Forget travel tips… they will only get you so far. For the best help with your upcoming travel plans, you need to hear it from a travel blogger. Now I know I’m shooting myself in the foot here by revealing my 10 best travel secrets (not so secret anymore, hey?), but if they will ensure you get a better travel experience – then it’s something I will have to deal with.
So, here’s the big reveal:
The 10 Best Travel Secrets I shouldn’t share out loud…
1. Make a special meal request
If you make a special meal request prior to your flight, you will be served before everyone else. While I’m a vegetarian and have to make this request, you could also opt for something a little lighter – vegetarian or vegan – to enjoy a healthier meal on board (as opposed to the heavy carb meals often served). Other options include raw vegan if you’re feeling uber healthy, or perhaps even just gluten-free to ensure you get your meal first. This way you can get it over and done with and get a good nights rest or perhaps even just be able to finish your meal before the flight attendant is back to bang on your elbows and take your tray away.
2. Get the best seat on board
There’s a few serious tricks of the trade to be told here. First of all, seatguru.com is a good place to start. Here you will be able to enter the aircraft you are flying on and find out immediately where the best seats are in economy class – those with extra legroom, those that don’t recline, those to avoid, etc. Another handy tip (once you know the seat you want) is to take a risk and not pay extra for the extra legroom, but instead request those seats on check-in – as this is when those seats will be released without an additional charge. Just ask nicely and you shouldn’t have any troubles!
3. Get a free upgrade
Whether it’s for a an air ticket, hotel, or better seat at a performance – your best option is just to at least ask. While airlines are much harder, it is possible to upgrade on the aircraft by using your frequent flier miles. Hotels are much easier – just put on your charming smile and ask politely what view you have and can it be better? “Are there any last minute upgrades available to make my stay more enjoyable?” is a great line.
4. Know the cheapest days to fly
When searching for flights in a search engine like Skyscanner.com, there are a few things to consider to narrow down your request and get the cheapest fares. Flying on a Saturday and returning on a Tuesday will be a better option then going for the traditional Friday/Sunday or Monday combination. Return airfares are still cheaper in the States, but almost everywhere you can now get fares at very low prices for one way. Do your research!
5. Fly to Europe for less
Flying to Europe can be much cheaper with one simple trick. Instead of flying into London, look at flying into Dublin. Aer Lingus have exceptionally cheap airfares, while other airlines may fly into alternative European capitals for much less as well – Frankfurt is also a good choice.
6. Know where to find Free Wi-fi practically anywhere
Gone are the days where one must buy a coffee at Starbucks or a burger at McDonalds to get a little free wi-fi…. but if you do go down this route, you can actually walk in and use the wi-fi without making a purchase if you just look like you are waiting for someone. Regardless, free wi-fi is now in many more places for travelers. When you arrive at the airport you will almost always find free wi-fi – but it usually comes in the form of a free 30 minutes or 60 minutes connection. But don’t be fooled by the initial fees when you try to connect – scroll down the page and you will find the ‘connect for free’ timed option.
7. Avoid credit card fees
Nearly all credit cards have fees – except one. The 28 Degrees Mastercard has always been my best kept secret. Unfortunately since 2014 they have started charging for ATM transactions (much to my disappointment), but they still don’t charge overseas transactions when the card is used as a credit card (i.e. when you are not withdrawing cash).
8. Frequent Fliers – you NEED them
For a long time I avoided joining frequent fliers programs out of sheer laziness – but as it turns out, it is incredibly worthwhile. This is the most sure fire way of getting free upgrades as you accumulate points. But it’s not only flights that will reward you and increase your chances for an upgrade. Many programs also reward you for hotel bookings, car hire, and a range of other services. It’s all a little too time-consuming for my liking, but if you do just one thing, sign up and try stay loyal to one or two airlines when you travel.
9. Ditch the guidebook and avoid disappointment
Gone are the days of heavy guidebooks with outdated and unreliable advice. While I am unquestionably biased (as a full time travel blogger), it should go without saying that travel blogs are your best free source for up-to-date and relative to your interests information.
10. Attractions are often better from the outside (which is free)
It took me a long time to come to terms with this one, as you can sometimes feel you are missing out by not going inside an attraction – such as climbing the Eiffel Tower (which I would still recommend you do once in your lifetime), going inside the Colosseum, or paying for an iconic view like those offered from atop the Empire State Building. Pick and choose what you want to do most and be prepared to part with your time (waiting in lines) and money (paying to enter) for only those that you feel you really must see and do. For the rest, an outside view and quick happy snap is often just as good!