Expert Travel Hacks
Easy ways to make your next trip your easiest (and most affordable).
The long days of exploring a new city, lazy afternoons by the pool, day drinking and eating gelato every night. What's not to like about traveling during the summertime? Of course, getting there and getting around is sometimes a different story. Thankfully, technology has made traveling a whole lot easier if you use it wisely. We've distilled a handful of helpful tricks to help you get to where you're going safely and quickly.
Book Your Plane Ticket Wisely
You've probably heard of SeatGuru before. Use it and save yourself from unfortunate surprises upon boarding. It shows you if a seat doesn't have a window, has a broken TV, won't recline or lacks overhead storage space. And if a lack of options forces you to book that dreaded middle seat, don't panic. Sign up with SeatAlert and you'll be notified if an aisle or window opens up. (They usually do, and you'll be able to snag the seat quickly.)
Never lose your stuff again. Don't waste time looking for misplaced items. Slip a Tile, that handy little Bluetooth tracker, in your suitcase, backpack or passport holder and breathe a whole lot easier because you'll be able to find them just by opening up the Tile app on your mobile device. What's more, you can also use your Tile to ping your phone if you can't find it because the only thing worse than losing your phone is losing your phone 15 minutes before checkout time.
If you're renting a car at your destination, check whether your own car insurance policy covers rentals (nearly all do) before purchasing additional coverage. If you don't have your own coverage, check to see if your credit card offers insurance protection. American Express, for example, offers worldwide coverage for as little as $19.95 for up to 42 days.
Use Maps (Without Using Data)
Want to navigate around a new city without incurring outrageous roaming fees? Map out your route before you leave using WiFi on Google Maps. You can download an area within Maps and as soon as you lose connectivity, it seamlessly switches over to the offline material. This works with turn-by-turn navigation, destination search and you can even see useful information about places (opening hours, ratings or contact info).
When looking to juice up your device at the airport, look for outlets near bathrooms and airline check-in desks (often used by cleaning crews). There are also USB plug-ins behind most TVs and monitors.
Breeze Through Security and Customs
As security lines continue to swell, consider investing in TSA PreCheck, which allows you to speed through checkpoints without removing your shoes, laptop, liquids or belt and jacket. (The service costs $85 for five years.) But if you travel internationally, you're better off signing up for Global Entry, which essentially lets you cut all immigration and customs lines, get TSA PreCheck every time and skip the paperwork when leaving or entering a country. (The service costs $100 for five years.) But there's also a free app, Mobile Passport, which lets American and most Canadian citizens skip the slowest part of the Customs process by using your phone to import passport details, snap a selfie and answer basic questions.