Hot off the Press
You’ve probably heard about racking up airline miles to pay for tickets or even signing up for credit cards to inherit 30,000 bonus miles, but you may not know how to keep your cooler cold without buying a single bag of ice. As travelers, we often find ourselves in situations where we need more than a discounted plane ticket; we need a better way to fend of mosquitoes — or even bears.
Check out these 15 travel hacks you haven’t tried yet — from brilliant camping tips to upgrading your hotel room and de-wrinkling your dress clothes when there’s just no time to waste.
1. Burning Sage Keeps Mosquitoes Away
It sounds too good to be true. Sage smells nice, you don’t have to spray it on your skin and it can prevent you from itching and scratching all vacation long. Whether you’re at a provincial park in Ontario or a palapa in southern Mexico, burning a bit of sage in your campfire or safely near your sleeping space can keep pesky mosquitoes at bay.
2. Keep Your Batteries in the Fridge
That mini-fridge in your hotel room can be used for more than racking up extra charges on your bill before you leave. Store your nickel-metal-hydride (that’s the technical name for the rechargeable Duracell or Energizer batteries you buy at the store) in the fridge when you’re not using them, and they’ll retain roughly 90 percent of their charge. That’s more hours of music, more photos and more money in your pocket.
Alkaline batteries kept in the fridge will only last 5 percent longer than normal, but they’ll lose their charge much more quickly in the heat, so keep them in a cold place too.
3. Buy and Sell — Don’t Rent
Renting items like a bicycle, surfboard or even a vehicle on a long trip can end up costing far more than what you’d pay for your very own used version. Buy a used surfboard (or any other item you’d rent) on Craigslist or at a shop when you arrive at your destination and sell it back before you leave. Often times, you can sell the item for close to the amount you paid, and you’ll never have to worry about costly damage fees again.
4. Freeze Gallon Jugs of Water for the Cooler
Buying ice can be costly, tedious and messy. Fill gallon jugs with purified water and freeze them overnight. Toss them in your cooler for the beach, and you’ve got a mess-free ice substitute that you can safely drink for hydration when needed.
5. Drink From Coconuts
Feeling a little under the weather? There’s a reason the coconut palm is often regarded as the “Tree of Life.” Coconut water boosts hydration and helps replace the electrolytes you lost due to illness (or a long night out on the town). Crack open a few coconuts, and you’ll be back out exploring in no time.
6. Make Your Own Travel Coffee Bags
Sick of resorting to Nescafe for your morning fix in faraway places? Good thing you brought your own. When you pack your luggage, include a number of these travel coffee bags, and you’ll enjoy a gourmet cup of coffee when the hotel or country you’re visiting just doesn’t deliver.
Pour one scoop of coffee grounds into a coffee filter and tie it off with a piece of string or dental floss. Drop the coffee bag you created into a cup of hot water, and you’ll never have to go without a gourmet cup of joe in the morning again.
7. Steam Your Clothes in the Bathroom
Got a hot date or an important meeting, but it’s been a while since you brushed up on your ironing skills? Instead of learning a new trade when you’re already running late, hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The steam will ease the wrinkles in your clothes, and you’ll accomplish two tasks at once — now that’s travel hacking.
8. Bring a Water Bottle
Travel hacking often means saving a few bucks here and there, so you can spend them on things you want to see, do, eat or buy on your trip. Bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport and fill it up in the drinking fountain once you’re through security. A simple bottle of Dasani in the airport can cost you nearly $3, which could be the equivalent of a delicious dinner made by a street vendor at your final destination.
9. Brown Bag It
You can’t take bottle drinks through security, but you can take food. Pack or buy a meal to go before you get to the airport, and you’ll not only eat a tastier lunch or dinner — you’ll save a chunk of money too. Food inside the airport is expensive, and meals on the plane often taste inedible. Do yourself a favor and pack a delicious, healthy meal for the airport before you even leave the house.
10. Ask for an Upgrade at Your Hotel
Catch one of the supervisors at the desk, and you’re likely to get an upgrade just for asking. In Nov. 2013, Consumer Reports stated that if you ask for an upgrade, there’s a 78 percent chance you’ll either get a more spacious room or a discount on your nightly rate. While you may not be able to upgrade from a single king bed to a jacuzzi suite, you may easily score a room with a better view.
11. Make Your Own Cup Holder
Most rental cars come without a lot of the standard features you take for granted in your full-time vehicle at home. When you end up with a budget rental car and notice two cupholders just won’t suffice for your entire family, turn an old six-pack container into a spare drink and snack holder. Stuff water bottles, soda cans, granola bars and napkins into the separate sections and alleviate some of the stress of keeping the vehicle clean.
12. Wrap Your Water Bottle in Duct Tape
Remember that water bottle you’re supposed to bring to save money in the airport? Wrap a few lengths of duct tape around it for emergency use later. Duct tape can repair holes in your suitcase and mend broken travel gear, so you can worry about having fun instead of fixing your belongings or incurring unexpected travel costs.
13. Make Your Own Travel Soap
When you’ve got a favorite soap you use on a daily basis, resorting to cheap hotel soaps can leave your skin dry and irritated. Use a vegetable peeler to shave off pieces of your favorite soap for single use portions. On a three-day trip, grab a few peelings and toss them in your carry-on.
14. Bring a Pen
It may be the simplest travel hack in the book, but you’ll be thankful you brought a pen when it comes time to fill out a customs form on the airplane. Flight attendants never have enough pens (if any), and while you’ll probably have to share with your neighbor when you’re done, you’ll be resting easy while everyone is else is scribbling down their imports upon landing.
15. Pack Plenty of Fabric Softener Sheets
Fabric softener sheets can certainly fight off the musty suitcase smell, and they can even save your food from pesky outdoor thieves too. Animals (including bears) are irritated by the smell of fabric softener sheets, so spread them around your tent, throughout your bag, in your vehicle and anywhere else you don’t want intruders.