Many people have asked me about my favorite travel hacks. Here are five that I’ve been utilizing lately:
TSA PreCheck. I’m surprised more people haven’t taken the time to apply to TSA PreCheck. It costs $85 and is good for five years. You can enroll online here (takes about 20 minutes) and then you have to appear in person with proper identification (takes about 15-20 minutes). There are many non-airport locations, which means there’s a high likelihood you’ll be able to find a place that conducts onsite screening close to your home. In 2016, over 44% enrollees reported that TSA PreCheck significantly reduced their security wait. Anecdotally, many of my colleagues swear by it and one of my friends who frequently consults onsite across the country claims it has saved her an average of 45 minutes of waiting per trip she’s taken in 2017. Enrollment for the program is still down, which means it behooves travelers to enroll now and take advantage of the benefits.
Bundle Your Travel Costs. You’ve probably heard that credit cards with miles and benefits are all the rage right now. Have you considered using that card to pay for flights on a site like Expedia? Expedia will let you plug in your frequent flier number for whatever airline you choose while giving you access to deals if you bundle a flight and a hotel or a flight and a car rental. Therefore, you’ve gained points on your credit card through the purchase, miles for the airline, and probably received 10-20% off the cost by bundling. One other trick if you are using Expedia is that Expedia almost always generates a link after you purchase a flight to save on a hotel. So long as you click on that link within 30 days, you can save 10% or more on a hotel – even if it’s in a different location than the flight you previously booked. Sites like Expedia also reward loyalty, so you’ll accumulate more benefits the more frequently you use the site.
Invest in “Open Space” Luggage. While luggage with many compartments may seem attractive at the onset, it’s limiting. Not only does it take time to allocate items into the compartments, you might not be able to bring home purchases you make on your trip because they won’t fit. Although there is much debate about the most efficient way to pack, a suitcase with fewer compartments on the inside that has more open space will give you more flexibility and will be less time consuming to pack at the last minute.
Research specials for local transportation. During the holiday season, Uber and American Express ran this incredible special on the East Coast and other select airports where you got up to a $65 credit per ride for using an AmEx if your travel originated from the airport. Many tourists, for example, also don’t know that it is substantially cheaper to purchase a ticket for Metro North from a kiosk than on the train. A quick Google search can save you substantial money for local transportation costs – something a lot of people don’t figure into the initial cost of a trip.
Only Bring Items You Love. Similar to the advice I give about what clothes to keep in your closet, you should only travel with items that you love. Instead of hauling three pairs of so-so pants, find a pair of jeans or lightweight khakis that you love and bring those. This is an obvious space saver, but will also ensure you are confident while traveling. No one feels great about walking around in a pair of pants they feel are “just ok.” Apply the same rule to the rest of the clothes, cosmetics, and shoes. Do you need two pairs of sneakers? Probably not – pick your favorite. Bring travel packets of Tide so that you can wash a pair of pants or a shirt overnight in the shower of your hotel. This is going to ultimately save you time (less decision making each day about what to wear), space (lighter suitcase), and give you more flexibility to purchase items or put other items you need in your suitcase.