Travel Tips and Tricks
Golden Rule: Use Your Credit Cards Properly!
You may have heard of the idea of travel hacking using credit cards. While in theory, it isn't too hard, there are many things that stand in most peoples' way of using it effectively. That is usually when people get discouraged, but the thing is, with small changes to your life, you can earn on things you already do on a daily basis. Stop paying your rent by cheque or your insurance with a debit card. These are both high value items that can be put on a credit card and paid off like you usually do giving you free points!
Before booking your next big trip, look to see if there is a major credit card with a higher than normal sign up bonus. To get the sign up bonus, you often need to spend a minimum amount and airfare, hotels and car rentals are a great way to eat away at that minimum spend! Not only that, the perks like insurance, lounge passes, or even travel discounts make it even more enticing. Our favourite travel card is the Marriott Bonvoy Amex as its points can be used both at the hotel or with 40 airline rewards systems!
Planning your wedding? Put everything onto your new credit card to redeem for an amazing honeymoon! The average wedding will easily give you enough points for a week stay at a gorgeous Marriott property!
These will quickly become your best friend. People often ask how we can afford to rent cars for our trips and this is often how we do. When cars are needed to be transported from one city to another, they are offered for only a couple of dollars if anyone wants to drive them. Some even come with free gas or travel expenses. Sites like Imoova or Jucy can help you locate one that works for you!
We rented a car from Jucy Australia and had one of the best times of our lives. We were able to get a car for 7 days in Brisbane to be transported to Cairns for only $1/day! They included a free tank of gas, sleeping bags, pillows and anything we wanted in their "free zone".
I think at the end of the day we spent $50/person including food and accommodations for the whole trip. To learn more about road trips visit our destinations page for itineraries.
Download City Government Apps
Many cities or major attractions will have city guides created by the government. In cities such as Catania, Italy and Alba Iulia, Romania, you can explore the city with your phone's QR code scanner! There are also private apps like gpsmycity.com that offer step by step city walks with great information throughout. The majority of the time, the apps will come with an offline map already downloaded so the are perfect to use to get around.
Free Days in Museums/Cities
Many cities will have one day a month that the major museums or art galleries are free to the public. If you have any flexibility with your travel dates, find out when there are free days in the city to save a bundle on your next trip! Visiting Paris? The Louvre is free in the evening of the first Sunday of the month!
Prepare for Airport Security
The key to getting through airport security without a headache is to prepare. Ensure that all your electronics and toiletries can be easily removed without tearing through the entire bag. Packing Cubes are a great way to organize your bags including your carry on! Click here to read more packing tips! Save yourself the embarrassment of having to grab your liquids and have your unmentionables fall out!
If you are wearing a sweater, put your phone, wallet, and any change into the pocket and send it all through the xray together. No longer fuss getting the change from the bottom of the tray and breeze right through!
Choose the Right Security Line
The key to moving efficiently through security is choosing your security line based on what type of travellers are in front. Families are almost always the slowest group to travel through the scanners as they often have extra gear. You best bet is to keep an eye out for the business travellers. They pack light, keep liquids to a minimum, and know the drill when it comes to unpacking their computer or taking off shoes.
This is one of the best websites we have ever found! Whenever we have a layover, its the first site to check. Not only is it the best site to find out lounge amenities (we all know not all lounges are created equal!), but it also has lots of info about the best seating areas to relax or catch some shuteye. Did you know there are comfy sleeping spots in Dubai, Amsterdam and many other cities? We didn't either! The site has saved us many times with long or overnight layovers!
One of the simplest but most cost effective (and environmentally friendly) tips is to bring a reusable water bottle with you to the airport. Once you have passed through security, fill it up and have water on the flight. Forget the overpriced stores in the airport and save a water bottle from ending up in a landfill. If you bring a Lifestraw bottle or other filtering system, you wont even have to worry about the water quality!
The alternative if you live close to the airport, is to bring a frozen water bottle. According to the TSA and CATSA, frozen liquid is not subject to the same rules are regular liquid so its a nice work around if you can get to the airport before it starts to melt!
Dotting almost every major city are those "I" signs. Those are tourist offices and they are actually your best friends in a new city. We can't tell you how many times we have found amazing parades like the Bulgarian holiday of Slavonic Literature and Culture or the Circumetna train in Sicily because of their help! Do yourself a favor and pop into one. You may be able to find the top things to do in Brasov online, but its harder to find out what is happening in the city while you are there without a locals input! The tourist office is also a great source for finding out prices to ensure you are not overcharged by a taxi or Tuk Tuk if you are heading between popular attractions or to the airport.
Take the free walking tours
With so many of us having a limited time to visit each city, time needs to be used wisely. Starting your visit off with a free walking tour will help to orientate yourself in the city and check off a couple of the must sees. Not only are they free, but the guide is often a local who can help you discover some of the finer parts of their city! Just remember, you should always tip your guide!
Free Bathrooms Everywhere
While it is an odd topic, consistent access to clean toilets is something that is often very tough to come by when travelling. If you are in a city, stop into any large hotel and you will usually find a clean "western" toilet somewhere in their lobby. You are meant to be a guest to use them, but if you walk in confidently you will usually have no issues. Even better, if you find a hotel with a restaurant attached, you are almost guaranteed to be able to use one.
North American Road Trips
Travelling long term is all about trying to reduce costs. If you are doing a road trip in North America, there are a number of ways that you can stretch your money. Instead of getting a coffee every morning, just get hot water from a drive through or gas station in your own mug (ask first) and make yourself a tea or instant coffee! Same said during the day when its warm, filling your mug with ice from an ice machine and using your own pop, can significantly reduce costs.
Keep an eye out for casinos as often they offer free play bonuses if you sign up for their free players cards. We stopped at many to cool down in the air conditioning, have free drinks and even ice cream! Finally, check out sites like casinocamper.com and freecampsites.net to find many free spots to sleep if you are in a RV!