Looking for ways to not overstuff your luggage, avoid data charges when traveling, prevent money theft, and access blocked websites in foreign countries?
Over the past few years of traveling both domestically and internationally, I've come across some travel hacks that are pretty useful!
Watch this in video format! I included two EXTRA hacks in the video. ;)
Or read on for some of the best travel tips so you can travel like a boss.
How to fit a ton of stuff in your carry-on bag
Space bags are gold
Guys. Space bags are insanely useful for when you need to get a ton of clothes in a small space.
They're those vacuum bags you saw on the awkward infomercials back in the day when you were home sick from school and awake at 3 am with nothing else to watch on TV.
Ziploc now owns Space Bags (or maybe they created their own? idk, tbh).
Space Bags are how I've traveled "carry-on only" for my last two international trips to Europe and China.
The only downside is that your clothes get pretty wrinkly.
However, if you're staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or are Couchsurfing then the hotel or hosts may have an iron for you to use.
Carry-on bag means carry-on sized liquids
When we travel we are tempted to literally bring our entire bathroom with us - all the lotions, creams, special shampoo, the blow dryer and other appliances.
Though when you're traveling you'll quickly realize how much of a pain it is to lug all that stuff around with you.
Also, if you're using nice stuff it's not like you'll want to simply throw it out or give it away when your bag is overweight.
Instead, bringing just what you need is key.
Get travel sized bottles for your liquids. You can get a mini version of what you currently use, or buy empty mini travel bottles and fill them before you leave.
If you run out then you can buy more from whichever city you're at.
Unless you have something you have to have with you, then it's no big deal to go to the local supermarket or wherever to stock up.
Avoid smelly luggage and clothes:
Keep a dryer sheet in your luggage
Love that freshly washed clothes scent you get when you take your clothes out of the dryer?
That scent is far better than the pungent odor that often becomes your suitcase while traveling.
...unfortunately unavoidable, when you have a combination of clean clothes but also a bag of dirty laundry and your shoes packed next to each other, your luggage is bound to smell - no matter how fresh and clean you are.
Stick a dryer sheet - the ones you use to prevent static cling when putting your clothes in the dryer - in your luggage to keep the scent springtime fresh.
I personally like to keep mine in the mesh zipper compartment to allow the scent to reach my entire bag.
use Febreze To-Go to keep your clothes smelling fresh
A friend introduced Febreze To-Go to me two years ago when we were working in Europe.
It. Is. Amazing.
Your dryer sheet may eventually lose its scent over time, so having a mini travel-sized bottle of Febreze is amazing.
Literally. Amazing. Trust me on this one.
You can get these on Amazon but I also found one at grocery store. (Surprisingly not Target, despite them having a whole giant aisle dedicated to fresh scent sprays...)
How to access blocked websites in foreign countries:
Download at least one VPN before you go
What is a VPN, you ask?
It stands for Virtual Private Network and you can download it as an app or extension for your internet browsers (laptop) or phone (app).
Some websites like Netflix or Hulu aren't yet available in some countries, where other countries may censor certain websites. When you're using the internet through a VPN, you have the option of changing the "location" to make it seem like you're in a different country.
So for example when I was in China and wanted to go on WordPress to write a blog post, I'd change my VPN "country" to the US - or honestly any other country haha - and I'd be able to access the site that would otherwise be blocked.
There are a bunch of free VPN options, too.
My favorite VPNs are Hola and SurfEasy (though the free SurfEasy plan runs out fast), and TunnelBear. I use VPNs both on my laptop and my iPhone.
(If you're going to China you'll want to especially get 2-3 VPNs before you go if you need to be using websites like Google, Gmail, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress, Facebook, etc. China unsurprisingly also blocks websites where you can download VPNs!)
Keep your money safe while traveling:
Split your money in different places
If your wallet gets lost or stolen, your safest bet is have already separated your money into different places.
I usually keep a day or two's worth of cash in my wallet and separate the rest of my cash into different compartments such as an inside pocket of my backpack or suitcase, my Kindle case, inside a magazine, etc. when in transit.
If your place of stay has a safe (hotel) or a locker (hostels) then definitely utilize them to keep your spare cash locked up. I also put my passport and any other valuables (such as my DSLR camera) in a locker or safe when I'm out and about.
Some people have also suggested if you're in an especially sketchy area, to get a cheap "dummy" wallet to put in your bag. Fill it with used gift cards to make it look like it's a regular wallet in case someone tries to pickpocket/steal it from you.
How to get wifi on your phone abroad:
Keep your phone on airplane mode
To not rack up any charges or pay anything to use your phone, keep your phone on airplane mode the entire time.
Yup - when the flight attendant asks you to turn on airplane mode on your way out, to the point where touch down on your flight back home and you're free to turn electronics on again.
This way you can access the internet when connected to wifi. Wifi is available in most parts of the world at hotels/hostels/homes as well as cafes, restaurants, public squares, etc.
This doesn't mean the connection is super fast though ;) that will depend on where you're going! Check out websites like nomadlist.com and TripAdvisor to get a better idea of how strong the wifi is in the region you're visiting.
Or get a SIM card
As long as your smartphone is unlocked, you can get a SIM card on arrival for your destination.
This usually will cost you about $10-20 or so. Packages and pricing will vary but that's typically what it would cost for 2-3 GB of data, calls and texts with an international number.
Communicating over wifi with apps (Whatsapp, Viber, iMessage) is so easy these days that you might even be okay with a SIM card that just provides data.
There you have it! These travel hacks have helped me so much in my travels across various continents.
Do you have more travel hacks you'd like to add? Leave your tips in the comments below!