16 SECRETS EVERY SMART TRAVELLER SHOULD KNOW
Whether you’re an expert wanderer, a novice traveller or a seasoned solo adventurer, travelling can be exciting - and daunting. Whilst it takes a lot of gusto, courage and determination, the secret to travelling smart is tapping into instinctive everyday behaviours that will transform your trips from ordinary to extraordinary. Whilst I’ve been lucky to travel around the world, I still make mistakes and have come to expect the unexpected. So when the team at Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central recently asked me how I travelled smart, I knew I had to share a few tips every smart traveller should know.
1. Get money smart in the months leading up to your departure date and organise an automatic direct debit to deposit money into a high interest earning savings account. You may as well as earn a little extra on your savings! Also, set up the account so you have to personally visit a bank branch to make a withdrawal. This should deter you from taking money out of your savings on the regular.
2. Before you leave, break down your budget into a daily allowance and remember stick to that whilst you’re on the road. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a dream holiday to a mountain of credit card debt because you didn’t budget smartly.
3. Always consider the time of year you travel. Avoid peak travel times on Monday morning and Thursday afternoons as this is when most business travellers fly, and flights will be more expensive. Book destinations in their off season or shoulder season - as an example, I never travel in the Northern Hemisphere in August as this is the peak summer month for people to travel. Keep an eye on school holidays and public holidays in the city or country you’re visiting. I missed out on visiting Osaka when I was in Japan due to their school holidays because all the trains had been booked months in advance.
4. I’m not a fan of credit cards as they can be more trouble than good. But if your smart about them, you can really use them to your advantage when you travel. In the months leading up to your trip, sign up to a co-branded credit card that offers generous travel perks; such as points, priority boarding, free checked baggage, seat upgrades, travel insurance, lounge memberships and flight miles.
5. Be smart and research flights early - the further away from your trip you book, the cheaper it will be. There are online forecasting tools that can even track airfares and let you know when you should buy tickets to get the lowest price, such as Kayak.
6. Always research accommodation, flights and travel insurance on your computer and remember to clear your cache every morning. Some online booking companies have been known to recognise your IP address and will increase prices you’ve previously looked at over time.
7. I am all for booking accommodation in a central location because it just makes travelling easier. On the flip side, I prefer not to spend a lot of money either. If you’re like me you’re never in your hotel room - you’re too busy exploring. No frills, no fuss hotels like the Holiday Inn Express are perfect for the busy traveller, like me.
8. Don’t even consider leaving home without travel insurance - and that includes travelling within your own country. Things happen and I’ve learned it’s best to expect the unexpected. Research, shop around, ask questions and read the fine print. If you travel to Bali, a lot of travel insurance policies won’t protect you for motorcycle accidents. If you plan on travelling around Bali this way, because it really is a lot of fun, make sure it’s included in your travel insurance. Someone wise also once told me “if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel”.
9. When you book your flight, choose a special meal - I always choose a gluten free meal. You will get your meal first (as airlines serve special meals before they commence the general food service) and if you get a gluten free meal, you won’t feel bloated when you arrive at your destination. Win win.
10. Save money on public transport and taxis by walking everywhere - it’s a great way to get some extra exercise without even realising it. It’s also a great way to get to know a city and its locals. Finding somewhere to eat healthily can be difficult as you may not be familiar with the city you’re exploring - so always pack healthy snacks in your bag, which you can munch on throughout the day. And always, always carry bottled water.
11. Book accommodation that offers a Grab and Go breakfast like the Holiday Inn Express hotels; this will help you save money and waste time finding good cafes to dine in. Book a hotel room with a small fridge so you can shop like a local and store fresh food, instead of wasting money on cafes and restaurants three (or more) times a day.
12. Travel well by packing light. Make a packing list one month before your departure date and start setting items aside. This will give you time to reflect and reassess your packing, and cull items when your departure date gets close. Only pack up to three pairs of shoes as they can add fast kilos to your luggage allowance. Wear heavier items, such as winter coats, on your flight to maximise space in your suitcase. And pack smaller items into bigger items - such as phone chargers and adaptors into sneakers.
13. Always, always, always check-in online before you get to the airport. Why? Firstly, the online check-in line at the airport is always shorter, so you can drop your bags of quickly and without fuss. Secondly, you get to pre-select your seat when checking-in online, which means you can control where you sit, rather than being stuck in a middle seat.
14. Get smart by using SeatGuru to peruse your plane prior to take off and select the seat that best suits you. I use this every single time I fly! Also, always see if you can secure a bulkhead seat as it has the best leg space without having any passengers seated in front of you. If you can’t book this seat online, choose your next best seat and when you arrive at the airport ask if you can sit in a bulkhead seat. They’re usually reserved for parents with small children so hopefully you won’t have too many families on your flight.
15. It might sound obvious to some, but don’t get caught out with your mobile phone data. Turn mobile data and global roaming off before you leave for your holiday. Invest in a pre-paid SIM card in the country you are visiting so you have the luxury of using the internet and making calls without the worry. If you don’t want a SIM card, don’t worry – Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central has free wifi for all its guests. How good is that!
16. If you’re travelling solo, it can be an amazing experience. Just remember to be smart about your general wellbeing and safety. Always touch base with family and friends once a day or every couple of days, never divulge too much information about yourself, your accommodation or travel plans to a stranger or a new “friend”, and never be afraid to ask for help if you feel your situation is compromised.
This post is in collaboration with Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central