Aching to spread your wings and fly into the great blue yonder? Excellent - just don’t forget your (figurative) parachute. These ingenious hacks will keep your next magic carpet ride from turning out to be a night on an old dirty rug next to, perhaps, a scrawny apple thief.
If you're traveling with cash on hand, be smart about where you store it. Don't keep it all in one obvious place like your wallet. Rather, keep small amounts in different bags or pockets in your luggage. Another great trick is to stick some emergency cash in your shoe, just in case.
The same goes for any other valuables you might be traveling with. Computer, phone, passport, and wallet should go in separate spots. That way, if you lose a bag or encounter a pickpocket, you won't lose everything in one fell swoop.
Use Possibly the Most Amazing Smartphone Travel Case Ever
Your smartphone is everything on your trip. It’s a phone, it’s a map, it’s the internet, it’s money… the list goes on.
The task of protecting that little rectangle in your pocket - and keeping it charged - is almost intimidating, but a great phone travel case can help you with this.
This one, called Adventure Port, is pretty incredible.
- It protects your phone
- It’s a phone charger
- It’s a cable holder
- It holds your passport
- It holds your credit cards
- It has RFID-blocking material so hackers can’t steal your card details
Also worth mentioning: get a waterproof phone cover (most phones and phone covers fit inside the Adventure Port case).
Print Everything Out
Worst case scenario, let's say you somehow lose the use of your phone and/or computer. Many travelers store their travel itineraries, plane tickets, and even credit cards electronically. But when all that data is gone, you're scrambling to get it back.
Printing out copies of your itinerary, hotel reservations, plane tickets, etc. might sound like a pain, but you'll be thankful if anything goes wrong while traveling. Make a list of everything you need, like phone numbers, and buy yourself an old fashioned paper map. It might take up a little extra room in your carry-on, but better to be safe than sorry.
Mark Your Luggage as Fragile
All the safety tips in the world can’t save your trip if your luggage is damaged, lost or stolen. Not only does marking your bags ‘fragile’ help ensure your luggage is handled correctly, it means the handlers will load them in last, making them some of the first bags released. This will not only save you time, but might prevent someone from snagging your bag.
Sleeping in Transit? Snuggle your Valuables.
This hack might sound overly simple, but if done right, it’s pretty foolproof.
During your travels, there may come a time when you find it necessary to doze off on a bus, train or boat. While this can be a great way to catch some Z’s and save up energy for the next adventure, it can also make you an easy target for pickpockets who specialize in sleeping passengers.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for petty thieves or even transport staff to make a profession out of stealing from the unconscious. With no doors to lock, cupboards to latch or safes to utilize, your best option is a simple one: snuggle your valuables.
That’s right - collect all your most important stuff in a small bag (think passport, money, electronics) and curl up around it. If you can’t curl, discreetly tuck it under your shirt next to your belly. As long as you put it somewhere that would require waking you to access, you’re good.
And if all this talk of foreign public transport is making your hands sweat, check out Lifehacker’s How to Survive Public Transit Abroad.
Use These Often-Overlooked Travel Insurance Hacks
Boring and possibly unnecessary as it may seem, travel insurance will save your bacon in those “you never know” moments. Pickpocketing happens, scooter crashes happen, and plans can change - so don’t skimp on the extra few hundred that could save you thousands.
Here are a few quick - but often overlooked - travel insurance tips:
- Looking for a provider? Check with your credit card provider or airline first.
- Keep records of your insurance policy close by.
- Take a screenshot of your insurer’s contact details in case of emergency.
Download Maps on Your Phone
Did you know you can download Google Maps ahead of time for specific destinations? Once downloaded, the map works offline which can come in handy if you don't have Wifi or a data plan while abroad. Once offline, the map works as it normally would, offering you directions to well known landmarks.
This comes in handy especially when you're taking different forms of transportation. These days, most modern countries have Uber drivers, and you can follow the route your driver is taking on your phone. But if you're in a taxi or unfamiliar car, have the route mapped out ahead of time. If your driver starts taking you in a different direction, or tries looping around to run the meter, you'll know right away what they're up to and can ask to be let out in a populated area.
Pro Tips for Hostels and Group Accommodation
Camping out in a hostel can be a way to save big when traveling. But with shared rooms and bathrooms, hostels can be less safe than regular hotels.
Bring a padlock - lockers and safes are useless without it! Use a combination lock so you can’t lose the key. No lockers? Consider leaving valuables at the front desk. No front desk? Use the snuggle method. Want to avoid all these precautions? Read reviews before booking.
Another trick is to make friends while you travel. Having friends abroad can give you a massive security boost. They can look out for your stuff, walk around with you late at night, tell you what not to do in your local area, etc. etc. Hostels are a great place to make friends… so avoid these surefire ways to accidentally turn travel buds into arch nemeses. Try this list of awesome and hilarious tips for hostel living.