Going abroad can be an expensive and time-consuming process, with the preparation and journey seeming to take longer than the holiday itself. But there are many things you can do to relieve the stress on your nerves and your wallet. From searching for the cheapest flight to finding hidden ways to recharge your gadgets, our exclusive travel hacks will help smooth your trip away – and save a few pounds in the process.
- Book your flights early – some airlines release seats 12 months in advance. Use a range of flight comparison sites such as Skyscanner, Kayak and momondo to get the lowest price.
- Pay for your flight or holiday with a credit card. That way, you’re protected if anything goes wrong with your airline, accommodation or holiday company.
- Tell your mobile company that you’re going away. They will give you options on the cheapest way to use your phone abroad, especially if you’re travelling outside the EU. Another top travel hack is to keep your phone in ‘airplane mode’ throughout your holiday, if you’re worried about accidental downloads.
- Get travel insurance as soon as you book your trip to cover yourself against flight or holiday cancellation, as well as any loss or damage to your luggage in transit.
- Change your currency before you get to the airport. Exchanges in airports are notoriously expensive compared to high street banks or other currency services.
- Roll up your clothes instead of folding them. By using this packing hack, you’ll be able to get much more in your suitcase and there will be fewer creases.
- Keep a copy of all important documents, such as your passport, in case they get lost or stolen. Better still, take a digital picture of the documents and email the images to yourself.
- Keep your luggage weight down by using your full hand luggage allowance and wearing your heaviest clothes.
- Top travel hack for the snappy dresser: Roll up your belts and pack them inside the collars of your shirts to keep them stiff and crease-free.
- If you take prescription medications, be sure to pack enough for an extended trip, in case you're delayed. Carrying a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP is also highly advisable, as some medicines are prohibited overseas and you may need to prove that they are for you.
- Empty contact lens cases are great for carrying small amounts of liquids, make-up or lotions instead of taking the whole jar.
- Mark your hold luggage as ‘Fragile’. Airport staff will take better care of your cases and it’s more likely they will be the first off the flight when you’re waiting in baggage reclaim.
- Some bank accounts or credit cards give you free airport lounge access, so check to see if you can relax in style before your flight. Some lounges also sell one-off passes.
- If you don’t want to pay for water after you pass security, keep an empty bottle with you and fill it up on the other side.
- A great travel hack is that if there’s a choice of queue, either at check-in or security, choose the line on the left. Research shows that most people are right-handed and tend to turn to the right first, leaving the left-hand side queues less busy.
- Take a fully charged portable battery to make sure your phone and gadgets don’t run out of power in the airport or on the flight.
- Download free maps to save on phone data. There are a number of apps available that allow you to download maps for specific areas, such as Google Maps. Choose where you’re likely to visit and install the maps on your phone.
- Keep your batteries in the fridge. If you use a lot of battery-powered gadgets, keeping the batteries chilled when not in use retains their charge. Note: this travel hack works best with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries rather than alkaline.
- Pay in the local currency. When paying by card abroad you may get asked whether you want to pay in sterling or the local currency, but always go for the latter. You’ll save on expensive conversion fees.
- Use a translation app to understand signs, instructions and menus. Google Translate is free and can even translate words viewed through your phone’s camera in real time.
- One final travel life hack: If you forget a plug adapter to recharge your phone/camera/iPad, check the back of your hotel TV. Most modern sets will have a USB port you can use.
It's the little things that can make or break a holiday. Which is why the Post Office want you to know these ingenious holiday hacks. Whatever you pack, remember that travel insurance is more important than your favourite tea bags!