100 travel tips - save on hotels, travel, food, and entertainment

I have compiled a list of 100 of my best travel tips, covering all the major areas of travel including: organizing, planning, packing, transportation, lodging, dining, and entertainment. I have also included a section on budget travel for those of you looking to save! Following these tips will help you save money, while also enabling you to enjoy a fun and stress-free vacation!

Pre-Trip Organization

1. Stop your mail before leaving for a lengthy trip or have a neighbor or friend hold it for you. I have forgotten to do this on several occasions only to come home to an overflowing mailbox.

2. Make arrangements for your pets in advance. Whether having them stay with a friend, having someone come over to watch them, or booking a pet friendly hotel, be sure to make arrangements in advance. Red Roof Inn accept pets for free and is one of the nicer budget chain hotels. Kimpton is a great luxury brand which accepts pets for free.

3. Let other family members and/or friends know where you will be just in case of an emergency. It’s always a good idea to let others know where you are traveling in case something happens.

4. Do a double check before leaving to make sure that you have turned off all lights and unplugged all electronics. Also, turn down/off the heat or air conditioning.

Trip Planning Tips

5. Download travel apps before you leave. I like Trip Advisor and Urbanspoon. Both allow you to browse user reviews on local restaurants and attractions. Also check out this Travel and Leisure article detailing 22 great travel apps.

6. Plan an itinerary in advance; this will help to maximize your available vacation time.

7. Plan for equipment you will need for each of your activities. Also, if you are driving it will be cost effective to bring with exercise equipment such as bikes, ski gear, tennis rackets, and any other equipment which is costly to rent.

8. Buy a separate travel toothbrush and toothpaste. These items are often forgotten in the morning when rushing to leave the house on time. Also buy mini containers for shampoos, conditioners, and lotions.

9. Keep a checklist of things you will need for your trip about a week beforehand. Continue to add to this list until your trip. Get everything that you need together from this list at the same time. A handy Pack This notepad will keep you organized.

10. Sign up for Groupon in your destination city a few weeks beforehand. You can purchase any deals that you would be interested in using during your trip.

11. Bring with the right shoes for what you will be doing i.e. gym shoes for working out, boots for hiking, flip flops for the beach. Try to narrow down shoes to 2 or 3 pairs to conserve packing space.

12. Bring with a first aid kit, just in case.

13. Don’t plan too many activities. You want some time to relax or be spontaneous too! Too many activities can leave you feeling more overwhelmed than relaxed.

14. Check the expected 10 day weather forecast to help you plan your activities and clothing.

Packing Travel Tips

15. Pack fold down totes or shopping bags in case you purchase extra souvenirs on your trip. They won’t take up any room on the way there, but are available if you need to use them on the way home.

16. Pack mix and match outfits that can be worn on several occasions. This will help you condense space and avoid extra baggage charges.

17. Use space saver vacuum bags – you can get them at a Walmart or Target or on Amazon. Some kits feature a travel sized pump. I have personally used them and they really work! If you need to pack a lot of clothing for several people this really is the best option.

18. Always pack snacks for the hotel room so you don’t have to resort to unhealthy junk food from a vending machine.

19. Pack a case of bottled water. The water from the sink at the hotel just doesn’t taste right! You can a whole case for the price of 3 or 4 bottles from a vending machine.

20. Pack a few plastic bags in your suitcase to carry home dirty laundry – this way it won’t get mixed up with your clean clothing.

21. Purchase a hanging cosmetic organizer. These really come in handy for keeping your bathroom essentials organized on any trip.

22. Don’t forget to pack your phone and camera charger. Not having either of these 2 things will be a disaster! Also, don’t forget to charge your camera at night if you took a lot of pictures the day prior.

23. Pack cosmetics and lotions in separate ziploc bags away from your clothing; this helps prevent any spills.

24. Pack weather appropriate clothing and essentials i.e. sandals, sunblock, and swimsuits for a beach vacation and ski gear and equipment for a winter ski vacation. Also make sure to bring duplicates – i.e. 2 swimsuits so you have an alternate while one is drying.

25. Pack at least one fancy outfit in case you decide to participate in any activities which require a dress code.

Airline Travel Tips

Southwest Airlines

26. Use a bright luggage tag or tie a colored ribbon to your bag so you can easily spot your suitcase in the baggage claim area.

27. Consider buying random/unique colors of luggage that are easier to find – almost everyone has black luggage!

28. Chew gum to help reduce pressure in your ears. The action of chewing will help to pop the ears. You can also yawn or repeatedly swallow to get the same effect.

29. Southwest usually has all the best deals, plus you can bring 2 pieces of luggage for free. Check their website for frequent specials. Allegiant also offers cheaper flights, although their flight destinations are a bit more limited.

30. Wear comfortable clothing in the car or plane; you can always change when you get to your destination. I’d rather be comfortable for a long trip over putting on a fashion show. Workout clothes are great in this regard.

31. Bring with plenty of reading material to keep you occupied, especially during longer trips. Crossword puzzles and word search are also great to have on hand.

32. Apply for a passport in advance – it takes several weeks for processing.

33. Book a nonstop flight if possible to avoid extra delays, and therefore, wasted time!

34. Be prepared for airport security rules regarding what’s allowed in carry on baggage, such as no liquids over 3.4oz.

35. Check in online for your flight as soon as available to get the best seats.

Road Travel Tips

Scenic drive through Nevada

36. Pack your car the night before you leave so you can just get up and go.

37. Don’t forget to get your I-pass/EZ-pass ready in advance of your trip. Have all money ready for tolls in advance in a designated spot in your car so you aren’t fumbling around. Know in advance which areas have huge tolls – a recent trip from Massachusetts to Virginia cost me almost $80 in tolls!

38. Brew your own coffee at home and bring with a reusable mug so you don’t have to stop at Starbucks. A vacuum sealed mug will keep your drink warm-hot for hours, and thus, is perfect for a trip.

39. Don’t drink too much coffee or tea before or on the way! In my personal experience, this especially rings true when driving long hours through the desert with barely any rest stops!

40. If you have a really long drive, break it up into several hotel stays. Driving for too long of a time period really burns you out. I have learned this the hard way after too many a 20 hour drive! I would split up every 5-8 hours into a hotel stay.

41. Download the Gas Buddy travel app – you can look up the cheapest gas stations along your route. Also check out my best tips to save on gas expenses.

42. Organize music playlists for a long drive to prevent boredom. I recommend Sirius Radio as well; it is fun to switch up listening to different genres of music, news stations, and even comedy performances.

43. Bring a cooler with pre-made sandwiches and snacks for a road trip – this will save both time and money. Small insulated travel coolers work well for road trips. This will especially come in handy on long stretches where there are few dining options available.

44. Get out and stretch often at rest stops. This gives you the chance to give your legs a break before getting back on the road.

45. Make fun detour stops along the road to make your trip more spontaneous and memorable.

46. Bring sunglasses –  you will appreciate them during a long road trip when the sun is rising or setting right in your face!

47. Take off early in the morning but not too early! Many think leaving extra early will give them more time to enjoy the day. Leaving too early will accomplish the opposite effect: you will feel rundown and tired all day.

48. If traveling with pets, keep all essentials (food, dish bowls, leash) in an easy to reach spot in your car. Check out more great tips for traveling with pets.

49. Get a good night’s sleep the night before so you can wake up feeling energized and refreshed. Don’t forget to eat a small breakfast or snack before heading out!

50. If you need a car rental, compare deals online and book before your trip. Rates will be cheaper and you will avoid extra fuss at the airport.

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