Travelling a lot this year?
Whether it’s for a vacation or business, there’s definitely plenty to look forward to when you head overseas.
However, it’s undeniable that travel comes with some inconvenience and discomfort.
These could range from adjusting to jetlag to overcoming language barriers.
Before you cancel your travel plans, here are a couple of travel hacks to help you overcome and maximise your experience whenever you catch a flight out of our sunny island.
TL;DR: Travel Hacks For Frequent Travellers
Here’re some handy tips to make the most of your holiday
- Automate your packing
- Bring items to help you sleep on flights
- Get an overseas multicurrency card
- Recover quickly from jetlag
- Overcome language barriers
- Avoid taxi scams
- Accumulate miles and maximise cashback!
1) Automate Your Packing
Do you find yourself having to come up with a packing list each time you have an upcoming trip?
Forget to bring something but only realise it when you’re at your destination?
You can get rid of this problem by coming up with an essentials packing list, which states all the standard items you’ll need for a trip.
Such things could include:
- toiletries (neatly packed in a toiletry bag)
- medicine (for emergencies, or if you have allergies)
- your favourite travel clothes (for maximum comfort and style)
All you need to do is to whip this essentials packing list, follow the list, and add whatever else you might need for your trip!
This makes packing a breeze and you won’t ever be stuck in a foreign land with no clean underwear.
Personally, I like to store my list on my smartphone.
I can even mark checkboxes as I go so I know for sure that I’ve got everything I need.
2) Bring Items To Help You Sleep On Flights
It can be tough to get quality sleep on long-haul flights, especially if you’re flying Economy.
However, there are items which you can bring on board that can make your journey a little more bearable.
My favourites are:
Noise Cancellation Earphones
Quality noise cancellation earphones can block out aircraft noise and even drown out the sounds of chatty passengers or babies crying on the plane.
Silence is always appreciated whenever you’re trying to catch some shut-eye.
Are you all set to sleep, but can’t because the lights in the cabin are still switched on?
Just pull out your sleeping mask, and any source of light will be the least of your problem.
Particularly useful for sleepers who’re sensitive to their surroundings.
You may not be able to get your set to recline fully in Economy…
But travel pillows can make your sleep a little more comfortable by providing you ample support for your neck.
This way you can rest a little easier even if you’re seated upright.
3) Get An Overseas Multi-Currency Card
Tired of visiting the money changer every time you’re about to travel?
Why not get a multi-currency card instead?
This game-changer eliminates pesky conversion fees and gives you the ease of mind as you won’t have to physically carry a large sum of money.
If you’re a frequent traveller, plan to go on a long solo backpacking trip, or are planning to travel through slightly dangerous places…
Then you’ll find a multi-currency card a lifesaver.
What’s more, these cards are usually equipped with Mastercard and Visa payment capabilities which make payment and transactions seamless, worldwide.
4) Recover Quickly From Jet Lag
Crossing time zones can be really tough on your body.
So you might not feel 100 per cent when you touch down at your destination.
One of the best way to get about this is by adjusting to your destination’s time zone while you’re on the plane.
If it’s daytime at my destination, I’ll try to stay awake on the plane by watching movies or playing games.
And if it’s nighttime there, I’ll force myself to sleep instead – even if the in-flight movies are really good.
Another way to get around this, especially if it’s a destination with more than 12 hours difference, is I’ll reset my body clock with the help of coffee and melatonin.
The caffeine from coffee (or tea) will help me stay awake.
And if I have trouble sleeping, melatonin will help me sleep till I’m properly adjusted to the new time zone.
5) Overcome Language Barriers With The Help Of Translation Apps
Can’t read or speak the local language at your destination?
There are plenty of apps to help you with this.
My go-to translation app is Google Translate which has a nifty capability to translate text in pictures you take with your phone.
It’s not the most accurate, all the time, but it’ll at least help you understand what you can’t read.
This way, conversing with a local or interpreting menus in a foreign language is no longer a problem!
6) Avoid Taxi Scams By Using Ride-Sharing Apps
As a tourist in a foreign country, you’re a vulnerable target for scams.
One of the most scams involves local taxi drivers refusing to go via the metered rate and charging ridiculous fares instead.
Or worse, you get into a cab and find out at the end of your journey that the meter was rigged.
To get around this, use ride-sharing apps like Grab or Uber to get a standard, metered rate.
The added advantage of using such apps is that you don’t have to figure out how to explain your destination to your driver (in a foreign language) if you already have the address on hand.
All you have to do is either translate it beforehand, and just copy and paste the information when making your booking.
Most countries have some form of a local equivalent of Grab or Uber.
So do a little research before your travel, download the ride-sharing app, and get it set up before you reach your destination (if possible).
Pro-tip: don’t forget to make use of promo codes for first-time users!
7) Accumulate Miles, Points, Rewards For Hotel Loyalty Programmes, And Cashback
Frequent Flyer Programmes
If you find yourself flying on a particular airline regularly or with a certain major airline network like Star Alliance, OneWorld, SkyTeam and etc. every time you go on a business trip.
Make sure that you enrol yourself with their frequent flyer programme to accumulate your miles.
Once you have enough miles, you’ll attain certain statuses with the programme which gives you access to airport lounges, priority queues at immigration, and even priority tags for your baggage so you won’t have to wait forever at the carousel.
There are plenty of credit cards which can also give you miles through expenditure on shopping, petrol, groceries, and car rentals.
Best of all, some programmes allow you to redeem your miles for flights to your dream destination!
Hotel Loyalty Programmes
The same thing applies to hotels too.
If you find yourself staying at similar properties or a specific chain of hotels wherever you go, then you might want to apply for a hotel loyalty programme if they have one.
For example, if you’re staying at a Starwood Group Hotel.
This includes The Sheraton, Westin, Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, St. Regis and W properties.
You can take advantage of the “Make A Green Choice” programme to earn points or food and beverage credits for every night you choose to opt-out of housekeeping.
This also applies to websites which you book your rooms from.
Register an account and accumulate points which you can use to get discounts, enjoy travel perks like late check-outs, free airport shuttles and even free night stays if you’ve got enough points!
If you’re interested in maximising your miles and points accumulation, you’ll probably be interested in Seedly’s Miles Community which sees active discussion on all things related to getting more miles and points!
Maximise Your Cashback With ShopBack
ShopBack is a platform that allows you to earn up to 30% cashback every time you make an online purchase from stores like Lazada, Shopee, Foodpanda, Agoda, and more.
Your cashback might be double the usual – depending on what deals ShopBack has.
Want to book a flight on Emirates? Just click through ShopBack and get some cashback while you’re at it.
Want to book a hotel room on Agoda? Just click through ShopBack again, and get more cashback.
These small amounts will add up quickly.
And a mere 2% cashback can sometimes mean a substantial amount of savings, especially when you book big-ticket items like return flight tickets to Europe!
Maximising Your Overseas Spend By Using The Correct Credit Card
It may be a no-brainer to charge expenses to your credit card, especially if you’re in need of cash when you’re overseas.
But are you maximising what you can get out of your credit card?
If you intend to use your credit card for overseas shopping, why not consider getting one which rewards you for overseas spend?
Some cards offer cashback on your expenditure.
And some cards offer miles or points for every dollar spent overseas.
Some offer zero foreign currency conversion fees.
While some come with perks like complimentary airport lounge access and even free travel insurance.
Here’re some tips when using your credit card overseas:
- It’s usually better to pay in a foreign currency than in your home currency as you can avoid incurring a double charge of conversion fees (the banks will convert foreign currency to USD, then to SGD)
- If you want cash rebates, make sure that you’re spending on a credit card that rewards you with the highest rebate possible. Like wise, if you want a certain reward offered by a bank, such as shopping vouchers or discounts off your bill, it’ll make sense to charge your spending to that particular bank’s card instead.