The total cost for the following flights is $112.60.

    Hidden City Nets 70% / $252 in Savings: Booking the second itinerary to Washington, D.C. through Philly nets a savings of approximately $252 / 70% off the $364 given that you are only paying $112.

    ----------------------

    Further Notes: (i) Airlines Do Not Like Hidden City: Airlines do not like it when passengers book this since this represents loss substantial revenue to them. I wouldn't be doing this on a constant basis since they may start noticing patterns of you "accidentally" missing flights and may take action against you since this may technically break their terms and conditions. (ii) Watch Out for IRROPS / Irregular Operations: During irregular operations such as a snowstorm, your flight may get canceled. You might be re-routed, and put on a direct flight or a flight that does not stop in Philly, for example. You would want to make sure that you have a good story to back up that of why you need to connect in Philly. (Eg. I am meeting Aunt Sally at the airport to drop off my Xmas Present to Little Cousin Nick before heading off to D.C).

    Hope this helps everyone! Happy traveling!

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    • Tony W.

      Tony W.

      The starbucks thing is BRILLIANT. · (1 likelikes)

    • Jillian G.

      Jillian G.

      Love the Starbucks tip! · (0 likelikes)

    • Rudy A.

      Rudy A.

      For Hidden City Booking, I assume you are booking one way tickets? · (0 likelikes)

    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Awesome answer, Benedict. I love all of these! By the way, I'm a community manager here and I wanted to let you know that we helped you consolidate your update into your answer so that all your details, comments, and votes are in one place! In the future, you can just hit the "edit" button above your answer :) · (2 likelikes)

    • Z H.

      Z H.

      Thanks for these! What do you mean by "Adding a tag on flight that "dumps" the fuel on your ticket"? Also I'm not sure I get the Starbucks tip - are you saying that Starbucks will take your change and credit your credit card - really? · (0 likelikes)

    • Jeff S.

      Jeff S.

      Nice tips - please 'splain more on the fuel dumping and IHG tricks - how do they work? · (2 likelikes)

    • Tony A.

      Tony A.

      I think you need to clarify to the readers that you are actually paying US Airways for a RDU to DCA fare. And if PHL airport happens to close or suffer from ground delay, USAir can simply reroute you. In fact there are 6 nonstops from RDU to DCA and many connecting flights via Charlotte and La Guardia. USAir can legally reroute you to any one of these flights. · (0 likelikes)

    • JR J.

      JR J.

      I'd love a little more detail on the "fuel dumping" and how to take advantage of that. Also, how do you get the Friends and Family at IHG properties... is there a code for online booking? thanks Benedict!! · (0 likelikes)

    • Tereza V.

      Tereza V.

      OMG! This is really the best travel hack I've ever heard about! Thanks a lot! Especially for your detailed answer · (0 likelikes)

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  • Supun Edirisinghe

    answered by

    Here's a golden nugget to try and see if it'll work for you. I'm doing Kili in December!

    I had booked a flight from Kilimanjaro International Airport to Julius Nyerere International Airport on fastjet.com. When I booked for 2 people, I paid $267 for the one way fare. But then my friend who's already in Tanzania said that when she looked at prices it was like $80 cheaper.

    There's a Firefox and Chrome extension called hola that you can use to spoof your location. When I booked using hola my my price for the same 2 tix dropped to 319,000 Tanzanian Shillings = $185US! So I booked that and canceled my previous booking.

    Leave a comment if this works for you too.


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    • Nalin M.

      Nalin M.

      Thanks for the great tip. · (1 likelikes)

    • JR J.

      JR J.

      hola is a chrome extension too :) · (1 likelikes)

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    2. Julius Nyerere International Airport (attraction)

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  • Howard C

    answered by

    I have found the use of vacuum storage bags gives me 7-10 days worth of clothes in a small carry on bag. When you get to the hotel ask to borrow their vacuum and ask to borrow theirs to repackage you clothes

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    • Emily D.

      Emily D.

      They also have "vacuum" storage bags for travel. You just roll the bag down and the air squeezes out! They don't get quite as flat as a true vacuum bag, but it gets the job done when you are somewhere where you don't have access to a vacuum! http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/3/travel-vacuum-bags · (1 likelikes)

    • Travis A.

      Travis A.

      One question: do you find the vacuum bags actually seal? I've had tons of trouble with them "releasing" over a short period of time. (I also find it hard to get vacuum bags small enough to put a bunch in a carry-on). Advice from times I've tried to do this: check in online and print your pass at home. If you check in online but have to print at the airport they may weigh your carry-on and the density of the clothes makes it HEAVY. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Janelle Kennedy

    answered by

    1. Buy a box of large size "magnum" condoms and roll them over bottles of sunscreen, perfume, lotion, toothpaste or anything else with a top (roll it top end first) that can come off in transit. The tight rubber will hold the tops in place so the contents don't spill and make a mess in your luggage.

    2. If you're a single female traveller and not travelling with a man, wear a ring on your finger to make it appear as though you're married. You'll have much less risk of sexual harassment when you're out in public, and if you go out for the night hoping to meet guys you can always take it off.

    3. If you go to the beach in Europe, buy a cheap chair at a supermarket and bring it with you. Most European beaches provide chairs, but there are never enough, and if the beach gets crowded people start fighting over them. Save the trouble by bringing your own. When it's time to go back home give it to a local or donate it to your hotel.

    4. NEVER book transport or accommodation through third party sites such as Hotels.com, Expedia or Orbitz. They're useful tools for finding options and comparing prices, but if you book with them and something goes wrong, good luck getting through to a live person who can resolve the problem, and you'll have little to no recourse. Find the price you want on the third party site, then go directly to the airline or hotel and book through them. At least 90% of the time you'll find that same price you found on the third party site.

    5. NEVER book air transport on an ultra-LCC carrier (e.g. Ryanair, Wizzair, Spirit, Allegiant, Air Asia) if you're travelling with checked luggage. The ancillary fees for luggage are so high you'll end up spending the same amount as if you booked on a full-service carrier. Ultra-LCCs are good for short trips with minimal luggage but not worth the hassle for longer trips with more luggage.

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  • Rakesh Agrawal

    answered by

    One that I used a lot: If you fly to the same place a lot (in my case, it was from the United States to India) and round trip tickets from one city vs. the other city are less expensive, this is a good one.

    I would start by buying a one-way ticket from Houston to New Delhi and then I would buy round trips from New Delhi to Houston... I might have 4-5 months between the New Delhi to Houston leg and the "return" segment (Houston to New Delhi). The "return" segment of that ticket would be the beginning of my next trip. Eventually, when I didn't have a next trip on the horizon, I would just buy a one-way ticket from New Delhi to Houston.

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    • Supun E.

      Supun E.

      that same strategy worked for a freind that would visit Germany 2x an year · (0 likelikes)

    • Asgar A.

      Asgar A.

      I forgot the term used but the Airlines are long on to this and if the travel is not used sequentially they retain the right to render the the tickets invalid, on the spot, forcing the purchase of an expensive one ticket to get back. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Jaleh Najafali

    answered by

    I like listening to podcasts and reading blogs before I go to a new location when trying to find must-see things, restaurants, etc. because they tend to be more honest/reliable than anything that pops up on Yelp or TripAdvisor. If I'm staying in a small hostel, I tend to ask the person running it because they often give affordable, accurate suggestions, whereas a big hostel or hotel tends to give more generic, forgettable answers.


    As far as booking a ticket goes, I like to search incognito and go to a few different sites like STATravel or Kayak before actually making a purchase. I also try and book a flight midweek, like Tuesday, since that tends to provide me with better deals.

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  • Tereza Vítková

    answered by

    #1 When booking flights and hotels online enable private browsing. Travel sites often track your visits and will raise the price simply because you've visited before.

    #2 When reserving seats for two people, choose the aisle and window seats. If no one takes the middle seat, then you get the full row, and if someone does, then just ask to switch seats so you can sit next to your partner.

    #3 Put enough clothes in your carry-on bags for the first day or 2 of your trip. On long flights with multiple stopovers, packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on long haul, multiple stop flights. You don't want to be hunting for a pair of shorts immediately after your arrival in a new city or country.

    #4 Avoid jet lag by getting plenty of exercise the day before you leave, which will also help you sleep on the plane. When you arrive in your destination, get plenty of fresh air, to further stave off jet lag.

    #5 Have a secret stash of spare cash rolled up in an empty lip balm tube or lipstick.

    General Trippy Media

    #6 Send a postcard to yourself back home each day of your holiday. It'll be a nice surprise to come home to, and you can add them to any travel memory montage you create!

    #7 Take photos, not photocopies, of your documents and email them to yourself. Will help you a lot if you loose any important documents or your bag on your travels.

    #8 If you need someone to take a photo for you on holiday, pick a family with kids. They're almost guaranteed not to make off with your camera!

    General Trippy Media

    #9 On the last day of your trip to a foreign country, collect all of your loose changeand give it to the homeless.

    #10 Make friends with a local! Why do you travel in the first place? To experience the culture of wherever you're going, right? If you want to experience a place like a local, you could spend some time asking the bar staff where the best restaurants and pubs are, but you could also actually have them show you around.

    For more details & pictures. check out the original blog post: 17 Travel Hacks You Absolutely Need To Know

    Happy travels!

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    • Courtney R.

      Courtney R.

      The private browsing suggestion is brilliant! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Ozgur Alaz

    answered by

    Some additional hacks


    1. Read a book about architecture. After you learn, basic terms of buildings and arts, you will enjoy your trip more. You will get instant ideas while you are looking at that buildings.

    2. If travel means "inspiration" for you, i recommend to use "Noto" apps for iphone. If you want to take photos, write notes and record. Noto is the most convenient app. Alternatively, i recommend "Quip" for note-taking.

    3. When you walk through x-ray at airport. Firstly put your coat, then put your luggages. Because, the first item you put the x-ray, gets out firstly. While you wait your luggage, you can wear on your coats again. You can save some seconds.

    ...

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    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Great tips! I always do #3. Plus, important stuff last. I always get nervous if my laptop, phone, etc, get out before I do! · (1 likelikes)

    • Amanda M.

      Amanda M.

      I never thought about #3. Great tip! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Ed Balogh

    answered by

    I think I have three good ones. First, Google to find charge cards with 40-50,000 bonus miles just for applying. I currently have three and replace them when the year is up and they want to charge the annual fee. Haven't bought an airline ticket with cash in five travel-heavy years.


    Second, while you're out of the U.S., get your prescriptions filled and consider deferred medical procedures. When I was on prescription Zantac for reflux, the difference in price for a years supply was enough to cover the entire cost of an annual two week vacation in a Mexican beach resort of my choice. Based on experience, I've learned there is nothing to fear from seeing a country doctor in Uruguay, a Mexican dentist, or a Hungarian pharmacist. I am writing this from San Miguel de Allende, where on this visit, a tooth broke. Nine days and 3500 pesos later, I have a new crown and enough savings to cover my month-long stay in a VRBO apartment here. Quality-wise, my foreign experiences have consistently been superior to the U.S.

    Third, while at home, never throw out your underwear! Wash it one last time and pack it for your next trip. With disposable underwear in your suit case, everyday you're making a little more room for the souvenir T-shirts you will be bringing home and not repacking dirty underwear. And...there have been certain trips where I felt fortunate my undies were tossible!

    Fourth, If you need to spend some time in Salt Lake City, you can't do better than book it at Off-Broadway Studios!



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  • Jeremi Rabalais

    answered by

    Check Living Social and Groupon for cities you will be traveling to to see if you can get deals on restaurants or attractions.

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  • Courtney C.

    answered by

    Buddy Up!

    A lot of people don't believe in hiring someone to hold your hand while traveling, but in a lot of situations, good guidance is a good idea.

    You’re not the first person seeking escape from everyday life. The instinct is to do everything yourself. In some destinations, that simply isn't practical.

    Two examples:

    1. Hired help for outdoor adventures

    If you're visiting a National Park as massive and wild as, say Yellowstone National Park chances are you want to explore, wander around in nature, and get distance from visitor centers and tourist trails; I get it. Don’t assume that hiring someone to show you around is on par with group activities and singing Kumbaya around a campfire. In reality, local guides and tour groups are the gateways to the quieter terrain. You're paying them so you can tell them to leave you alone when you get there.

    2. When you don't speak the language, meet someone who does.

    If you don't have time to learn Spanish before you go to Mexico, make a Spanish-speaking friend when you get there. I know it sounds obvious but most people find this to be daunting once they've arrived. They're secretly embarrassed if not shy. Having a bilingual buddy not only helps you get around, it helps you pick up the language faster.


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  • Courtney Robinson

    answered by

    After being robbed of my passport once while in a foreign country, I learned the hard way to always travel with passport replacement pictures in the size required by your country. Finding a place that can do that outside your own country, at least, if you're an American, can be VERY, very difficult!

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  • Jade Morgan

    answered by

    Rolling my clothes instead of folding them. Transferring shampoo, body wash, handwash and lotion into smaller containers. I bring a pair of foldable ballet flats in case my flip-flops or shoes break. Choosing to go on a dental holiday for major dental treatments as it allows me to save a fraction of the cost. I had my dental implants at Thantakit Dental in Bangkok. Also, booking for a Tuesday or Wednesday as the day of departure is oftentimes cheaper. An extension cord really come in handy as well.

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  • Tony A.

    answered by

    If you really want to learn how to hack well, you can go to the forum in travelcodex or flyertalk. Hacking is a serious hobby over there.


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  • Michelle C

    answered by

    We've recently gotten into "travel hacking" with airline award programs and credit card bonuses. This year my husband and I are both flying round-trip flights to France/Switzerland and Jamaica completely on award miles. Many of these miles have been accumulated with the Alaska Airlines award program, which is one of the best out there (we also get companion tickets on Alaska which allow us to visit my husband's family in Hawaii over the holidays for almost a $900 discount). If you are responsible with credit and do your homework, this is a valid way to increase travel. Our credit scores have actually gone up since we've started.

    I put together a whole guide on my blog which is currently available for free: Guide to "Travel Hacking" With the Alaska Airlines Award Program

    I also highly recommend comprehensive guide by Chris Guillbeau (not free but worth every penny): Frequent Flyer Master

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    • Andrey Y.

      Andrey Y.

      Hmm.. I will soon be moving to Alaska after living in Hawaii for 5 years, and I was researching the Alaska travel card. It seemed not impressive at all! So please fill me in :) How is it any better than Chase Sapphire preferred where you can transfer points to many different airlines (I usually transfer to united mileage plus). Also with this program, I've found you need not very many points per flight. The perks from the Alaska card seemed very mediocre to me.. your thoughts? · (0 likelikes)

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  • Hazel B

    answered by

    Take a backpack put medications in it. Watch youtube videos on Altoids emergency kit. Buy what you need when you get there. Wear pants that unzip into shorts. TShirt, Shirt, Parka. pack .99 cents flip flops for showers.

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  • Kelly R.

    answered by

    Take along a 3-way plug with you so that more than one person can charge phones, etc. Comes in handy if there is limited outlets in hotel room.

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  • Kelly R.

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    Here's a small travel hack but worth it...pack a clothespin to hold those darn hotel drapes closed, so you wake up when you want to.

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    • Travis A.

      Travis A.

      I love this! I keep an old carabiner on my backpack just for this reason. · (1 likelikes)

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  • Robert Johnston

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    One is to use a soft-side cooler with a plastic tub (not the leaky foldup ones) as one of your carry on items. I would have my g/f put her purse inside. The one I've used around the world is from California Innovations. It works perfectly for drinks at the beach, a picnic, or added cool storage in your room if there isn't a fridge. In addition, next time you buy a 25lb bag of ice from a Water N Ice type store, don't just rip the bag apart but insead cut the tie or slice one end if it's still in good shape and of a thick mil plastic. Then put that bag in the pockets of your carryon cooler or other carryon and use it to fill ice at the hotel ice machine instead of that tiny bucket. I have one in every piece of luggage and my cooler and they've lasted for years. In an emergency they can become a decent size sheet of plastic to cover items or yourself, make a water still, or transport water etc. On road trips to hot destinations such as Las Vegas I'll use it to keep a large rolling cooler I keep in my room full of ice instead of paying for expensive bags from the hotel or having to make an extra stop somewhere.

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  • Hazel B

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    l carry empty water bottle through security and fill it up on the other side. I like $100 in $5&$1 for tipping as l travel. l tip the maids $5. As my mother traveling with 7 kids taught us.

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