65 Genuinely Useful Travel Tips, From People Who Use Them Constantly

·18 min read

Traveling can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming, but with these smart tips and tricks — taken from frequent fliers from the BuzzFeed Community, Reddit, and YouTube — it can be more enjoyable.

1."Never delete from your phone or throw away your boarding pass before you've actually entered your destination."

A boarding pass

"I've seen border security ask for them at the last minute." —u/giver_of_the_snark

"Your boarding pass is also very convenient if your bags don't arrive. The baggage agents can track your bag faster with the sticker on the back of your boarding pass." —u/KevinAtSeven

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2.A travel pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask can really change your flight experience.

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3.Scams are easily avoidable if you don’t put yourself in vulnerable positions.

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"Be vigilant and patient when you're negotiating, so you know exactly what's included in the deal or service." —Louis Cole, travel vlogger

4."Instead of buying expensive international roaming and data from your cell provider, just buy a cheap prepaid rechargeable SIM card in whatever country you need service."

Someone holding a SIM card for a cellphone

"Having access to your phone and to data makes for a fun traveling experience, since you can keep in touch with people and also post photos, but also use GPS and book Uber/Lyft rides, which are often more convenient and usually cheaper than taxis."

u/granitehoncho

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5.Mixing up your types of accommodation can be cheaper and make for different experiences.

beds in a hostel

"It doesn’t have to be all five-star or all backpackers. Plus, you can stay in the city or country to get the full experience of the destination." —Louis Cole

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6."Pack a change of underwear, a toothbrush, some cash, and a charger in whatever bag will be on your body the entire time you're traveling."

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"Bags do get lost, and having a fresh pair of underwear to change into can make all the difference." u/ameliabedelia99

7.When in doubt, rent a car.

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"Whenever I'm traveling somewhere outside a city, I rent a car. I used to go back and forth weighing the pros and cons, but it didn't take long to realize that renting a car is always the move. Not only does renting a car give you the flexibility to travel on your own time and pace, but it also allows you to explore places that are off the beaten path.

My husband and I were hesitant about renting a car in Iceland, especially after we read about the unpredictable weather. But ultimately, renting a car was the best decision we made the entire trip. We spent hours driving aimlessly, admiring the otherworldly scenery, finding hidden hot springs that we had all to ourselves, and cruising past secret waterfalls the guidebooks didn't mention (all with no tour buses in sight!)." —Hannah Loewentheil

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8."Street food can be amazing, but do your research about where it's safe to eat first. There have been times when we were warned against eating the street food, and those who ate it anyway got pretty ill."

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9.You don’t need to fly business class to fly comfortably. Exit row seats will suffice.

a person sitting in an exit row

"It's worth paying a bit extra to get an exit row seat if you are really tall. The important thing is to feel comfortable on a long-distance flight so that you start your trip off well." —Louis Cole

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10."Don't exchange money. Rather, use an ATM for the best exchange rate."

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11.To avoid tangling, thread a straw with your delicate necklaces.

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12."Hostels are filled with friendly, well-traveled, and knowledgeable people. Staying at them is a great way to see the world. Just bring a lock for your stuff at night."

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13."You only need to pack one power adapter and a powerboard. It's much cheaper than buying multiple adapters, and you end up with more sockets for all your electronics."

A powerboard with several chargers
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14."Buy a diaper bag to pack photography equipment. They're cheap, waterproof, and nobody steals a diaper bag."

a camera, phone, sunglasses, and a hat on a table
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15.You actually don’t need to have that much money saved to go on a trip.

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“Once you’re at your destination, you can save money by eating simply, couch-surfing, and finding a job at a youth hostel or a backpackers.” —Louis Cole

16.Here's how to watch movies on the plane:

17.Working in a hostel or backpackers is the easiest way to make money and meet people.

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“When I travelled Australia, I worked at a youth hostel where I would get a meal and board in exchange for a few hours of gardening. It’s a great way to meet a whole new community of people.” —Louis Cole

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18.And the absolute best way to save money while travelling is by getting friends together and sharing costs.

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19."Keep copies of important travel documents on your phone and in the cloud so you can always access them."

Someone holding a passport

u/-LifeOnHardMode

"Keeping a copy of your passport and ID in the cloud is super helpful if you ever get robbed or lose the original. It's much easier to get your stuff replaced if you can present everything to your embassy."

u/slashthepowder

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20.Research your destination before you pack, so you know what you really need.

a person sitting on a suitcase in a hotel

"For cold trips, I always take thermals, especially long Johns! For trips to hot destinations, I make sure I always have sunscreen and flip-flops. And be sure to grab mosquito repellent if you're going to tropical destinations." —Louis Cole

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21.And being flexible and ready to adapt is one of the most important parts of travelling.

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"When you travel, things don't always go according to plan. You have to be open to change and new routes because 'that's where the best adventures happen.'"

Louis Cole

22."When you can, book directly through airline and hotel websites rather than through third-party travel websites. This will reduce the chances of your reservation getting lost, and it also allows more flexibility to make changes to your booking. Hotel or airline staff can't change reservations that were not made on their own system."

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"I've also heard you often get better rooms and upgrades if you book directly with the hotel."

u/gotthelowdown

23.The best time to book any holiday is off-season, not only in your own country but also in the place you're travelling to.

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It's important to avoid school holidays and national holidays, but Louis Cole recommended you also research the main holidays in your destination country and avoid travelling then too.

24."Research how the locals dress. I’m a woman, and I have traveled alone many times. Every time I travel solo (especially when traveling to Europe), I look into how the locals dress so that I look like a local and don't stand out. If you look like you fit in and pay attention to your surroundings, no one will bother you."

Plan B Entertainment

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25.Familiarize yourself with your destination ahead of time.

a person looking at a map on their device

"One of the hardest parts of traveling somewhere new is that you have no idea what the layout of that destination looks like, which makes plotting an itinerary tricky. While I'm planning a trip, I spend some time on Google Maps orienting myself. I scroll around the different neighborhoods, and I flag a bunch of places (sites, restaurants, shops, etc.) as 'want to go' spots — a useful feature I really love about Google Maps.

Once I have some places on the map, I can begin to draft a basic daily itinerary based on points of interest that are close to one another. And best of all, I can download the map complete with all my saved places or share it. That way, for example, when I'm finishing up a visit to a museum, I can look on my map and see which of my saved restaurants are nearby for lunch." —Hannah Loewentheil

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26."When booking hotels or airline, use a private (or incognito) browser. Travel sites often track your visits and your search history to other similar sites, so turning on private browsing may save some money."

Carri Bradshaw on her laptop

27."If you're taking long flights, carry a travel-size pack of baby wipes. After you reach your destination, go into the restroom and wipe down. It's not a shower, but you'll be amazed how refreshed it makes you feel."

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u/Wizard_of_Ozymandias

28.And most importantly, travel insurance is something you’re going to want to get.

a person signing up for travel insurance

No one likes to stress while on a holiday, and travel insurance offers you the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you'll be OK. "It's an unnecessary stress that can be preempted by being prepared." —Louis Cole

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29.Immerse yourself in the culture by hiring a guide, signing up for a local experience, or even doing a free walking tour.

a city at night

"One benefit of using a travel agent is that they can often connect you to a local guide, but by doing a little legwork, you can easily find a local expert to show you the ropes. Some people might prefer to explore on their own while traveling, but I always find that I get a deeper feel for a destination by joining a tour, hiring a guide, or signing up for a group experience.

For example, in Hong Kong, I asked my hotel to introduce me to a local guide who could show me around the many open-air markets and street food stalls; in Fès, I took a half-day tour around the Medina with a man who taught me how to haggle and identify the authentic vendors selling everything from leather to soap; in Kyoto, I took a fish-butchering and sashimi-making class that turned out to be a way larger lens into Japanese culture." —Hannah Loewentheil

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30.Transport wine in your shoes.

wine being poured into a glass

Obviously for checked bags. But, you never really know when you'll need a bottle of wine, right?

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31.To avoid jet lag, get plenty of exercise the day before you travel.

a woman stretching
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32."If your plans change and you need to cancel your hotel reservation against the hotel's cancellation policy, don't call and cancel. Instead, call the hotel and move your reservation to the following week — because many hotels will allow you to change a reservation without issue. Then, call a few hours later and cancel your 'new' reservation."

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u/Peacockblue11

33.A better strategy to close the drapes in your hotel room.

34.Keep a spreadsheet or list to stay organized.

A woman typing on a laptop

"Whenever I begin planning a trip, I make an Excel sheet or Google Doc that lays everything out. I list everything that I need to book (hotels, flights, rental car, restaurant reservations, or any ticketed activities). Then, as I go about my planning, I'll check off exactly what's booked, complete with confirmation numbers, cancellation dates, and total cost. Having a list of all necessary bookings and expenses in one single place not only helps me stay organized but also helps me manage and stick to my budget." —Hannah Loewentheil

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35."Travel with a a microfiber towel. It dries sooo much faster than a regular towel, and it folds up into nothing."

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u/hippiebanana

36."Do the research and plan your meal times according to local customs. Many European restaurants close at 2 p.m. for a break and begin serving dinner later than when you might be used to in the States."

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37."Instead of renting a car from a company like Hertz or Enterprise, try using the app Turo. It's like Airbnb for cars and usually saves money."

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38.Walk, walk, walk as much as possible.

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"IMO, walking is the best mode of transportation while traveling. Sure, there are times when you have to hop on the subway or hail a cab, but for traveling short distances, there's no better way to experience a new place than by foot. I love nothing more than getting lost in a neighborhood, wandering around the streets, and stumbling upon places I otherwise would have never found: a local jewelry shop, a closet-sized art gallery, or an inviting wine bar.

There's also something about walking that allows you to really experience the vibe of a city — the sleepy quietness of Seville on a Sunday morning; people picnicking, biking, and sunbathing on the banks of the Seine on a sunny day in Paris; the smell of freshly baked tortillas and stewed meat at a food stall in La Merced Market in Mexico City. You miss these tiny little things that add up and comprise the soul of a city when you're speeding by in a taxi or underground on the metro." —Hannah Loewentheil

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39."Always check the expiration date of your passport well before traveling. Many countries require six months of validity to grant entry, so the effective deadline might be sooner than the actual expiration date written on your passport."

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40.Rolled clothing takes up less space than folded clothing.

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41."Download Maps.me. Forget Google Maps. This app lets you download a map of the country you're visiting for free while you're using Wi-Fi, and later it can function as GPS and even recalculate without cell signal."

Someone looking at a map on her phone

"I never use a cell plan when I'm out of the country, and Maps.me always works." —u/weremallard

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42.Pack your dirty shoes in a shower cap.

shoes in a showercap
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43.Whenever possible, be flexible about your travel dates.

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"Of course, there are certain situations where you can't be flexible about your travel dates, but whenever possible, I try not to book travel with a hard and fast plan. Instead, I choose my destination and then I begin looking into hotels and flights. Usually, I avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays — when flights are most expensive — and I choose a midweek option (Thursday and Tuesday flights are my sweet spot).

Google Flights has a grid option feature through which you can compare prices for an entire month. If your work schedule allows it, avoid travel on major holidays and long weekends because the prices on hotels and flights rise exponentially. For example, the hotel room you're eyeing probably costs three times as much for the week between Christmas and New Year's as it does the first or second week of January." —Hannah Loewentheil

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44."Thanksgiving can be a great time to travel internationally. Since it's an American holiday and people are traveling between states, ticket prices abroad go way down."

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u/Princess335

45.If you're traveling throughout Europe, buy an Interrail Pass. It's basically a continent-wide train ticket. Not only is it the best way to travel, but you also meet all sorts of people."

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46.Pack a lightweight scarf for chilly planes.

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You can use it as a little blanket or a pillow. Once you arrive at your destination, you have the perfect accessory to spice up any outfit.

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47."For US travel, pick up a National Park Service map and guide along with an annual pass. Just about anywhere you go, you'll be near a park system area, and so many are amazing. I wasted a lot of years driving past these places, and I wish I knew to stop and explore."

A car driving to a National Park
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48.To keep your clothes smelling fresh, pop a dryer sheet in your suitcase.

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49.Contact containers are great for storing cosmetics.

a person pulling makeup from a drawer

Perfect for touch-ups!

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50."If you plan on sightseeing, try to walk from place to place. You'll learn much more about a city and the people by walking. You'll see small neighborhoods and the off-the-beaten-path shops and restaurants that aren't located next to major attractions."

A street with a railroad in Asia
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51.Stash extra cash in an empty lip balm.

a person opening up lip balm

You've already filled your contact case with lip balm. So keeping money in the empty lip balm only makes sense.

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52.Use a button to keep your earrings together.

a button
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53."Hotel lobbies have great bathrooms. Find a luxury hotel and go to the bar, order an iced tea or a Coke, and then you can use a nice bathroom. Plus, most also have free Wi-Fi these days as well."

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54.The right way to pack for long trips:

a person using a vacuum on a bag

Spacesaver compression bags FTW.

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55.And when it comes to booking accommodations, always read the reviews!

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"When you use a travel agent, you're getting an expert opinion on hotels around the world. But if you're booking a trip yourself, you can take advantage of something even better: hundreds or thousands of real-life user reviews written by people who have actually stayed there. Look, user reviews must sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, but overall, I find them extremely useful.

By reading a lot of user experiences, I can get an accurate feel for what to expect at a given hotel or Airbnb — whether it's more romantic or family-friendly, whether it caters more toward business or leisure travel, how conveniently it's located, and any other relevant perks, features, or cons I might want to know about before booking. I also love looking at the user-uploaded photos because they provide a realistic look at what to expect." —Hannah Loewentheil

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56.The better way to use airport outlets? A power strip:

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57.Buying bottled water at the airport could not be more wrong. Take an empty bottle through security and get that H2O the right way:

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58.Consider your priorities when deciding where to splurge and where to save.

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"Most of us have a budget while traveling, and sadly, you can't splurge on everything. While planning, think about your priorities and the things that will make your vacation really special, and then go from there. For me and my husband, food is a huge part of traveling. Whenever we travel, we budget a good chunk of our travel expenses for food, and we make a bunch of well-researched restaurant reservations ahead of time.

Some people might really care about their accommodations and splurge on a five-star hotel with all the amenities, while adventure-lovers might shell out on unique activities like scuba diving, bungee jumping, or hot air ballooning. Think about what you love traveling for and go from there, both while you're planning and once you arrive at your destination." —Hannah Loewentheil

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59.Fashion a holder out of the inflight mag.

60."Travel doesn't need to be as expensive as you think, and you can make it affordable by doing a home swap, staying in hostels, or camping if you're really on a budget. Travel after the busy season too: July and August can be very busy, so try booking a trip in May or September."

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61.Surely you already know that leaving your headphones loose in your bag is wrong — a paper clip is the way to go:

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62."Don't just choose a restaurant based on a nice appearance. Eat where the locals eat or where you see people forming long lines."

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63.Pack your plane snacks creatively.

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64."Map out some activities, but leave the majority of your trip unplanned. Whenever I travel, I choose two must-do activities beforehand, then leave the rest of the trip unplanned. I just walk around and see what I discover."

The outside of the Louvre in Paris

"It helps with burnout because I can rest when my body needs to without worrying about missing my next scheduled activity."

—u/egc26

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65.Enter: the peg method, otherwise known as the RIGHT method to store your toothbrush.

a clothespin on a toothbrush
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This article contains content from Hannah Loewentheil, Michelle Rennex, and Louise Khong. It was compiled by Kelly Rissman.