Lifestyle

52 Super Easy Ways You Can Make Vacation And Travel So Much Easier


1.

Take screen shots of all your travel confirmations and make two physical copies of your essential travel info because you never know.

screen shot of writer's bus ticket with QR code

3.

If you’re traveling internationally, double (no, TRIPLE) check that your passport still has plenty of time left on it for your plans.

The government recommends renewing it at least nine months before it expires. You can pay to get a renewal expedited. But, that’s not ideal for any party involved. 

4.

But! Keep in mind that there are still LOTS of cool domestic and/or short trip travel opportunities. I promise you can still have fun in other places BESIDES Italy (where seemingly everyone was this summer).

Related: There’s no need to feel like you’re missing out because you haven’t been to 53 countries like seemingly every other man on dating apps. Not everyone’s life or budget allows for that. You should be celebrating the things YOU are getting to do and don’t let someone else’s experience make your own pale in comparison. Folks are posting picturesque IGs, not their PTO calendars or credit card statements after going on said trips. And my writing this story is in hopes that you’ll get the most out of all of your future travels — no matter the length or destination <3.

5.

Look into a cruise (yep, a cruise even if you’ve said you’re “not a cruise person”) if you’d like to have a LOT of the trip planning done for you. And if you’d rather not be on a ship with a bunch of kids, there are *legit* good adult cruises.

the map

6.

And consider booking your trip with an actually cool group travel company. It’ll give you a chance to have someone do a chunk of the planning for you and meet like-minded people who wanna explore without waiting on flaky friends or partners who keep putting off that bucket-list trip.

7.

Check your credit card and bank’s rewards before you book to see if there are money-back rewards or complimentary services you can take advantage of.


9.

Check out SeatGuru for info on plane seats by carrier, date, and flight number so you find your perfect spot that suits your flying comfort level.

screen grab of a plane diagram

10.

Finding a great hotel deal doesn’t have to feel like work (for real). Try Hotwire Hot Rates (which show up in red while you search the travel booking site) to help you score some solid discounts on your next vacation. Just note that they’re often nonrefundable.

a screenshot of Hot Rate offers

11.

Also check out the Hopper app (a personal fave). It lets you sift through all sorts of travel deals for hotels, flights, car rentals, and home rentals. You can also set watch alerts for flights and get push alerts when the prices change.


12.

Plus! If you aren’t already using the free Google Flights flight price tracking, wyd still reading this.

screen grab of tracking for a flight from NYC to Mexico City

13.

Look up the COVID testing and masking rules and restrictions for your origin point, destination, and any places you’ll transit or visit during your vacation. And! Be respectful of them.

YUP, just because you can walk into your hometown’s grocery store without a mask or showing proof of vaccination doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to walk into an art museum in Europe in the same manner. Rules tend to change frequently and you should look them up a few times during your trip-planning process to make sure you have what you need. In August 2021, I had to wear my mask inside the Roman Colosseum…which is a completely open building. But! My word, it is ONE of the seventh wonders of the world and I’m so fortunate to be able to travel. Wearing a piece of fabric on my face is NBD given the context.

Check out the State Department’s travel advisories by country

14.

When you have to get tested, opt for a telehealth at-home COVID test instead of standing in line for one.


15.

Watch some YouTube videos about your destination before you go. It’ll be a way to get pumped for your trip and pick up all kinds of little tips along the way.


youtube.com

I LOOOOVE watching YouTube travel videos and have gleaned all sorts of travel tips, like don’t you dare order a coffee drink with milk in it outside of breakfast hours in Italy and to bring water shoes to Croatia (from the embedded video above!) because the beaches are so rocky. (One person in my tour group in Croatia last summer didn’t and stepped on a sea urchin. There was lots of blood.) And make sure to watch travel videos made by locals *and* also folks who are from where you’re from. For example, Wolter’s World has a series of videos about things that may surprise you about specific destinations. If you’re American, find videos that are geared toward Americans to do this to help set your expectations (and avoid offending locals and tour guides). 

16.

Even if you’re strictly a hotel person, check out Airbnb Experiences for tours and activities to try out in your locale.

screen shot of a ghost tour in Rome

17.

But also poke around on Viator a bit because they have amazing trips and experiences that you can’t always find on other sites. Embrace the bookable day excursion!

houses along the bay of Symi Island in Greece

18.

And look for free walking tours in your destinations. These tend to book up a bit earlier than paid tours, though, so it’s worth googling them as soon as your trip is booked.

Buckingham Palace seen through a dark park in London

19.

It’s even more important to book reservations for top attractions whenever possible.

back view of Michelangelo&#x27;s David statue

20.

And check out hop-on, hop-off bus and trolley tours because they’ll save your old dogs from an obscene amount of walking and they’ll hit most of the must-see attractions in one area.

When you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, this is an easy bet. 

21.

But! When making sightseeing bookings and appointments, don’t over-schedule yourself. Some timed ticket entries are very strict and you don’t wanna miss out on must-see attractions.

exterior of La Sagrada Familia, inside the cathedral

22.

If you’re into the ~unusual~, do a bit of research on Atlas Obscura to find sightseeing ops that are a bit off the beaten path or decidedly kooky.

23.

If you’re cruising, you can often find shore trip guides and tours for cheaper by booking ahead of time *not* through the cruise line. (Tour prices are gouged port-side and on the cruise.)

Rick Steves has a great video (shocker) about a Mediterranean cruise and in it, he mentions that it’s great for solo travelers. You get a lot of independence on days on shore but can meet other cruisers. 

24.

You can sometimes buy a combo city pass that covers many attractions for a discount. Look up passes by the locale for everything from transportation to parks and historic sites.

screen grab of NYC city pass combo ticket

25.

And sometimes you can luck out with free museums and even *free* museum admission days!

26.

Check into your flight ASAP! Don’t wait ’til you get to the airport. You want to check in before other passengers to secure your seat assignment and avoid getting bumped from the flight.

Airlines overbook flights and sometimes even when they don’t, passengers can get bumped simply for the reason that they were the last to check in for a flight

I used to be one of those people who refused to give up space on my phone for an airline app and would check into the flight at an airport kiosk before going through security. I stopped that a few years ago when I saw a fellow passenger find out that he didn’t have a seat assignment and the airline counter employee at the gate told them that they didn’t have a seat because they were the last to check in to the flight. Now when I’m ready to go on a trip, I plan accordingly to check into my domestic flight 24 hours before and for some international carriers I’ve been able to check in days beforehand (for example, EasyJet lets you check into your flight starting 30 days before). 

If you’re traveling internationally, you might have to show your negative COVID test results to even get *to* checkout counters. This also adds on quite a chunk of time at the airport. I nearly missed my flight back to NYC from Rome thanks to a line of hundreds of people at a checkpoint where any US-bound passengers had to have their test results checked. I made the flight. But it was a very close call!

27.

Get to the airport EVEN EARLIER for your flight than normal because, well, have you read or watched any news in summer 2022?! Airports are more crowded than during pre-COVID travel, and many airports and airlines aren’t at full staffing levels just yet.

29.

Pay for Nannybag (in select cities) for someone to babysit your bag in case your hotel can’t hold your bag until or after checkin.

screen shot of booking bag storage in London

30.

Share pics with your trip mates (and any loved ones who want to share in on the fun) with Google Photos for free. And then if you want to print photos out later…you already have some g2g.

photo prints the writer had printed from travels in Italy and Greece

31.

Research whether tipping is part of the culture. Depending on your destination, that’s how some people make a living or could be incredibly offensive. And it can also help determine how much cash you should exchange for local currency.

It varies by location and by the service!

32.

Don’t assume that everywhere has the frigid AC you enjoy at home.

It might be best to ~mentally~ and physically prepare for that. In some hotels, you might even have to pay extra for AC in your hotel room. Sometimes before going on a trip, I’ll try to sleep with the AC unit either off (depending on the local weather) or up by about 5 degrees for a week before my trip so it isn’t as much of a shock to the system. 

33.

And remember that the same temp can feel VERY different in two different locales. So pack accordingly!

writer on a double decker bus in London, same writer on a bench on a bridge in Paris

34.

And while we’re on the subject, make sure you wear an adequate amount of sunscreen because the sun’s rays may feel more intense in that locale. And buy sunscreen at the destination.

hand holding a can of sunscreen

40.

If you’re going on a beach vacation, try to only pack one or two cover-ups that also function as normal nonbeach outfits.


45.

But! Slip dresses will look incredibly chic and take up a minuscule amount of space in your suitcase.

writer in a black spaghetti strap slip dress

46.

Pack some under-eye masks for some pampering, depuffing…especially while you’re fighting jet lag. They take up VERY little space in your bag and will feel a little luxurious — even if your friend booked a lackluster 2-star hotel and you’re googling where to rebook your stay while you wear said masks.


47.

If you want to get the most magical pics, get to popular tourist sites at dawn to beat the crowds. THAT is how your favorite travel IG influencer got that pic of the Trevi Fountain without 50 other tourists in the shot.

sunrise along promenade in Venice Italy

48.

Don’t be afraid of public transportation! Depending on where you’re visiting, it can be much easier to navigate than anything you’ve tried at home.

screen grab of Google map directions

49.

But! Don’t show up at a public train station or bus stop completely unprepared. You will need to do a smidge of research before your trip.

hand holding public transit card for Nice France

50.

And while we’re on the subject of sketchy folks, an anti-theft backpack or crossbody purse will be your best bet in public.


51.

Planning on renting a car abroad? You might want to consider the smallest car your party can fit into to deal with smaller parking spaces and streets.

small street in Mallorca Spain

52.

When you’re checking out of your hotel, see if you can use some of your leftover local currency for your bill.

I got this tip from my colleague Tasia Bass! There’s always going to be a loss when you exchange foreign currency back into your local currency because you’re charged for the service. So at least with this route, you’ll put most of your leftovers to good use!

Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.




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