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How to Make the Most Out of Your Vacation: Travel Hacks That Will Save You Time, Money, and Heartache

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

Amelia Earhart

If you're anything like me, you start planning your vacation the minute you finish your last one. But between booking flights and hotels and figuring out what to do when you're there, it can feel a little daunting.  Luckily, there are a few easy travel hacks that can make your trip planning process a breeze.

Ready to jet off on your dream vacation? From packing essentials to where to find the best deals, I've got you covered. So take a deep breath and relax—you're ready for anything! Mom mode activated.

Be prepared for anything

Bring a map of the area (just in case your phone dies), sunscreen, a hat, snacks, water, a sewing kit, and a first-aid kit. This will help you be ready for any situation that may arise.

If you're staying at a hotel, call ahead and ask for a list of available amenities. You can also check Google for nearby pharmacies in case you need to get something last minute. Sometimes you won't know what you need until you need it.

I tend to carry a bamboo cutlery set so I don't have to look for a spoon if I'm out and about. Think about it. Have you ever ordered food only to discover that there aren't any utensils with which to consume it once you get to your destination? It sucks ass especially when you're already hangry.

Pack some snacks

And speaking of food, a granola bar or a piece of fruit goes a long way when you're not sure when your next meal is coming.

Airport food can be expensive, and it's not always the best quality. Save yourself some money (and your stomach) by packing your own snacks for the plane ride. Trail mix, granola bars, and fruit are all great options that won't take up too much space in your carry-on.

Remember, we want to use what we have first before buying anything.

Bring a power strip

This will save you from fighting over outlets in your hotel room.

Hotels often have limited outlets available, and they can fill up quickly with all of your devices. A power strip gives you extra outlets so you can charge everything at once without arguments over who gets to use the outlet first. And don't forget the travel adapter!

Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on/backpack/weekender.

It's always better to be safe than sorry. If your luggage gets lost, it's important to have a few essentials with you on the plane. This includes things like a change of clothes, toiletries, and any medications you may need.

No one wants to think about their luggage getting lost, but it happens. In reality, the Department of Transportation's data shows that American Airlines was the worst large airline in the United States for mishandled bags, which lost an estimated 4.3 bags per 1,000 passengers between 2012-2018.

I lost Betelgeuse TWICE (returned with battle scars and all), and having extra clothing in my backpack saved me. Makes you think twice about checking in luggage.

Pack a travel pillow and blanket

This will make your flight much more comfortable. Airplane seats can be uncomfortable, so it's important to bring along something that will help you sleep. A travel pillow and blanket will make it easier to catch some Zs on your next flight.

Personally, I find that a good pashmina or large scarf can do the job just fine.

Dress for Comfort

Choose clothes that are comfortable and easy to pack. This will help you be comfortable while you're on the go.

Despite what your favorite travel influencer is wearing in their perfectly manicured Instagram photos, comfort should always be your first priority when packing for a trip. Choose items that are easy to pack and won’t take up too much space in your suitcase, and that can easily be washed. Also, never bring ill-fitting clothes. That's just a disaster waiting to happen.

This doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style, but it does mean choosing shoes and clothing that won't leave you feeling uncomfortable or hot and sticky. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are great choices for warm weather travel.

Bring comfortable shoes

One of my most important travel tips is to invest in a good pair of shoes! You'll be doing a lot of walking, so you'll want a comfortable pair of shoes that can handle all the sightseeing. I like to bring a pair of sneakers and a pair of flats, so I have options depending on the weather.

Chucks look cool, but they are not the best walking shoes. I learned that hard way in Berlin. Luckily I had another pair of shoes which now are part of my travel wardrobe.

And if you’re not sure what to pack, make a list of the activities you’ll be doing on your trip and pack accordingly.

Don't overspend

Stick to a budget so you don't spend more than you can afford. This will help you enjoy your vacation without worrying about money.

The word budget might make you cringe, but it’s important to be mindful of your spending when you’re on vacation. It’s easy to overspend when you’re in a new place, and there’s so much to see and do. Decide how much you can afford to spend before you even start packing your bags. That way, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about money.

What has helped me is to have money in a separate account named “Travel” using Chime banking. I can keep track of my spending and not worry about going into my regular account.

Be flexible

Things will inevitably go wrong when you're traveling. Be prepared for delays, cancellations, and changes in plans. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be to deal with these situations.

One of the most important travel tips I can give is to be prepared for anything. Things will inevitably go wrong when you're traveling. Be prepared for delays, cancellations, and changes in plans. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be to deal with these situations.

When OuiBus (now BlaBlaBus) arrived late in Brussels, I had to adapt. I had no choice. I lost about 4 hours, and I knew I wouldn't get to do everything I wanted, so I had to be flexible and go with the flow. As a result, I had an amazing time and saw things I would never have seen if everything had gone according to plan.

The first post after a wonderful birthday trip shouldn't be to complain about a company, but here we are.

Travel insurance is a must

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios, but travel insurance is essential. If something goes wrong, you'll be glad you have it.

This is one of the most important travel tips I can give: always get travel insurance! Things can always go wrong regardless of how carefully you plan your trip. Whether it's a canceled flight or a lost piece of luggage, travel insurance will help you out when things don't go as planned.

I've used World Nomads for years and have always been happy with their service. Thank goodness I had travel insurance because I could get the care I needed without worrying about the cost.

Pack light and smart

Pack smart. Bring along items that are versatile and can be used in multiple ways. This will help you save space in your suitcase and avoid packing too many things.

You don't need to bring everything with you when you travel. Choose only the essentials and leave the rest at home. This will make your trip much easier and less stressful.

You're not going to Mars. Most essentials can be purchased at your destination. It gives you a reason to go shopping!

It will also save you time and hassle packing and unpacking, saving you money on baggage fees. You'll also be able to move around more easily and not worry about lugging a heavy suitcase around.

Wear your heaviest items on the plane if you need to bring heavy items. This will save you from having to pay extra for baggage fees. If you wear your heaviest coat or boots, you won't have to pack them in your luggage. This hack can also help you save space in your suitcase.

For me, it's Betelgeuse (my black and white striped carry-on suitcase), a weekender, and maybe a backpack. I travel for work so I need to bring my gear with me. Otherwise, it's just a carry-on.

Plan ahead

The more you plan, the smoother your trip will go. Ensure you have all the necessary documents and information before you leave so you don't run into any problems while you're gone.

Make copies of important documents. This is especially important if you're traveling abroad. Keep copies of your passport, insurance information, and itinerary in a safe place, separate from the originals. If they're lost or stolen, you'll have a backup.

You'll save time and aggravation dealing with issues while you're away from home.

Do your research

Before you travel to a new place, take some time to do your research. 

This will help you avoid wasting time and money on activities that you're not interested in. Look up popular tourist attractions as well as lesser-known gems that only the locals know about. And don't forget to check the reviews!

Research is so important before travel. Read up on the places you're going, talk to people who have been there, and look for travel warnings. You avoid dangerous situations and guarantee that you have a fantastic and safe time.

Take advantage of tech

There are tons of great travel apps that can make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Download a few before you go and see how they can help you during your trip. I like to use apps to help me find things to do, get around, and stay connected while I’m traveling.

Some of my favorite apps: Citymapper and Hopper.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water will help you avoid dehydration and keep your energy levels up, so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when traveling in hot weather. Bring a reusable water bottle with you to fill it up whenever necessary. You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up once you're through the checkpoint. This will save you from buying an overpriced water bottle once you're past security.

I had one of those collapsible water bottles, but it was more of a hassle. S'well and Kleen Kanteen make awesome stainless steel water bottles. If you prefer a glass water bottle, I find that BKR makes the best and comes in three different sizes.

ALLEZ ELIZABETH - QUOTE - How to Make the Most Out of Your Vacation Travel Hacks That Will Save You Time, Money, and Heartache
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” – Amelia Earhart

Protect your belongings

Keep your valuables safe by keeping them close to you or in a safe place. This will help you avoid losing anything important while you're away from home.

No one wants to lose their belongings while they’re on vacation. Keep your valuables close to you or in a safe place, so you don’t have to worry about them. Better yet, leave your expensive jewelry and gear at home. This will help you enjoy your trip without worrying about losing anything important. If you don't want to lose it, leave it at home.

Do not flash your valuables around or leave them in plain sight when you're out and about. If you must carry a purse or bag, keep it close to your body and don't let go of it. If you're going to the beach, don't leave your things unattended. Keep an eye on them or put them in a safe place.

Keep your money safe

When traveling, it's important to keep your money safe. Be sure to carry enough cash with you to cover all of your expenses. It's also a good idea to keep your money in a safe place, like a money belt or hidden pocket. This will help you avoid losing your money or having it stolen.

Carrying cash can be risky, but it’s often the best way to pay for things when traveling. If you’re worried about carrying too much cash, you can also consider getting a travel credit card. This will allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs without carrying around a lot of money.

Be aware of your surroundings

When traveling, it's important to be aware of your surroundings. Criminals don't care that you're on vacation. This will help you stay safe and avoid dangerous situations. Pay attention to the people around you and be cautious when exploring new places.

If you’re ever feeling unsafe, trust your gut and get out of there as soon as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Beware of scams

When traveling, it's important to be aware of scams. There are many people out there who will try to take advantage of tourists. Be sure to research and be cautious of anyone who seems suspicious.

Some common scams to be aware of are:

  • People pretending to be police officers or other officials who will try to get you to hand over your money or valuables.
  • People who will offer to help you with something and then demand payment for their services.
  • People who will try to sell you something that is fake or overpriced.
  • People who will offer to take your picture and then demand money for it.

If you’re ever approached by someone who seems suspicious, trust your gut and walk away. It’s not worth risking your safety for.

Be respectful of other cultures

When visiting another country, it’s important to know their customs and traditions. This will help you avoid offending anyone and make the most of your trip. Do some research before you go so you know what to expect. And when in doubt, always err on the side of caution.

For example, in some cultures, it’s considered rude to take photos of people without permission. In others, it’s perfectly acceptable.  If you're unsure what the norms are in the place you're visiting, just ask! Knowing your destination's customs will help you avoid offending anyone and ensure you have a positive experience. Show your respect by being a good ambassador for your own country.

Know the local laws and customs

When you travel to a new place, you must know the local laws and customs. Don't use ignorance as an excuse. If you're not sure about something, Google it.

In France, for example, you must be able to show your government-issued identification (i.e., passport) when requested or within four hours at a police station.

It's also against the law to hide your face in public in France. Any garment that covers the face is considered concealment. A maximum penalty of €150 may be imposed for failing to comply, and there are no exceptions for tourists under the law. Yikes!

…and in Singapore. Whew. If you like to knock 'em back. Here's what you could be arrested for.

  • Getting caught being drunk in public.
  • Drinking during prohibited hours and locations.

You could be fined, imprisoned, or caned, depending on the severity of the crime.

If you're in Germany:

Don't jaywalk. It's not only prohibited, but it's also considered extremely inconsiderate. If you're at fault for an accident, you could be fine AND liable for damages.


Don’t forget to have fun on your vacation! It’s a time to relax and enjoy yourself, so make sure you take advantage of everything your destination offers. Explore new places, try new things, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Traveling can be a stressful experience, but it doesn't have to be. Following these simple travel hacks can make your trip more enjoyable and stress-free. So next time you're packing for a vacation, remember these tips and enjoy your trip!

*Hey, this page contains affiliate links. There’s no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission when you decide to use them. They help me keep this party going.


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