Five ingenious travel hacks

Look after number one with these essential travel tips and tricks

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist

Whether you’re travelling on a budget or enjoying one of the UK’s best destinations, travel is meant to be fun. But travel disasters do happen, turning a dream trip into an expensive, exhausting nightmare. Sometimes you can’t prevent things turning sour, but there are lots of little things you can do to improve your chances of things going well. Here are some ingenious travel hacks to make your journey smoother and happier.

Get the best seat

If you’re travelling with a baby, booking a seat next to a bassinet, those cosy cradles affixed to the plane walls, might be the best decision you’ll make on your entire holiday. But those without babies might want to steer clear of the baby baskets if they don’t enjoy the sound of crying infants. Whether you want extra legroom, extra cabin crew attention or a quick exit at your destination (get the emergency exit seats, the seats at the back of the plane and the seats at the front respectively) you should pre-book your seats. Some people get super-nerdy about seat selection – on websites such as you can get customer reviews of specific seats on specific flights. Who knew people got so animated about seat 32D? 

Pack like a pro

Strict weight limits and pricey baggage fees have turned suitcase space into prime real estate – every square inch of your bag is a precious resource. Begin by rolling not folding – carefully rolled clothes take up less room than folded clothes and are less likely to get creased. Utilise the space inside spare shoes, bring an e-reader instead of books, and get some refillable 100ml bottles to maximise bottle space to the legal limit. True packing ninjas always carry lightweight luggage scales so you can fill your bags to the brim with souvenirs without getting stung at the airport.

Play your cards right

Your choice of credit or debit card could potentially save you hundreds of pounds on a holiday – some banks charge huge fees to use their cards overseas. Look for cards that don’t have foreign transaction fees or cash withdrawal fees, and when you use your card abroad watch out for a pesky little thing called dynamic currency conversion (DCC). When you’re offered the choice of paying in sterling abroad it means you’ll pay DCC fees, which can be as high as 10 percent. It’s best to pay in the currency of the country you’re in.

Get plenty of sleep

The easiest way to get more shut-eye on a flight is to splash out on a nicer seat. But all is not lost for economy-dwellers. First, try and get a window seat so there’s something to lean against. Wear comfortable clothing – sweatpants will help you feel relaxed, and loose clothing reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, pack an eye mask and earplugs, and turn off the personal video screen in front of you. If you have space, pack a proper pillow. The final top tip for dozing off is so controversial we’re almost scared to say it. Recline your seat. Just check with the person behind you first. You’ll feel too guilty to snooze if your sudden recline leaves a glass of red wine on a fellow passenger’s lap.

Mark your bags as fragile

While we’d never encourage you to bend the truth, we’d certainly suggest you broaden your definition of the word ‘fragile’. Fragile stickers on checked baggage aren’t only for valuable artworks and family heirlooms. If you’re carrying any items – including the suitcase itself –that might be damaged by overzealous baggage handlers chucking your possessions into the hold with a little too much vigour, you should slap a ‘Fragile’ sticker on your suitcase. It might just keep your things unbroken. 

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.