You know the feeling, you love the feeling: there’s nothing like a good travel hack. It goes hand in hand with making the most of your destination. Read on to discover some super-smart hacks (and learn how to see the world like a seasoned pro).

Money-saving hacks

Couple shopping at an outdoor market, travel hacks
Take advantage of local produce (and lower prices) at a local market.

1. Shop at local stores (and get your snack on)

Eating out three times a day on vacation can add up. If you want to cut some costs, consider shopping at local grocery stores for a meal or two. In France? Grab a baguette, some local fromage, and a bottle of vin

You can always find plenty of healthy and simple meals to make with fresh food while traveling, no matter where you find yourself in the world. If you’d rather eat out in the evenings and avoid buying overpriced food during the daytime, preparing some snack bags before you head out is a perfect way to tide yourself over during the day. 

Tourists looking at the Statue of Liberty, travel hacks
Consider a city explorer pass to get discounts on entry to points of interest.

2. Buy city passes in advance

Sometimes it is a good idea to organize things in advance. If you plan on a multi-day stay in a city, it’s usually cheaper to invest in a city pass or to buy tickets in bulk. If you’re headed to New York City, for example, consider this explorer pass. It gets you reduced-admission prices to over 85 attractions in the Big Apple.

Woman using an ATM
Check with your bank before going on your trip to see if you can withdraw cash abroad at reduced rates.

3. Be smart about withdrawing money

Long gone are the days of prepaid traveler’s checks and panicked moments when you’ve lost or overspent your money before the trip is over. Skip the exchange counter at the airport in favor of local ATMs.

Pro tip: before you arrive at your destination, check if your bank has any agreements with international banks or has any services to help withdraw cash internationally at reduced rates. This is sometimes cheaper because you’ll only be paying a minor transaction fee and can avoid commissions and other charges. 

Tourist paying with card, travel hacks
Cash or card? Find out the best way to pay in your destination by doing a quick search online.

4. Check if you’ll need cash 

Consider which currency is the standard where you’re traveling. Going to London or Copenhagen? You’ll be fine with a card. If you’re headed to Berlin, cash is king. Most establishments in the German capital prefer cash or debit (or “EC”) cards. Regardless of where you’re headed, it helps to make sure you have some cash on hand in case of an emergency.

Want some more cost-conscious tips? See 8 more ways to save money on your next trip.

Packing hacks

Open suitcase
Think twice before packing non-essential items that’ll weigh you down.

1. Less is more

No, you don’t need 6 pairs of shoes for a week away (we promise). Whether you’re going to a cold climate or headed to soak up some rays, there are lots of clever ways to pack. Our tip: take a long, hard look at your suitcase. You’ll rarely need more than what you’d wear in a week or two (give or take extra underwear and socks). Try to bring items that can be combined with other pieces to make new outfits.

Woman pulling sweater over her head, travel hacks
Stay fresh with a little help from a dryer sheet between your folded clothing.

2. Stick a dryer sheet in your bag

Keep your clothes smelling laundry fresh with a few tumble dryer sheets. Tuck the sheets between layers of clothing so that no matter where you’re headed, each day can start with the scent of home. 

Luggage at baggage claim, travel hacks
Consider labeling your luggage “fragile” at check-in to ensure it’s handled more carefully.

3. Keep your luggage safe

We’ve all seen bags get manhandled at the airport. If you’re coming back from a trip with precious cargo, ask for a “fragile” sticker at the check-in counter. While this doesn’t guarantee accident-free transport, airport staff will be more likely to handle your baggage with care. Plus, the bags are likely to be placed on top of other luggage, meaning you’ll be one of the first to get your stuff.

Need more packing tips? Find out 5 more ways to pack like a professional tourist.

Planning hacks

See what your government says about traveling to your destination to make sure you’re prepared.

1. Check for local travel advisories

It’s always a good idea to check up on current events and see if there are any travel advisories for your destination of choice. Do your homework by checking the US State Department’s official site or check out the European Commission’s list of national websites for travel advisory per country. Whether it’s weather updates, local politics, or health advisories, it’s never a bad idea to see what’s going on in the place you’re going next. 

Woman making a phone call
Let your bank know you’re going out of the country so your card doesn’t get blocked.

2. Call your bank

Getting your credit card blocked is never a good feeling. It’s even worse when it happens on vacation. Avoid getting your credit card blocked while you’re traveling by informing your bank about your travel plans before you go. This means they won’t flag foreign transactions as suspicious, and you won’t get an unpleasant surprise when it comes time to pay the bill. 

We’d love to know if these tips help you — and hear if you have some of your own. Share your favorite travel hacks in the comments below. Hint: make sure you’re logged into Facebook to comment. For more tips and tricks on vacation planning, check out these 6 tips for having the best vacation ever.

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