I’ve recently had a few conversations with friends who enjoy travelling and realised that there are various travel tips and tricks I am aware that others aren’t. A couple of people have encouraged me to do a blog of these various tips and so below are five of my favourite tips and tricks that I have discovered whilst travelling.
Use a VPN when searching for flights!
There are a number of advantages to VPNs: they keep your data safe, they can make you anonymous online and most importantly in terms of travel, they can save you money! By setting your VPN to a country with a lower cost of living, you can find offers from airlines aimed at people purchasing flights from that country. Skyscanner itself also allows you to change where you are based allowing cheaper deals so it might be worth messing around with the feature on there and then booking directly with the airline using a VPN.
For example, using Skyscanner without any adjustments to the settings, the cheapest return flight I could find between London and Bangkok was £345 with China Airlines and Shenzen Airline. By adjusting the settings to ‘base’ myself in India, I was able to find a cheaper deal for the exact same flights for £331, a saving of £14. Although this may not sound like much, obviously when travelling as a couple or family or just making a lot of flights, these savings can easily mount up and in some places a night’s AirBnb can cost as little as £14.
Get a Monzo card (or equivalent)
Monzo is a UK mobile only bank account that I’ve found offers great exchange rates (Mastercard’s rates) abroad and doesn’t add fees for foreign transactions. When writing this blog, it would have cost me £169.33 for a €200 transaction, almost a £6 saving compared to a Post Office Travel Money card (£175.15). As an added bonus, for when you do need to use cash abroad, you’re also able to withdraw £200 in foreign currency every 30 days with no fees.
I believe there are a few similar banks to Monzo such as Starling so make sure to have a look around and find the one that’s best for you.
Before you go, do some research!
I’ve made the mistake before of having had a quick look at a destination before I’ve booked my flights but then not done any further research before travelling. I found that this ate into my time in a city and on occasion resulted in me wandering around aimlessly whilst probably missing out on some excellent sights.
Generally, before I travel, I’ll now buy a guidebook (I’d recommend Lonely Planet, but others are obviously available), download the local public transport app (or a map) and highlight some places I want to visit. I’ll also try to come up with a vague plan of when to visit places so I’m not zig-zagging back and forth across a city.
Do a free walking tour!
This is the first thing I do in most cities and a great way to get an idea of the geography of a new place whilst also seeing some of the sights and hearing some of the city’s stories. These tours are genuinely free and whilst tipping the guide at the end is obviously appreciated (I tip about £10/€10 usually), if you don’t want to or can’t afford to that is completely fine.
I tend to use a website called Freetour.com to book my tours ahead of time as this site lists tours from various suppliers and allows me to have a look at what is covered on each one. Whilst I usually book in advance, with most walking tours you can just turn up on the day at the location and join in. I’ve done walking tours now in Cologne, Dublin, Kiev and Madrid and have found them brilliant.
Take a power bank!
In this age of technology, this should be an obvious one. When travelling I use my phone as my camera, map, translator and guidebook. Without a decent power bank, my phone would usually have died by lunch time, so by being able to charge on the go allows me to carry less around with me whilst also keeping technology at my fingertips. There are plenty of decent ones available on the market, however, make sure whichever one you buy has at least 3 or 4 charges worth of capacity as otherwise you may run out of charge if travelling for a long period.
Hopefully some of these tips have helped and if this post is popular I hope to do some more of these style in the future. To see what I’m up to whilst I’m travelling and see any local tips I find make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!