Airport Gate
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

21 Travel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know?

I  stumbled across an infographic which alleges to contain 21 travel hacks every traveler needs to know — and after reviewing them, there are actually some useful tips from which you might benefit.

Normally, I do not like to use the term hack; nor do I typically copy the work of someone else and post it in an article here at The Gate — but this article from which the infographic resides encourages sharing and it does offer some good advice; so who am I to deny that?

Although the information is purportedly related to traveling during the summer, I have found that many of the tips which have been imparted can apply at any time throughout the year.

21 Travel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know?

Here is the aforementioned infographic — along with my commentary immediately following it below.

21 travel hacks infographic

1. Be an Online Ninja

When it comes to purchasing airfares from anyone, just remember: caveat emptor, or buyer beware.

Clearing the history, cookies and cache of the browser which you use to access the Internet is a good idea— as long as you do not mind the inconvenience of not having certain functions automatically done for you to speed up your experience at Internet web sites which you use frequently. I do mind the inconvenience.

An easy solution for that is to simply use a different browser. For example, if you use Safari or Internet Explorer regularly and want to keep the history, cookies and cache intact, consider using Firefox to book your reservations for lodging or a flight.

According to this article written on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 by Liz Collin of television station WCCO Channel 4 — also known as CBS Minnesota — Delta Air Lines allegedly charged its SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members higher airfares than customers who do not have — or do not log into their — SkyMiles accounts at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines.

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines reportedly released the following statement…

“The differences of how information was presented between logged in and non-logged in customers has been resolved. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this caused while we worked to resolve the issue.”

…as well as the following statement…

“Under the airline’s ‘Best Fare Guarantee’ any customer who thinks they paid more can get the fare difference by calling the airline. That assumes passengers realize — and have proof — they were offered an incorrect fare.”

…but what if the customer does not have any proof of the discrepancy? Should the burden be on the customer who was unknowingly overcharged?

FlyerTalk members have been reporting on this airfare discrepancy for years — as far back as 2009 — with Award Goes from Low to Med as PM and Price of the same search increases if I log in. as two examples.

Could Delta Air Lines revert to this practice in the future after the media attention fades? Do other airlines practice similar tactics?

Here are some tips to prevent yourself from being overcharged for airfare:

  • As for me, I always use multiple tools to determine my airfare. Although it is in dire need of being updated, the tools may be found in the Mileage Run Tools, Part 2 discussion.
  • Also, know your airfares. On certain routes, I know the range of airfares very well and can spot a deal quickly. If you find what appears to be a great deal, ensure that there is no “fine print” in the terms and conditions of the sale that negates the deal.
  • Research the “Good Deals” in Economy Class – Excellent Fares between certain city pairs – 2012 discussion — or, if you prefer to travel more in style, Good Deal Premium Fares 2012. A new discussion is launched every year.
  • Ask! Ask! Ask! Post a discussion on FlyerTalk — if one does not already exist — in the pertinent forum about whether or not the airfare which you found is a good airfare and get feedback from fellow FlyerTalk members who are more than willing to assist.
  • If you decide to call the reservations center of the airline and do not get the answer you want, thank the reservations agent politely, hang up and call back. You would be surprised how often a different reservations agent will give you a preferable answer to your request.

2. Get the Entire Row

economy class seats Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

This is also known as the poor man’s first class — and although getting the entire row to yourself has been more and more difficult in recent years due to increased passenger load factors as well as airline and route consolidation, it is still possible, as I was fortunate enough to score one myself.

If you are traveling with a companion aboard an airplane which has a row with three seats, you can try to reserve the aisle and window seats for you and your companion and leave the undesirable middle seat empty in the hopes that no one will sit in it by the time of departure — but due to the same aforementioned factors, this also has steadily become increasingly difficult to secure.

3. Book at the Last Minute

There have been countless articles which advise when is the best time to book an airline ticket. My answer is that it depends. It could be at the last minute. It could be at least 21 days prior to the departure of the flight. It could be on a Tuesday. Or none of these factors might come into play in order to get the lowest price on airfare.

In other words, there is no best time — not by my experience. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

4. Get the Wi-Fi Password

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

More lodging companies — such as brands of the Hilton Worldwide portfolio — and hotel properties are offering Wi-Fi access to the Internet free of charge; and more and more airports are doing the same

…but this advice is still valid for flights. I have had friends who are frequent fliers generously give me codes to access the Internet while aboard the airplane that they did not need to use — and no, I did not ask them for those codes.

I have some good friends.

5. Take a Car Park — No, I Will Not Use That Term. Let Us Use Photograph Where You Parked Your Car Instead.

rental car oman
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Taking a photograph of where you parked your car is actually an excellent idea — but not necessarily a new one, as taking a photograph of the vehicle you are about to rent is one of the 13 tips I advised to prevent yourself from being scammed by a rental car company when renting a car.

Just ensure that you delete the photograph once you return to retrieve your vehicle, as the last thing you need is a few dozen photographs to confuse you of places where you parked your car…

6. Pack an Empty Bottle

Bottle of water
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I have been doing this for years; but not on a consistent basis. I usually hydrate myself as best as possible before I arrive at the airport security checkpoint; but I will carry an empty water bottle which I had already used with me.

If I do not need it after all, then I can simply properly dispose of it — in a recycling bin, of course…

…but as I wrote to conclude this article: “you just never know when they can come in handy.”

7. Pack Essential Items in the Bag You Carry Aboard the Airplane

I travel light enough that everything is in one manageable bag; so I never have to be concerned about heeding this advice; but if you do travel with more than one bag, absolutely keep items which are essential to you in the bag most accessible to you.

8. Roll Your Clothes

This is indeed good advice; and keep in mind that once the clothes have been used and will not be used again for the remainder of the trip, they are incredibly versatile: stuff them in shoes; wrap them around fragile and breakable items for extra protection; stuff them in those odd corners of space of your bag which would otherwise be unused.

If you still prefer to fold your clothes, this article contains a video on how to fold your shirt in seconds.

9. Keep Your Shirt Collar Neat

Placing your belt under your shirt collar is something of which I never thought. As long as the belt fits, this sounds like a good idea which I need to try one day…

…but when I am traveling with informal shirts where a neat collar is not necessary, I roll up my belt as compactly as possible and pack it in one of my shoes or around some spare wrapped plastic cups — advice which you might be able to use to gain space in your bag while simultaneously protecting some of the items in your bag.

10. Pack a Dryer Sheet

This is a good idea — but it is one I do not intend to use simply because I do not need it.

If you would like to try this idea but are sensitive to fragrances, perhaps take with you one or more used dryer sheets. They will still have a scent; but it will not be overpowering — and you save money by not using an unused dryer sheet for this purpose.

11. Fill Your Boots

This is really a recycling of tips number eight and nine in this article, in my opinion — but there is nothing wrong with repeating it.

12. Stop Bottles From Leaking

Putting cling film — also known as plastic wrap — over the top of the bottle before sealing it with its cap to prevent the contents from leaking out of the bottle is definitely a good idea worth considering; but putting it into a disposable plastic zippered bag is also a way of preventing fluids from spilling all over your clothes.

In fact, doing both will offer dual protection for the remainder of the items in your bag from having liquids spilled on them.

13. Use a Fragile Sticker

This is one idea which I doubt will be all that effective: placing a sticker proclaiming that at least one item in your luggage is fragile will supposedly ensure that your bag will be handled more carefully and that it will be placed on the top of the pile of baggage to avoid being squashed and the contents from being crushed — and perhaps your fragile luggage will be one of the first to appear on the baggage carousel in the airport at your final destination — but I wonder if anyone actually reads those stickers.

Fortunately, I rarely check baggage because I pack light whenever I travel — and I advise you travel light rather than use this piece of advice if it is at all possible.

14. Keep Cables in a Case Designed for Eyeglasses

If you happen to have a spare case designed for eyeglasses, this is another potentially useful tip which should work well. A soft case would be more flexible; but a hard case would offer more protection for its contents.

I keep my portable electronic devices either in my pants pockets or in a secure holster; while I place other items in a small pocket of my carry-on bag — or camera bag, if I am carrying one.

15. Refill Old Travel Sized Toiletries

This small bottle can fit two doses of mouthwash, as indicated by the black lines drawn on it. I realize that it will not win the award for most aesthetically pleasing bottle design of the year — but it works for me. I would tell you to ignore the expiration date on the bottle in the photograph; but that would probably only encourage you more to look at it anyway. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
This small bottle can fit two doses of mouthwash, as indicated by the black lines drawn on it. I realize that it will not win the award for most aesthetically pleasing bottle design of the year — but it works for me. I would tell you to ignore the expiration date on the bottle in the photograph; but that would probably only encourage you more to look at it anyway. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This is a topic which I already covered in at least one past article; and I still recommend it to this day.

16. Protect Your Razor With a Binder Clip

This is a potentially good idea; but I typically travel with at least one disposable razor from either an amenity kit aboard an airplane or from a hotel which supplies them free of charge for guests.

17. Make Your Luggage Unique

I do not check luggage; so I usually do not have this issue; but there are simple and inexpensive ways to ensure that your luggage suddenly becomes unique — even if tying a ribbon of a certain color to the handle of your bag or affixing a sticker on the side of your luggage as only two of many examples.

18. Keep Jewelry in a Pill Container

I do not have a pill container, as I take no medications whatsoever — nor do I own or wear jewelry — so this idea is of no use to me whatsoever; but it sounds like a good idea in keeping your jewelry organized.

Then again, even if I did wear and own jewelry, I would not take it with me whenever I traveled. If you absolutely do not need jewelry when traveling, you are better off leaving it at home — especially if it is valuable — so that you do not accidentally lose your jewelry or become a victim of theft.

19. Use the Hotel Television as a Charger

Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I have not tried this idea out for myself; so I cannot verify it. I do not see why it would not work, though.

20. Keep Your Money Safe

Dollar bills and coins for tip or gratuity
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

I would think that storing money in a sun cream bottle or empty lip balm container would be difficult to extract the money once you need it — and of course, if you are going to try out this idea, please be sure to clean out the inside of the bottle first.

In the meantime, I will forego this idea, as it is not one of the better ones in this article, in my opinion. I will keep my money in my front pants pocket where I know it always is at all times — especially now that the secret is out as to a new place to keep your money.

21. Get Rid of Foreign Change

I would not give money to a homeless person as suggested in the original article — the reason being that you have no idea how that money will be used.

If possible, donate that cash to the office of a reputable organization; or use it as a gratuity for someone who offered you exceptional service.

As for me, I collect foreign currency in as many denominations as possible as souvenirs; and I keep that flexible. I am usually pretty good at  estimating how much money I will need; so I never have too much of a surplus…

…and if I have any duplicates of any denomination of currency which I collect, they are usually in small amounts worth a negligible amount of money. I have been known to either use them for the next time I return to that country; or I might give them away to children as small gifts in my home country of the United States.


It is actually refreshing to see articles and infographics which actually contain some useful information like the one I highlighted in this article — unlike this article by Nick Wharton and this article by Andrew Medal, which serve to…

…you know — I really do not know what purpose inane articles such as those serve.

Anyway — as always — your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

All photographs ©2014, ©2015 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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