Packing and planning for optimal travel serenity can take years of trips filled with physical and emotional stress before you finally hit the sweet spot and start coming out on top, no matter the hold-ups.
The following travel tips, packing hacks and apps can make your next trip the smoothest yet. Give them a try and decide if it goes well for you.
1. Find destination-specific navigation apps
If you’re going to another city with tons of traffic, try Waze — it will give you turn-by-turn audio cues and give you advise on routes to avoid traffic. If you’ll be getting around by public transit, try HopStop.
For international travel, there are various apps that will download static maps so you can use them if you don’t have Wi-Fi, such as Stay.com for iOS or Android.
For nearly any urban destination, you can rely on Uber, that is currently active in 32 countries.
2. Eat where the locals eat
It’s easy to get on-the-go (and nearby) restaurant or nightlife recommendations from the Yelp and Foursquare apps. But with our faces in our phones, we sometimes forget the obvious sign of a great venue — is the place packed, and do the customers inside seem to be locals?
If you’re looking for more in-depth activity planning, TripAdvisor has offline city guides for 80 cities across the globe.
Another resource for finding solid recommendations from locals is Peek, which has options to ask the community to design a perfect day in their hometown.
3. Check airfare on multiple sites
There’s no magic tricks to booking cheap flights (although some data shows purchasing airfare six weeks prior to the takeoff is optimal). In scoring flight deals, there is only hard work — at least, if you’re the type that considers web browsing to be work.
You’ll want to check various airlines and group buying sites to see if there’s a deal for your preferred destination. Despite the rise in comprehensive search engines, it’s always posible that a site or the airline itself is offering some sort of special discount, so it’s worth shopping around being open to multiple airports in a region.
4. Download a language app
Language app Duolingo has amassed a cult following for offering free language lessons, possibly of higher quality than enrolling in a university-level language course. Do a few lessons on your international flight, and although you may not be fluent, but the practice will at least take the sting off that disorienting feeling of the foreign conversations all around you.
5. Pack like a pro
Baggage fees crept up on us — $25 doesn’t seem like much, but if you’re a frequent traveler, it adds up, and it’s an additional line to wait in if you arrive at the airport (plus the risk of your bags not making it to your destination).
Traveling with only one bag will save time and money, but more importantly — it’s one less item strapped on your body and to keep track of, boosting your security and lessening your irritation as you’re moving through various places in an unfamiliar area.
No matter where you’re headed, packing only the essentials you should be able to make one bag work. Bring dark denim that can be dressed up or down, and a black blazer that will hide wrinkles. Wear your best multi-purpose shoes on the plane, and only pack a second pair if you’ll need athletic shoes or something a little more formal.
Lastly — don’t forget to bring the one accessory you can’t live without: an extra phone battery. Some savvy travelers also throw in a power cord in the event you find yourself killing time in an airport, needing to charge a laptop, tablet, and other accessory all at once. Just be sure to check if you need to bring an adapter to use the local outlets.
6. Book only the first night
No matter what time you land, you don’t want to spending your first few hours running around and hoping to find a hotel that can accommodate you. A quick walk through the neighbourhood might leave you feeling you really want to stay in a different part, splurge on something superior or move somewhere more convenient.
Apps from HotelTonight and WeHostels will get you last-minute room right from your phone. WeHostels added discount hotels to its app, and HotelTonight offers rooms ranging from affordable to high-end.