- Secure your home…!
You want to come home to your beautiful palace all intact! Well, if its the winter, leave your heat settings on a minimum heat so your home doesn’t freeze over and cause your pipes to burst , or you coming home to a freezing house. Don’t forget to turn your fridge to low as well. Leave a timer light on, that comes on at set times during your time away. You can also leave your PC on as a DIY security webcam, or ask a friend, family member or good neighbor to keep an eye and put away your mail so it’s not lying about for anyone to see you aren’t home. Do buy them a nice gift for when you return. You are a smart traveler after all!
- Don’t forget your passport
Even worse, don’t forget to check that you have the right visas or leave to stay. For some EU residents, travel to USA requires an ESTA as opposed to a Visa. ESTAs last for at least 2 years and cost £14 per application in UK (An application can be for an individual or a group/family application of up to 50 people, the fee is the same!) Well bear with…You can apply online here it takes less than 5 mins! With your documentation sorted.Know what travel habits will enhance your trips and learn a few phrases of your destination so you can communicate with locals better. When you get there, respect their cultures and traditions and why not try out the local cuisine. Be sure to try out the non-tourist zones. And your health matters, so don’t forget to look after number one. Don’t forget your meds and beware of the places you can’t take non-prescription meds like Dubai!
- Clear your browser cache before booking
Now this can be tricky on a phone or tablet yet its still doable if you use apps to help you out. Well, you must be asking what’s this got to do with how to travel smarter or cheaper?Do you remember to browse privately or to clear your search before you do the next search for that flight or hotel and after every search? We thought not. Well, from now on DO IT. When we are searching for bargain European flights online, we do this. In fact, we browse incognito and like to use the www.google.com/ncr and NCR stands for Non Country Redirection. And how does this help? You get to receive results that include other countries bargain deals esp. in Dollars, even if you are browsing from USA.
Super tip: Travel companies keep a record of what you have already seen online, and won’t deliver the real bargain offers for hotels or flights which they can. Instead your searches will return offers at or close to the prices you’ve already seen. Thus browse incognito or clear browser cache, AFTER EVERY SEARCH until you find that sweet deal.
- How long is your trip?
Okay, we do do short trips often like weekenders, bank holiday getaways and overnight business trips. Are you like that or have a vision to do this often? The thing is we are smart travelers and are members of an elite travel club for ordinary mamas, papas, singles etc. anyone really who loves to travel better for less. BUT if you don’t have access to the benefits we do, then listen up…When you search for and book accommodation, don’t avoid the big name business hotels but think about this: will you really use all the facilities on offer & which you will pay for? Think pools, conference rooms, spas, health and fitness center or gym, the shop etc.? If the answer is NO, remember it’s a short hop over, then our advice is Look for the B&Bs, smaller boutique hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Premier Inns, Small Best westerns.
- Refreshments & Snacks for your trip
This is essential for flying and road trips alike esp. if you travel with children. It may be common knowledge but not for first time or infrequent travelers. This NEXT bit if traveling within your home country e.g. UK, may be a non-issue. Don’t underestimate it for International travel. Remember DON’T TAKE liquids in Hand Luggage through airport security unless it’s under 100mls which ain’t much! BUT you can get as many drinks over 100mls or water as you like once through security from the Duty free shops onto the flight.On a road trip absolutely pack as much as you can carry in terms of water or healthy non fizzy drinks. We have a cooler bag just for that. This helps in keeping us hydrated and saves us buying overpriced drinks at Service and rest places along the motor way. Snacks are another matter and as long as they are sealed. Airport security don’t mind them apart from dairy products, insects, and meat products. So we pack some sandwiches in seal-able sandwich bags. We buy healthy fruit snacks, dried fruits and I’m gaga about nuts and take them with us. I don’t know about you but airline food is often horrible or simply not enough for a full grown adult! Short haul flights don’t even offer meals anymore irrespective of the time one spends to get on that flight between meals or even early morning. So be sure to pack something healthy & filling to eat on your road trip or independent of airlines and airports.
- Do check-in online or use an App
So you are travelling by air and booking online, why not go the extra mile and do check-in online or use a travel app downloaded direct to your phone and you can check-in on your mobile device and save our boarding pass on there, real cool? In some cases this saves you lining up at the airport for ages! You can do this on the internet within 24-30 hours before your flight. If you live close by or decide to stay overnight by the airport, you can check in at your terminal electronically by using the convenient kiosks. You don’t need a paper boarding pass if you got it on your phone or tablet. And by the way choose your seats when you book your flight and double confirm when you check-in! Especially important if you travel as a family with kids, or you’re a couple. You don’t wish to seat a mile away from your children or beloved. This is a digital age right and a real cool way to travel smart by air!
- Keep Entertained
Be it adult or children if it’s longer than 2 hrs then its definitely a long trip in our book. If you’re taking a trans-Atlantic or long haul flight, you could be in the air or transit for hours, so make sure to pack plenty of things to do in your carry-on luggage. We have made sure and advise you to get this done; make sure your handheld devices comply with in-flight safety regulations and have extensions that will let you charge them on the flight as well as connect to the system to play or free flight WI-FI. We always take a pack of playing cards, download games on our tablets, a couple of Books, puzzles and magazines to pass the time.Plan some chill out, relaxing, even sleep if you can on your long haul flight. Chances you are flying across time zones, so give your body a chance to rest. And always moisturize lots on the flight or you will be puffed up for 24+hrs on landing and it ain’t a great look!
- Pack light, pack smart, go hand luggage
We have found that when we travel light aka just hand luggage or an overnight bag, we get where we are heading faster. Leave that kitchen pantry behind when you pack. Unless you are going away for a month, pack light. Roll your clothes up and place little items inside of shoes. If in doubt don’t pack it, period! Yes, it’s tempting to match every outfit with a shoe and handbag…but guess what, you won’t use them trust us on that. Lighter bags make traveling to and from the airport considerably easier and your road-trip lighter too. If you gotta use public transport at any point, lugging around several heavy suitcases won’t be such fun and you will find getting down then underground on and off buses or trains a upper nightmare. Also lighter bags will save you from potentially expensive excess baggage fees. Pack like a flight attendant and you will be traveling smarter too!Fortunately most airlines permit passengers to bring one bag of up to 12kgs on board the aircraft for free. Make use of this by packing the essentials. Don’t chance your electronics getting damaged in your checked in luggage, pack your equipment rolled in socks if it fits in your carry-on bag e.g. tablet, laptop, games console, chargers, camera etc. For that road-trip keep em close esp. on public means.
- Take your camera & power pack
This may sound like a given tip to travel smarter…after all this is a digital era and everyone, their aunt and pet dog own a phone right! WRONG. Take your camera and capture those moments you will have forever with Clear images, as opposed to those on a tablet or phone. Yes, these days’ phones and tablets have high quality cameras but what if your phone/tablet’s battery dies. You could missed some of the most treasured moments of your trip, so do yourself a favor and take your trusty Nikon or Panasonic with you too. Also, absolutely buy a portable power pack or take spare batteries with you and carry them while out. And don’t forget your universal outlet plug.
- Check your technology
And we’re talking your phone roaming, Skype, WI-FI etc. Way back in 2008 we traveled to Greece and I forgot to check with my mobile/cell phone services provider on a roaming plan, Suffice to say we weren’t best pleased with the bill when we came back home to UK. These days when we travel we take a tablet with us so we can use Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, even Facebook messenger, which are also available on our smart phones. Use these options with hotel or free available WI-FI abroad as much as possible for phone calls/chats.
Super Tip: Fully charge your gadgets before your trip. And if you’re flying, know that most security require your electronic devices to be charged up so that you can demonstrate them powering on, on request. So don’t take that chance of a drained gadget. You could miss your flight…
- Use your travel points
Now if you are a frequent flyer you should definitely travel smarter. You may be accumulating travel points and benefits and you don’t even check…! Those loyalty programs are there for a reason. If you aren’t a frequent traveler we absolutely encourage you to sign up for any travel company or club loyalty programs you think you may utilize in the near future today. Do it now. Some that we are members with are: Flying Blue, Jet air, British Airways, Emirates etc. Now the trick is to ensure your benefits or points don’t flush. i.e. you lose them by non-use. If you are a budget conscious person consider changing loyalty… Airline reward programs have changed dramatically lately, and so have the benefits they offer.
Most airlines have shifted from rewarding you by how far you fly to how much you spend. So if you buy cheap international flights, you’ll earn far lesser miles.Here’s how to hack the system. You don’t necessarily have to switch loyalty programs and you don’t have to bank your air miles with the airline you use. There are still some airlines that award miles based on distance flown for instance Alaska Airlines. So why not fly Delta but earn Alaska miles, then redeem them on partner airlines like KLM/Air France!
- Compare travel styles
How do we mean by that? Well consider this how long is that ride to the airport? There is checking in and security checks, your flight waiting times, transit times etc. We recently visited Florence in Italy and met a young couple that had driven from Croatia! They said it had taken them 6 hours tops! We kinda wondered how that was even possible! When we totted up the time it took us to get to Manchester Airport 40 mins, plus check in and boarding time 3hrs, the flight itself was 3 hrs, plus the 2 hrs transit thru Munich and finally grabbing our cases and we had opted for the Airport Shuttle as the ride to our hotel. Our journey was almost double time and cost more in the bigger picture. Would a road trip have been shorter and more enjoyable via Dover, channel crossing, drive to Italy…YES cheaper & more scenic, NO in time costs probably not!But it could be on your next trip. Consider the alternative time and cost savings and how you would feel if you did it that way!