Travel Smarter™: Tips for Better Vacations Wherever You Go
Travel can be the experience of a lifetime – good or bad. Everyone wants to focus on the good, and that’s the right attitude because it just takes a few simple hacks to travel smarter and make your vacations fun, exciting – and safe.
Here are some of our favorite travel hacks that can help you have better vacations, whenever and wherever you travel:
Top Tips to Travel Smarter™
Buy travel insurance
You’ll want to insure your trip for these and many other reasons:
- Travel insurance can help reimburse you for prepaid travel expenses if your trip is cancelled or interrupted due to a covered reason.
- Travel insurance can also help pay for medical expenses if you get sick or injured while traveling.
- Travel insurance can help reimburse you for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage.
- The travel assistance services that come with Generali travel insurance can help connect you with resources in a travel emergency.
See what the government has to say
The government has some amazing resources for those looking to travel smarter. Among them:
- Travel.state.gov, where you can:
- Find the security rating of your destination and discover detailed safety and security information;
- Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which can make it easier for you to get help from an embassy or consulate, and help the embassy or consulate find you in case of emergency;
- Get the latest Passport Information, and start the application/renewal process.
- The Centers for Disease Control, which provide Traveler's Health Advisories;
- The Federal Aviation Administration, which has information on flight delays and cancellations;
- The Transportation Security Administration, where you can learn about the latest security and screening guidelines and sign up for TSA PreCheck;
- The Department of Transportation, where you can find the latest road-closure information; and
- The National Weather Service, where you can get the latest weather warnings.
Get your bags in order
Traveling smarter isn’t just about safety, it’s also about efficiency.
- Pull together receipts for big-ticket items and stick them in a folder back home. You’ll need them in case your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen.
- Take a picture of the contents of your packed bags before you leave.
- Pack heavy items, like shoes and toiletry kits, along the suitcase's spine to balance weight at the bottom. Stuff socks, rolled-up belts and other small items into shoes to save space.
- Once your shoes are in, line the bottom of your suitcase with your trousers and let the legs hang over the outside edge of the suitcase, then pack the rest of your travel gear with the lighter stuff on top. Wrap trouser legs over the pile; they'll keep their crease.
- Turn jackets inside out and fold them in half with tissue paper or dry-cleaning bags. Layering plastic bags or tissue between clothes also helps prevent wrinkles.
- Except for the items listed above, don’t fold your clothes – roll them. End of debate.
- Use vacuum compression bags. If you don’t have compression bags, put clothes in a large Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out and seal it shut.
- Packing cubes work wonders, both for organizing what you’re packing and having it fit neatly in a suitcase.
Take care of your electronics
These days, a better vacation is hard to achieve if your electronics aren’t in full working order:
- Reading up on the power outlets at your destination before you leave.
- Questioning whether a hotel Wi-Fi network is secure – or even that it’s the hotel's network. Ask the hotel what network they have available before arbitrarily logging onto an unsecure network.
- Avoiding the USB chargers at airports. “Juice-jacking” is real.
- Buying a portable charging block and charge it. Don’t plug your phone into the device while it’s charging.
Be smart about transportation
- Renting cars and taking taxis with seat belts – and actually wearing the belts.
- Driving during the day, unless you have no other option.
- Understanding the rules of the road wherever you drive, including rules on the use of cellphones while driving. Check the International Road Travel site or our Tips for Safe Driving on Vacation in Europe article for further tips.
- Understanding the safety of the mass-transit system where you’re staying.
- Understanding your transportation options in case a car rental falls through or you miss your flight.
Don’t automatically assume your hotel is a safe haven
Take these additional steps to safeguard yourself and your belongings when staying in a hotel, vacation rental, or hostel:
- Make sure everyone at the lodging knows that they are not to give out your room number under any circumstances. (That goes for you, too).
- If someone knocks on your hotel door, don’t automatically open it. Ask who it is. If you didn’t request a repairman, don’t open the door for someone who purports to be one.
- Stay on floors two through five. Most fire-truck ladders can’t reach beyond the fifth floor, and first-floor rooms are more susceptible to break-ins.
- Always hide valuables or carry them with you – even if you’re only leaving your room for a minute.
- Don’t leave your bags unattended at the front desk – not even for a second.
Take extra care around water
- Don’t drink and swim.
- Ask someone you trust about currents, water quality, and beach safety at your destination.
- Don’t swim after dark.
- Thoroughly check out diving equipment and/or boat safety if renting either while traveling. Make sure any boat you ride on has appropriate lifesaving equipment.
- Learn basic CPR and first aid.
It doesn’t take a lot to travel smarter. Anyone can do it, on any trip. And if it makes for better travel, what are you waiting for?