A few insider travel tricks and a dose of nomad know-how can turn anyone into a fully-fledged jetsetter in no time. And that’s where we come in.
Don’t worry, you won’t see anything as obvious as “check in online ahead of time” here. We’ve rounded up a bunch of tips and hacks that are actually useful.
Take note now to make that next trip a little easier.
- Book an economy ticket with a Y or B booking code for a higher chance of an upgrade. These are usually the "flexible economy" tickets, which are first on the waitlist to be upgraded.
- Book flights Wednesday at 1am, just one hour after Tuesday midnight of the home country of the airline (you'll need to convert the time to your current location). Travel agents have to release their unsold tickets so pricing can drop a fair bit depending on availability. For example, if you're seeking a flight via Air France, book your tickets at 1am on Wednesday, Paris time.
- Do your research on code-sharing between airlines to make sure you maximise your points. Some code share deals offer fewer points and may limit other perks such as lounge access.
- Check return and one way options to ensure you’re getting the very best deal. Sometimes departure with airline A and return with airline B can be the cheapest option.
- Everyone knows aggregators are the best way to search for the cheapest fares, but do you know which ones are the best? Try Skyscanner for flights (though bear in mind the data has been cached in the last 24 hours, so the price isn't always spot on) and Hotel Finder for accommodation.
- Clear your cookies and search history to ensure you’re getting the cheapest fares.
- Check which method of payment charges the least amount in fees – often this will be POLi or PayPal – and pay via this method.
- Once you’ve found what you want to book, take advantage of price-match guarantees. Lots of travel agencies, such as Flight Centre, guarantee to beat the best rate out there.
Choosing your seat and meals:
- People hate sitting at the back of the plane, so that's where all the empty seats are. If you want a bit of extra room, ask to be seated at the back, especially if you're on a red-eye flight.
- If two of you are travelling and you want to book the whole row of three, try reserving the window and aisle seats. Chances are that the middle one will stay free unless the plane is completely full. If the seat does get taken, you can always ask to switch – it’s highly unlikely anyone will prefer a middle seat over an aisle or window.
- To reduce turbulence intensity, the best seats are those directly over the wings of the plane.
- To get your in-flight meal first, order the vegetarian or kosher option – these get handed out before the rest of the meals.
After you’ve booked:
- Check out Optiontown, where you can get a more premium seat, extra baggage, guaranteed empty seats next to you and more for just a fraction of what the airline would charge you.
- Avoid paying too much for travel insurance. Read our handy tips here.
- Be super savvy about your travel funds. See our expert’s guide here.
Travel gadgets and technology:
- Write down your IMEI number. This number can be found on your phone and you have to have it cancelled to claim back from your travel insurance for a lost or stolen phone.
- Buy an airline headphone adapter for a few dollars so that you can use your own, better headphones on a plane.
- Take a second phone with you, the disposable crappy kind that people throw in the bin after a heist. You don't want to explore the streets of an unknown neighbourhood while periodically pulling out your shiny iPhone 6s. Switch to the heist phone when exploring.
- Use Skype, WhatsApp or similar to stay in touch while away – they all can be set to be used on Wi-Fi only.
- Roll up small clothing items inside your shoes when packing.
- Do not bring anything silk. Seriously. It will get completely crushed in your bag and you will not be able to take it to a dry cleaner when overseas. Bad idea.
- Store your toiletries in individual ziploc bags. This isn't the most attractive method but it prevents a Ross-level "major shampoo explosion" from going all over your clothes (another reason not to bring silk).
- If you’re flying with a budget airline and paying extra for baggage, it could be a good idea to just add baggage to one person’s booking and share a case, especially if the trip is just for a long weekend.
At the airport:
- To save money on airline food and beverages, bring your own instant noodles and tea bags, then all you need is hot water
- Since you can’t bring water through security on an international flight, bring an empty plastic bottle and fill it up at the water fountain once you’re through.
- Bring your own reading material as airport book shops charge a premium. Try visiting a second-hand book store the weekend before you travel.