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9 of the Most Useful Travel Hacks

Luke Armstrong | Feb 23, 2021

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This blog post was updated February 23, 2021.


You can read as many articles about travel tips as you want, but you can’t plan for everything.

I didn’t plan on being mauled by an escaped raccoon named Loco in the highland jungles of Guatemala when I started traveling. But after I was, I was glad to have packed band-aids and purchased travel insurance!

After 11 years on the road, I’ve amassed the ultimate list of what you need on a vacation.

These are my go-to tips for making the traveling life ever more graceful.

1. Binder clips are your best friend

Binder clips make a great travel companion.

You know that feeling on the edge of chaos where all your things are crammed in your pockets? You want to get yourself together, but it seems there’s never time to organize the pandemonium that lives in your pockets. Luckily, there are binder clips.

I love them. I clip them onto my pockets to neatly contain my things. I know where my money, airline tickets, and credit cards are and have the confidence that even if I do a cartwheel, they won’t get lost.

Binder clips will also, protect the heads of your razor. They can also keep that mess of electronic cords organized. Having a few always comes in handy. Que Viva the binder clips!

2. Use private mode when browsing for tickets

Many online airline ticket sales sites use complicated algorithms that pinpoint your location to figure out the level of desire you have towards a purchase.

Airlines increase their price if they think you really need to be on a flight. Officially, this is called point of purchase sales. You don’t need to take it — just turn on private browsing when searching for airline tickets and no one needs to know how much you absolutely have to be on that flight.

3. Use Airbnb

On Airbnb you can usually rent an entire apartment for the price of a hotel room — hotels better be careful. People are getting better spaces and paying less on Airbnb.

4. Download a map

Download a map just in case you lose service.

Without Google maps, I’m not even sure how people used to navigate. I’m surprised I ever made it home from my wanderings without Google Maps as an aid.

But all the help of Google maps can’t help you if you don’t have the internet in your country of destination. Before you go, download the maps of the areas you will be so they are available when you are offline.

5. Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape

Duct tape is one of the most underrated travel products. Should I tell you about how duct tape saved Christmas in Columbia? Maybe I should tell you about the time that my broken bag was never going to get checked out of Kathmandu without duct tape saving the day?

With duct tape, you don’t even need a place to stay, you can build one! (Please don’t actually do this.) Duct tape will save your life in ways you never could have imagined.

6. Pack dryer sheets

Few smells great us with as much sunshine as clothes coming out of the dryer. If you pack a few dryer sheets with you, you can keep your bag and clothes smelling fresh even after you’ve worn them.

7. Use Google Translate to cross language barriers

I’ve spent thousands of hours and years of my life learning foreign languages. I wish I had known that Google was going to make an app for that ...

While it’s not nearly as rewarding as the real thing — the technology has grown pretty effective and can save you many misunderstandings.

8. Email yourself a copy of your passport and other important documents

If you ever do lose these documents, you will have instant relief knowing photos of them have been safely stored in an email inbox that can be accessed anywhere.

9. Print Photos You Take of Locals and Give to Them

This is as much a heart-hack than a travel hack and one I hope to spread to you.

Often when I travel to a developing country and am going to be around for a little while, I find a photoshop and then ask the locals I’ve been seeing if they’d like a picture of themselves. You can do it easily with an iPhone and most photoshops let you email them what you’d like to print.

People seem to get ecstatic in their appreciation of this gesture. It’s a simple way to leave some kindness behind. That's the sort of trace you’re allowed to leave!


Guest contributor: Luke Armstrong

About the Author

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.

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