Over the years, I’ve traveled a lot of miles. During my travel-for-business phase, there wasn’t really time to be creative about handy items to help make travel easier. I basically crammed everything into a roller carry-on bag and ran out the door to catch my flight.
Lucky for me, I’ve slowed down in the last few years and been able to cover a lot of ground just for the pleasure of traveling. Each trip I try out a few new ideas I’ve heard about from various sources. If they work, I keep them on as a regular part of the traveling ritual. If they don’t, I just discard them and move on. Honestly, there’s more things in the discard pile than the save pile, but you have to try things before you know they don’t work – right?
This week, I thought I’d share some handy travel hacks I found that actually live up to their claims of saving you time, money, space or sanity.
- Use Google Maps Offline – So you’re staying in a foreign city and you’ve decided you want to explore a bit on your own. You don’t want to use the map on your smartphone to find your way because you’ll be charged a fortune in roaming data fees. What to do? Download the Google Maps app to your phone before you leave home. Open the app while connected to WIFI and find the area of town you want to explore. Once you have it displayed on your phone, touch the menu option (top left of screen) and select Offline Areas. You can download that area map to your phone so you can use it without any roaming data or WIFI required. WARNING: You will need between 70MB and 300MB of space on your phone to do this download.
- Make it easy to get a new passport or driver’s license if you need to – I personally keep my passport strapped to my body when I travel abroad because I have a paranoia about losing it. I haven’t lost it yet, so maybe this is a good method. As a backup though, I scanned my passport and driver’s license and emailed the documents to myself so I can access them from anywhere. This will make it much easier to replace them if they are lost or stolen.
- Put a dryer sheet in your suitcase – This is a simple and easy method to keep your clothes smelling fresh in your suitcase (even on long trips) with the added benefit of reducing static electricity.
- Leave your jewelry box at home – In the spirit of packing light, bring jewelry that will go with more than one outfit and use a 7-day pill organizer to store it. You’ll be able to fit several pieces into the nice, flat container AND you can find those earrings you love really quickly.
- Wear Flight Compression Socks – So these are not the most fashionable items in the world, but they are clinically proven to help blood circulation in the legs and thighs. On long flights, suck it up and put on your compression socks. You can get a pair on Amazon for less than $20. It really helps reduce the risk of blood clots and they are nice and warm as well.
- Use ATM Machines for the Best Exchange Rates – I have tested this out, and when you get local currency from an ATM, you’re getting the best exchange rate available. This is because your bank has negotiated exchange rates for bulk transactions and even though you’re just getting 20 Euro at a time, you get the same rate as your bank does. WARNING: Be sure to check with your bank before leaving on your trip to see if there are fees associated with using your card overseas. This will help you plan how often you use your card at an ATM or with local merchants.