9 Planning Hacks That Will Transform Your Travel Experience
Updated: Mar 13
The more you travel, the more ridiculous experiences you'll have that will teach you lessons. I have listed nine travel hacks that are personal lessons from mistakes made when traveling. Consider these hacks when planning for a trip and you'll be one step ahead from the get-go.
9 planning hacks for travelers
1. Stalk bloggers for resources/ideas/itineraries
Sure, you can read the Lonely Planet recommendation but online platforms are teeming with ideas and suggestions for a specific trip you might want to take. Perhaps you need something family-oriented, a couples getaway, a singles retreat, an active adventure, a relaxing week away or a trip on a shoestring… I can guarantee some, if not all, your requirements will be met by another experience online.
Getting suggestions from those who are more experienced is a great time-saver and it affords you the opportunity to tweak multiple ideas to suit your needs.
Instagram is a great place to start. Search for location tags to get ideas. You can always reach out to the accounts that post (and might even get a response).
2. Ask for input on social media
When thinking about the trip and in early planning stages, share your intentions online — briefly. Loads of people love to give recommendations and/or provide host opportunities. You might have researched itineraries online but your friends will know you and what you like to do. Use this to supplement what you have already found.
Give a social media shout out asking questions, whether or not people have visited the country, and if they have, any tips/resources to share. It’s a gold mine. Personalize itineraries as needed.
3. Create a packing checklist/photograph your outfits
Trust me, we think we have it all figured out and that we will obviously remember to bring [our cameras]… and then inconveniently remember en route to the airport. Last minute panic does something to ya and you don’t want to leave important items behind, so write them down. I use the free checklist app Wunderlist and it has transformed my life.
Pro-tip: Set up a few packing lists on the app—one for a cold weather weekend, one for camping, one for travel abroad — whatever tickles your fancy — and have the basics down. You will check them off your list whilst packing your bags and when you’ve left the house, uncheck the items and reuse the list.
Weekend camping checklist example
Snacks (nuts, dried fruit, energy bars…)
Water bottle and refill
Toiletry bag and toothbrush/paste
Contacts and solution
Bathing suit and towel
And if you aren't into lists, take photos of your outfits at home to easily remember what you packed and coordinated. This works for trips with children as well.
And remember, be ruthless. You’ll thank me later when you’re carrying your luggage up and down stairs and through long airport terminals or hauling it on a bus storage rack as it jolts. Halve whatever is on your list before you touch a piece of clothing, it’s probably more than you need anyway.
4. Be tech savvy
Buy a battery pack to recharge your phone on the go AND a plug for the country you are traveling to. Check to see if you need a converter — that was an unpleasant lesson to learn [bye hairdryer].
Also, remember to bring your phone charger — type it in your checklist — it’s usually the last thing to make it into hand luggage.
5. Download G. Maps to use offline
Download the map of the city/town/region you are traveling to when you’re at home – in WIFI—in advance. Google Maps lets you download maps to use offline and saves it to a section called ‘offline maps’. You don’t need data to run the map once abroad and it is a Godsend.
6. Book hired cars online
If hiring a car, book it online and read up on the insurance. If you don’t book insurance, they will likely try to scam you for an astronomical added extra when you arrive to collect the keys. If you have an AMEX card, skip this bit. E-mail me if you’d like to be informed about which car hire company NOT to use.
7. Have initial accommodation booked with clear instructions*
If I am being spontaneous and haven’t planned out an entire trip, I make sure I have the first night of accommodation booked — at least — with clear directions to the property, access to the property (key/keypad information and check-in times), and instructions saved in advance (what we can/can’t do).
If you are meeting up with people there and have booked all the info. do them a solid and send it to them before they leave for the trip.
8. Set up a place to store luggage*
Ask if you can store your bag at the accommodation if you land before check-in. Most places let you and it saves you dragging your luggage across the countryside while you patiently wait for the doors to open.
9. Check-in for your flight online
Find out when check-in opens for a flight and check-in at that time to ensure better seats. No brainer, right?
That being said, it has slipped my mind many a time. You’d think the seats next to the restroom, hearing flushing toilets and doors opening and closing all night, might prompt me to remember next time… or being assigned the back-row seat that can’t recline?
What about the middle seat on a 12-16h leg journey… nope, nothing comes to mind as to why I can’t remember to check in before my flight. I guess it’s because I didn’t have a blog post insisting I do it? Got to be it.
Seriously though, if you haven’t paid for your seats, book them when check-in opens to ensure good ones.
Okay, that's it for now — my tried-and-tested planning hacks that will ensure you have a smooth travel experience. Heed the advice or suffer the consequences. Hit me up in the comments if you agree, have any personal experience learning some of these lessons or have any to add.
Much love, Kate x