20 completely random but surprisingly useful travel hacks

Nov 14 2018, 9:17 pm

After backpacking and hostel-hopping across each continent except Antarctica (don’t worry, it’s on the list), we’ve learned a thing or two about how to ease the travel process. And by that we mean we made a lot of costly or uncomfortable mistakes that we now know to avoid.

There are tried-and-true travel tips, and then there are completely random travel hacks that may just solve that pet peeve you never knew you had. If you don’t know, now you know.

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Here are 20 completely random but surprisingly useful travel tips that will make your next trip that much smoother!

Prepare for your journey

1. Layovers are an opportunity to see a new city, and any true globetrotter will take advantage of a connection that’s seven hours or longer to go explore. Major hubs like Dubai, Beijing, Mexico City, and Singapore (home to the best airport in the world) are all great extended layover options.

2. Prior to your arrival, download the offline version of Google Maps or Maps.Me for your destination and save any important locations – your hotel, any restaurants you’d like to hit up, or, you know, every speakeasy in the city. This will allow you to keep track of where “home” is, and navigate around the city without Wi-Fi.

Side note: Maps.Me is much more detailed than Google Maps, showing reviews on restaurants, the ability to estimate your route timing while offline, etc.

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Paris/Google Maps 

3. Research costs beforehand. From taxi rides from the airport to tours and excursions, you will want to have an idea of the cost before you pay to avoid getting ripped off (speaking from experience here).

4. Triple check your flight time. Especially when you’re not savvy with the ol’ 24-hour-clock and think your 20:00 flight time is actually 10:00 pm. (Speaking from major experience here and no we do not want to talk about it.)

Stand your ground

5. Don’t take no for an answer… in the nicest way possible. Many companies (tour operators, booking agencies, airlines, restaurants, you name it) know that many travellers won’t push for what they want, so they skew to the lazy or cheap option. This definitely applies to negotiating for a price. If you believe you’re fairly deserving of something, be persistent (but also pleasant, of course!).

Example: A delayed flight caused us to miss a connection and the airline said we had to pay for a new flight, even though the missed flight was the airline’s fault. Lesson learned: Stand your ground, and be persistent when you know you’re entitled to your rights as a customer. (Or at least keep your receipts to dispute it after with customer service.)

6. TripAdvisor is the backbone you never knew you had. Many companies base their reputation off of the reviews on this site (you’ll see the signs in restaurants, hotels and hotels worldwide) and it can be useful ammunition when you need some leverage.

Example: One time we woke up with a cockroach on our face in Thailand, threatened to leave a bad review on TripAdvisor, and got our money back.

Milk those freebies for all they’re worth

7. We are on a budget and we 👏 do 👏 not 👏 turn 👏 down 👏 free 👏 stuff. Even if you’re not hungry now, snag that package of crackers from your hostel’s free breakfast for an afternoon snack.

Okay, this one goes out to a niche audience, but those little water bottles that you get on the plane? They make for a perfect re-fillable purse-sized water bottle for the rest of your trip, ladies! No need to buy water bottles from the convenience store in every location. (Or better yet, bring your reuseable bottle).

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Mini water bottle on plane. (Kellie Paxian / Daily Hive)

Side note: While we’re here offering travel advice, the purse in the photo above is the perfect style of travel purse. Zippers are key. You can keep your passport in the top fold-over zipper for extra security, and there are even zippers on the sides for easy access to chapstick, your bus ticket, or whatever you please. This one is from some random skate store like Zumiez.

Extra side note: If you’re extra paranoid careful and are travelling places where you (or your mom) are concerned you’re going to get mugged, keep cash in various pockets on your person and on the very off chance you would get mugged, you can give the thief all the cash from one of the pockets but save some in the others. Let’s hope you never have to test this theory, but it’s out there just in case!

Be resourceful

8. You know how most in-flight meals serve up an ice-cold bun and butter? Place those bad boys under your steaming hot meal for a personal mini food heater. Boom.

9. No air con in your hostel? We’ve got a travel hack for that. Put your PJs in the freezer so they are nice and cool when it’s time for bed. Works like a charm.

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PJs in the freezer in Byron Bay, Australia. (Kellie Paxian / Daily Hive)

Be a courteous passenger

(These aren’t so much solutions to your travel problems, as they are alleviating other people’s pet peeves).

10. Many people don’t know about the handrail lining the aisle of an airplane, which is perched underneath the overhead bins of most aircraft. Instead, we choose to lean on the headrests of our fellow passengers as they try to sleep (which we all just love). Use the handrail, friends.

11. Just because there’s a flat escalator transporting you through the airport, doesn’t mean your legs have to stop working altogether. Keep it moving, people. Slow lane on the right, pass on the left.

Discover the value of your travel community

12. Daily Hive Mapped has got your back. Before you leave on a trip, stop here first. Check out our Travel Guides page for where to eat, drink, things to do, and neighbourhood guides for world-class cities across the globe. Check out our Travel Tips page for slightly less random, but equally useful, tips as included in this article you’re reading right now. Then there’s our Bucket List section for all the travel inspo you never knew you needed!

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Daily Hive Mapped New York City Travel Guide

13. Take advantage of travel-based Facebook groups. You can pose a question and get tons of responses, or use the handy dandy search function to sift through existing posts. Groups like Girls that Scuba are helpful for finding dive sites, and groups like YVR Deals | Vancouver’s Travel Deals & Advice Community are full of useful content and helpful members.

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Search function in Girls That Scuba Facebook Group.

Pack smart

14. Ladies, when travelling somewhere humid like Southeast Asia – just scrap the hot hair tools altogether. It was a nice thought but we are embracing our inner Monica Geller in Barbados for this trip. (And if you must bring them, don’t use the max heat setting — the last thing you need is a blown fuse)

15. Quick drying towels are your best travel buds. Whether it’s a quick pop over to the beach, or you need to pack up your belongings in your hostel, the last thing you want is to pack up a big, soaking wet beach towel.

16. Portable phone chargers are another great travel companion. Especially for those 10-hour bus rides, you feel us?

17. Bring your own padlock to your hostel. Most have lockers you can use, and bringing your own lock will save you that rental fee.

Be street smart

18. The rules of the road differ across the globe, and in some places may seem a little… lax. And by lax we mean chaotic. If you are strolling streetside, walk on the side that faces the traffic so you can keep an eye out and dodge whatever’s coming your way.

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Bike passing the gridlock in Kuta, Bali. (Kellie Paxian / Daily Hive)

19. Uber, Lyft, and Grab are typically reliable, affordable, and widely accessible across the globe from Brazil to Bali. They’re often a cheaper alternative to cabs, and they leave an online record of your whereabouts (which is nice for safety reasons). Check the costs beforehand and see how they compare to the local taxis or transit. Also, hopping on the back of a scooter using Grab Bike is way cheaper and quicker to maneuver through traffic (it can be a lifesaver in gridlocks like Bali or Hanoi)!

20. If you do have to take a taxi, always agree on a price before beginning your journey. The metre system is not used worldwide, and the driver may take the “scenic route” to charge you out the ying yang.

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Grab Bike driver in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Kellie Paxian / Daily Hive)

If you’d like any of the above tips elaborated on, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]!

For more handy travel advice, check out our Travel Tips page including the ultimate carry-on packing checklist, how to avoid the flu when travelling, and more!