Let’s be real here for a second. There are so many things that could go wrong on any trip. You could forget your passport, your luggage could be lost, you could get delayed and miss your next flight because of severe weather.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a vacation or a business trip, you have to be prepared and have a back-up plan in the event things don’t go as planned! As Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” And this isn’t about being negative. No. It’s about being realistic and planning well so you can fully enjoy your vacation time.
I’m not talking about making a plan in the event of a zombie apocalypse, tsunami, or an alien invasion (that’s when you RUN!), I’m talking about those little annoyances that happen to almost every weary traveler at some point in their journeys.
Before you head out on your next trip, I’m here to make things easier and keep you organized, so sit back, grab your pen and paper, and start taking notes (or push print on your laptop, your choice)!
1. Ninja Booking Techniques
Have you ever checked the price of a ticket on a Monday and then went back on Thursday, just to see that the ticket price had been raised by about a hundred bucks? Did you kick yourself for not buying that ticket sooner?
If this sounds familiar then you are not alone. There’s a reason why those prices rise and a guarantee that they’ll keep rising further the more often you check it. You see, travel companies use your browser cookies to pinpoint your location (your IP address) and then when they see repeated price checks from your computer, they bump the price up. This creates urgency, and forces you to act now, in the fear of even further jumps.
It’s logical, really. You want a ticket, they want money. The more you check the ticket availability, the more they realize you really want to go there… so they raise the price giving you a fear of eventual unaffordability, while raking in the extra money themselves. It should be a crime… but it isn’t.
There is a way to get around it however. Instead of using your own PC to check prices, use a public computer at an Internet shop or the library instead. That way, you’re not letting those ticket people know it’s YOU every time, and the price doesn’t rise. Another option is to clear your cache and browser history. Or use Safari to check once and then Chrome the next time you check.
2. Check the Forecast
Europe is a big place and there are many different climates. If you want to make your trip more comfortable, and be assured you aren’t wearing shorts in a snowstorm, make sure to check the weather forecast of your destination. For example, if you’re going anywhere near England, Scotland, or Ireland you can most certainly expect rain (and lots of it)! Besides, it’s usually kind of awkward to go up to strangers and ask them to share their umbrella or sun screen.
3. Find the Address of the Embassy
The world is an unstable place. In order to best protect yourself when travelling to another country, make sure you know the address of your local embassy. If for some reason there is a global pandemic or rebel unrest where you’re travelling, then you know where to go so you’re protected and can actually get out of the country you’re visiting. It’s also good to know where the embassy is in the event you run into some legal trouble or lose your passport.
4. Shop Around
Don’t buy the first ticket you see. Check many sites and get different quotes not only on your flight ticket but also on vacation packages. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy your ticket and stay in a hostel, but other times it’s cheaper and more convenient to purchase your entire vacation package all at once through a travel agency. Shop around. It’s worth it. I’d suggest CheapTickets.nl (it’s a Dutch travel site with great offers), Momodo, or maybe a private travel agent that has insider information on tickets and special discounts because of the quantity of tickets he or she purchases for clients.
5. Make a PRO Packing List
If you don’t remember what it is that you forgot on your LAST trip, then girl, you are in trouble! The first rule of travel packing is to pack the essentials (your passport and ID should be in your purse at all times). You will need your toothbrush, make-up essentials (just the essentials), your hair brush, and clothes.
When it comes to packing clothes, pack for the temperature at your destination. Make sure to pack one pair of panties for each day, and two pairs of shoes (a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a pair of evening dress shoes). Limit your clothing options as well. If you’re going for a week, pack one outfit for each day and a fancy evening dress just in case you need it. Check our article about carry-on packing hacks.
6. Create a Music Playlist
Are you taking this trip with your family or your boyfriend? Are you trying to block out the noise of other passengers? Whichever the case may be, you could always use a little “you” time when you’re travelling, so make sure to take your favorite tunes so you don’t have to listen to other’s idle chatter.
7. Buy Some Books or Magazines
Travelling can be all kinds of fun, but when you take long flights you don’t always want to listen to the passenger beside you tell you their “interesting” life story. In fact, you probably don’t even want them to know you speak the same language, you just want to enjoy your freedom and relax your mind.
Put a good book or magazine in your carry-on bag. A comedy that’s easy to read is going to be more suitable for you because it’ll help you stay in a lighthearted mood. There’s no reason to stress your mind. If you’re not sure what to read, check out our list of super-inspirational books.
8. Get Some Snacks
Those airplane peanuts aren’t exactly fulfilling, are they? Instead of spending all your hard earned trip money on in-flight snacks, take advantage of the small shops in the airport and grab yourself some trail mix or potato chips to put in your carry-on as well. You might not think you’re hungry now, but sitting in an airplane for hours will certainly make you want something to chew on.
9. Check Your Cellular Plan
One often overlooked travel hack is the cell phone. Call your mobile carrier and make sure you have an extended plan so you don’t get roaming charges when you’re out of your own country. If it’s too expensive to use your cell phone, you can purchase a cheap pay as you go mobile in any country. Trust me when I tell you that this will save you a lot of money later on!
10. Search Places to Visit
Before you head off on your trip, do a little research. Make sure you have a very strict itinerary and you know where you’re going to go. Every country has amazing places to visit and sights to see, so choose them before you head out on your trip and save yourself a lot of headache and heartache later on.
11. Check for the Little Known Less Touristy Places
Although there are some things that are an absolute must when you’re on vacation, don’t let the little things slip by you. Yes, you must see the Vatican City and Colosseum when you’re in Rome, you absolutely have to see the Eiffel tower in Paris, and the pyramids are a must in Egypt!
Don’t let those touristy places be the only places you visit, though. If you research your intended country well enough you’ll see that there are many little-known spots that are just as beautiful or fascinating for you to travel to as well. The smaller and less known places are also often much less expensive and definitely less crowded.
12. Eat on a Budget
When it comes to food, eating out every night is going to get pricey! There are a few different things you can do to help make things easier on your food budget. You can eat at smaller, less popular and less fancy restaurants and opt for the mom and pops diners instead. Find out where the locals go.
You can order large quantities and take the leftovers back to your hotel so you can heat them up for dinner tomorrow, or you could run to the local shop and get yourself some bread, meat, and cheese and live off sandwiches on your vacation. A good idea is to rent an apartment instead of stay at a hotel, if you’ve got a small kitchen, you can shop where the locals do and cook yourself.
Either way, sandwiches may not be the most romantic, but they are much easier on your wallet.
13. Learn Some Useful Phrases
If you’re going to be in another country, at least learn a few important key phrases in case you need to know what’s going on. Know how to ask where the train and bus stations are, where the restroom is, what time it is, and to ask for the police. The more comfortable you are speaking the language, the better you will be at getting around.
It’s also important to be able to understand what’s going on around you just in case you find yourself in a bad situation. While most vacations go without incident, you still have to be wary of your surroundings and know your way around the land and the language.
14. Know the Local Customs and Laws
The laws in your country could vary vastly from the laws in the country you’re visiting. It’s important to understand that being unaware of the law does not make you exempt from the law. For example, you could be thrown in jail for jay walking or littering in some countries!
Knowing and respecting the law is not only essential for your own safety, it’s also respectful to the people in the country you’re visiting. You don’t want to be a rude guest, do you?
15. Know Your Travel Rights So You Can Be Stress Free
Finally, you need to understand your rights as an airline passenger. Know when you are and are not able to change the date on your airline ticket, know the rules regarding a name change on an accompanying ticket (in case you and your guy break-up and you want to go on vacation with your best friend now instead), and know that based on European laws you could be entitled to passenger compensation from airlines.
That’s right, you could potentially be compensated for being denied boarding, for having a delayed flight and missing your next connection, or even for having a cancelled flight. There are strict laws that govern airlines and provide protection to their passengers, and knowing that you could be entitled to compensation could be very important in the future if something should happen. Like if they lose your luggage or your flight’s delayed. Definitely check FlightRight to know your rights and prevent being bossed around for your money.
So, know your rights, pack smart, and know the customs of the country you’ll be staying in.
Now that you’re armed with these quick travel hacks, you’ll leave your home with more confidence of having your trip go the way it should: safe, fun, and affordable. Just follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll have the best trip ever.
So, where are you flying off to? Let us know in the comment section below.