Travel Hacks and TipsAfter Years of Traveling Here are My Top Hacks, Apps and Tips
Here are my travel hacks, tips, and my tools of the travel trade to help your next adventure be a resounding success! I have no idea how people traveled back in the day without some of the things I’m going to share with you today to help you plan, and then execute, an amazing travel adventure! I would have been lost, literally, without many of the following travel hacks and tips. Without all the apps, ideas, items, and advice I have garnered from other travelers, hikers, campers, vanlifers, and adventurers. This blog is going to give you some great advice from a fellow traveler who has been all around the world (on a budget mind you). I have traveled by plane, bus, train, ferry, certainly by foot, and probably a donkey on occasion. I have stayed in tiny tents, awesome hostels, and more than a few hotels. So, let’s get started helping you plan that adventure you’ve always wanted to go on! Need some inspiration?
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I’ll start with the simplest travel hacks and tips advice I can give you. Grab a cool-looking journal that you write in the old fashion way, with a pen or pencil. This journal will help you plan and then keep your notes, thoughts, and ideas as you go on your incredible journey. I use one every time I begin to plan a travel adventure and then execute any trip. I carry it with me all along the way.
Not only is it handy and cool, but it also serves as a memento of your trip. I’m telling you right now, your heart will give a little flutter when you are digging around in some box in a closet five years from now and you come upon that old journal, pull it out, dust it off, and sit on the edge of your bed reliving one of the best times of your life. I did just that on so many occasions. And you will too. It is a little piece of magic. Because those memories are such an integral, special part of any sojourn, I am currently creating a line of journals that have all kinds of cool sayings on the front so you can find one that fits you and your visions for that ultimate adventure. So, stay tuned! Until then check out the journal I have picked for you in the quick link!
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics!
2. Google Maps
I realize that this is an App and my ‘must have’ app list is to follow, but it has its own special spot in this blog as that is just how important it is! Did you know that you can download a map of the area you are visiting on Google Maps to use OFFLINE while you are trying to find your way around? Well, you can! Now, when you don’t have cell service, you can still arrive at all those museums, cafes, and castles you need to find and explore! Google offline is one of the most invaluable hacks you can use to make your exploration of any area a resounding success. Get it here @ Goggle Play or here @ the App Store.
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3. Apps The #1 Travel Hacks and Tips Must Haves!
Now there may be some folks out there who have the time and money to go off and just grab a flight to anywhere and fly by the seat of their pants and good on them for sure. But most of us are going to have a limited amount of time and money. Even when I quit my job to travel around the world in 2018, I eventually ran out of money, which means I ran out of time and had to return to work (penniless I might add but it was so worth it). So be sure to do your research, figure out what is most important to you when you arrive and have a route in mind even if that changes a bit as you go. Planning is awesome but flexibility is a must as well.
Let’s talk about planning. Just go ahead and do it right now! Download the app Rome2Rio. This is my go-to app to figure out how to get from point A to point B in one fell swoop. I LOVE this app. To use it, just put in from location A to location B and it will spit out every option available. Plane, train, bus, ferry, and/or the combination of all the above which is exactly what you’ll need. Hands down the BEST app out there to help you to get to that dream location. It gives you pretty much every available merge, sequence, and mix of transportation options and all the viable information, including pricing, when possible, for each so you can choose modes of transportation in conjunction with one another which you’ll be utilizing to put your travel itinerary together.
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Hopper: Plane travel made easy peasy. Whether you are flying to a single destination and staying there or visiting many destinations along your journey, this app is invaluable. Just enter your departure date and destination and Hopper will give you a month-style calendar that has a color-coded schematic where you can see and then choose the least expensive flying dates that work for you. It gives you a comprehensive list of airlines with prices from lowest to highest and includes flight times etc. It also gives you predictions as to what the prices might do on flights in the future.
And, my favorite feature, once you input the flight info you can ask Hopper to “watch this flight.” It will now watch the flight for price increases and decreases and notify you of any changes. Including letting you know to “buy now!” For a very small monthly fee, you can book right thru Hopper and it will give you a confirmation number for their site as well as one from the airline. If you’re doing a lot of bookings, as I did while I was traveling around the world, then booking thru Hopper gives you a place to keep all your flight info in one concise place that’s easily accessible. Or you can use Hopper to track the pricing and availability of all the flights you might need and then book directly with that airline. Once you get your flight don’t forget to book your ride using one of the top-rated booking apps, Discover Cars!
HostelWorld and Booking.com I use both apps in unison with one another to find the cheapest available accommodations. And yes Booking.com does include hostels. Just put in the filter “priced lowest to highest” and it will list hostels first. The most important aspect of these apps is the reviews and location maps. Make sure you utilize these features. Make sure you ALWAYS check the location of your accommodations with where you want to be and things you want to see and do. I booked a place called Dingle Gate thinking it was on the Edge of a town called Dingle in Ireland, but the place was 20 miles outside of town. Imagine your dismay when you are traveling on foot and your accommodations are in the middle of literally nowhere. Not good. Now, once you find a place you like you can book thru either site. I lean towards Booking.com as I use it so much, so I often get extra benefits.
Now on to the all-important reviews. Cross-referencing reviews brings into play another app I use on the regular, TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor has many different uses, and you can research and get opinions about everything under the sun on this app. I use it almost exclusively to cross-reference reviews for my accommodations. I cannot stress enough to you, my fellow traveler, do your research and then triple-check the reviews that come along with hostels, hotels, campsites or B&Bs. Different things are important to different people, so pick and choose the places that highlight the things which are most important to you.
Eurail App: This is a must, must-have for Eurail pass holders and to be honest for non-pass holders who will be traveling with the rail system in Europe. This is one of the most comprehensive travel apps in existence. So simple to use and incredibly accurate. I’ll be doing a Eurail travel blog at some point but just a quick word of advice, if you are traveling by train anywhere in Europe you need this app for sure!
4. DAY PACK FOR DAY TRIPPIN’
Just a quick salute to my day pack. I carried two packs on my long adventures around the world. One big rucksack to carry all of my gear and the Everest shown here for a day trip out in a city or when I go out for a day hike in the woodlands. I prefer the Everest because it can roll up and fit in my big pack when I don’t need it and because when rolled up it does not take up too much room in my big pack or add much extra weight.
The Everest Luggage Backpack is a great day pack. It is the perfect size to carry your jacket, your lunch, a water bottle or two, and your emergency poncho in the event of nasty weather. It also has a sizable front storage area where you can carry your ‘get to them quick’ items. The small side pockets are great for your phone in case you need to get that perfect photo on the fly. So loaded it up and get out there and check out the nearest trail or take it on your next stroll around Paris, London, or any cool city you always wanted to visit!
5. WATER BOTTLES
Don’t forget your water! That is some of the best advice I can give anyone who is taking up hiking. I was coming down off a wee mountain called Croagh Patrick in Ireland one time and on my descent, I came across two young hikers with no water. Not a speck. They asked me (and this is the God’s honest truth) if there was a water spicket up on the summit. I stood there, mouth agape. I reached into the daypack I was just telling you about and gave them all the extra water I had. Which was substantial as I hate to be thirsty or unprepared.
I left them guzzling the water at a rate that told me it would be gone in a flash. I continued down the trail shaking my head and wondering if they would make through life in general. What I did not give them was my Topoko 25 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Water Bottle. This is another one of those items that I have had for years. Again (as with most of the things I buy as they are for traveling as light as possible) this water bottle is lightweight, double insulated, leak-proof, and best of all BPA-free! The one I carried around the world with me did eventually get banged up pretty good, I think I accidentally ran it over with my van, but I did not hesitate to buy another one just like it. So don’t end up being a thirty traveler! Check these awesome bottles out and grab one in your favorite color!
Now, one may think that carrying a flashlight on a day hike might be completely unnecessary however, being prepared isn’t just some random cliché. It is, in fact, what has gotten me, and can get you out of a tough spot. Things happen out in the woods that you need to be ever mindful of. Getting caught out in the dark because you’ve lost your way or sprained an ankle, or you underestimated how long it would take to hike that trail you always wanted to hike, is always a possibility. You really need to have a lightweight yet powerful flashlight.
I never go on any adventure without my trusted Mini MagLite Pro Led. This thing is small but mighty. Ultra-bright 332 Lumens, it is made from durable but lightweight machined aluminum and is anodized so it is corrosion resistant. And I love the fact that it has an adjustable beam that can go from spot to flood light instantaneously. Those who wander may not always be lost but just in case; let this rugged little light help you find your way out of the dark, back onto the trail, and home again, home again jiggety jog (as my mother used to say).
7. POCKET KNIVES
I’ll be honest, I LOVE knives! I don’t know why. I just think they are cool. However, a good pocketknife is essential in all things outdoors. I carry an Old Henry. It is a simple pocketknife that I always take with me while I am out hiking. Rugged yet stylish, it is my go-to knife.
I also have an awesome utility knife for camp which is the GVDV Utility Pocket Knife. If you go on a long thru-hike this is also the knife you would want to carry. I love the flat black slate color and it comes with a sharpening stone to boot.
One of the knives you might prefer is one I call my Daniel Boone knife! The Snake Eye Tactical Cherry Wood Hunting Knife is the one I wear on my belt to make me feel like a grand adventurer! Or perhaps it is the one you might use if you must wrestle a bear or mountain lion and want a fighting chance!
I also happen to have a Laguiole which is a real beauty. This knife is not only a useful tool it is also a showpiece.
And of course, we can’t forget the classic Swiss Army Knife. Always a good solid knife to keep around. Along the way you will find having a knife is always handy and you will use more than you think.
Whichever knife you chose it will go everywhere with you and become a standard part of what you grab as you head out to explore the great outdoors.
Want to find out more about the knives listed above? Click one of these links for more information:
Here is a list of the smaller things I also carry on the regular on any hike no matter the difficulty or distance; A rain poncho is an absolute must is a heat reflecting-blanket. Again, these are for emergency situations. I also carry a compass because compasses are Just freaking cool. And, you know, it actually might one day save your life. And last but not least you are going to need a great pair of shades you are going to love these Calcutta Islanders! They are polarized, water resistant, and have UV sun protection built in, Plus, they look great! These are some of the little things that just make life worth living. And of course, make any trek you take out into the woods feel like an awesome adventure! So, here it is! Your call to action! Don’t let those awesome ideas you have sit idle any longer! It is time to gather your gear, take that dream you’ve been dreaming, and make it into a reality! Just go for it!