If you are planning an overseas trip, you probably think you have everything organized. Passport? Check. Tickets? Check. Vaccinations? Check. However, seasoned international travelers know that there are many lesser-known tricks which will make your trip smoother, and in some cases save you a lot of time, money or hassle.
Check our list of the top 6 secret international travel hacks to make sure you make the most of your next overseas holiday.
Compare Flight Fares
Fares to the same destination can differ wildly between airlines, so be sure to compare as many different airlines as possible to get the lowest fare. Third-party booking sites (Kayak, Kiwi, and CheapOair for example) sometimes even have cheaper deals than booking directly with the airline.
Flying a day earlier or later can also save you hundreds of dollars, so always search for flexible dates. Finally, believe it or not, but clearing the cookies from your browser can also help you to get cheaper fares because some booking sites will give you the fare they think you are ready to pay and if you’ve been searching a lot, they know!
Prepare For Your Flight
Long haul flights are a necessary evil of international travel, however, eight or even twelve-hour flights don’t need to be torturous if you prepare well. Pack your carry-on with a least one book or magazine, earplugs, an eye mask, neck pillow, USB cord charger, and toiletries. Most importantly, make sure these items are easily accessible during the flight, so preferably in a small bag which fits under the seat in front of you.
Select your seat in advance to make sure you have an aisle or window seat, depending on your preference. Dress comfortably for your flight to make sure you get as much rest as possible: fashion is less important than arriving refreshed and ready to enjoy your destination. Once on board, drink plenty of water, get up and stretch periodically and be almost obsessive about doing your anti-DVT (deep vein thrombosis) exercises.
Skip Packaged Tours
Unless you are a very particular type of traveler or looking for a very specific kind of holiday, avoid packed tours and all-in-one deals. These are generally extremely poor value compared to paying for flights, accommodation, meals, and transfers separately. Unless you really don’t want to have to do any organization for your trip, arrange these different elements yourself.
This goes for shorter tours such as day trips as well – in many places you can easily book tours on the ground once you arrive at the destination. Doing this not only gives you more choice and allows you to check out the operator personally but is usually cheaper than booking online from overseas. The exception to this is sights and tours which have limited intake and book out in advance: the Inca Trail in Peru being a good example.
Double Check Visa Requirements
Coming from places like Europe, the US or Australia, you are probably accustomed to being able to turn up to a country and either not need a visa or be able to arrange it in a few minutes with immigration at the airport. However, there are certain countries, for example, Vietnam and India, which require visitors of all nationalities to arrange your visa in advance and will not let you into the country otherwise. In fact, you will find your airline will refuse you boarding at the origin. Luckily in most cases, you can quite easily arrange this online, but you will need to pay a few and should at least a week for processing.
Similar are the visa waiver programs of the USA and Canada, which mean you must register in advance online before your trip. The USA’s ESTA visa waiver may take at least 72 hours to process even if there are no issues, so be sure to do this well in advance of your flight.
This can be a particular trap to fall into if you are transiting via one country on your way to somewhere else. Be aware that some countries, notably the USA and Canada, require you to clear immigration even if you are catching another international flight straight away on the same ticket, so make sure your visas are in order.
Check Local eCigarette Regulations
If you are a vaper, be sure to check the relevant regulations around eCigarettes in the country you are traveling to. In countries like the US and the UK, vaping is entirely legal (at least for those over 18), but this isn’t the case everywhere. In certain countries, notably Singapore, Brazil and Uruguay, e-cigarettes are banned and vaping is illegal. Other countries allow vaping but have restrictions on its use, such as controls on vaping in public spaces, for example.
In countries where vaping is illegal, they are within their rights to seize your vaping equipment on arrival, and you may even find yourself issued a fine (or worse). Don’t want to lose your fancy vape pen and DIY vape juice kit. Better to leave it at home if traveling to one of those countries.
Research Taxi Prices
As a tourist in a foreign country, there are many ways you can be ripped off by unscrupulous local operators, and transport, particularly taxi prices is one of the worst. Especially when traveling to less developed regions such as South East Asia and Latin America it is unfortunately common for taxi drivers to take advantage of unknowing tourists and charge not just a little extra, but four or five times the normal fare. This can even extend to booking airport pickups arranged in advance through your hotel or tour company.
To avoid being taken for a ride in more ways than one, do your research in advance of what a typical taxi fare should be at your destination, both to and from the airport and around town (which is usually a lot less than airport trips). There is an incredible wealth of information of this kind online – whether on travel blogs and sites, or social media groups.
Keep these tips and tricks in mind so that all you need to worry about on your trip is enjoying your holiday!