PUBLISHED ON 6/4/2014 BY GIANNI JACCOMA
As travelers, we need all the help we can get to keep the hands of fate from choking the hopes out of our vacations; most people work all year just for those measly two weeks away from sludge coffee, dad jokes, and endless TPS reports.
To that end, we’ve cherry-picked the best travel hacks from this Quora thread, and thrown in a few of our own for good measure. Here are 10 solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had when you traveled.
1. Bury your phone at the beach
You’re dying to splash about in the turquoise water before you, but you don’t have any friends and don’t want to leave your wallet and phone unattended.
Well, there’s no quick fix to you being a loser, but instead of kicking yourself for not investing in that Beach Vault when you had the chance, stick your phone (and any other valuables) in a ziplock bag, zip it up, and bury that sucker! Just remember to leave a marker showing where you buried it.
Or, y’know, don’t bring your phone to the beach in the first place.
2. Give flight attendants chocolate
Handing your flight attendant a bag of sweet treats might technically count as a bribe, but it doesn’t have the same stigma as slipping them cash. This little act of kindness can score you a bottle of vodka from the drinks cart, or a neck pillow, or even just some extra attention.
Well worth the dollar or two you’ll spend at the duty-free shop — just make sure it’s unopened. Nobody wants sloppy seconds.
3. Wind your headphone wires with a binder clip
You’re in a hurry to get through airport security, so you unplug your headphones, wrap them neatly around your fingers, and then proceed to jam them into your coat pocket. The next time you pull them out, you’ve got a mess of wires worthy of Labyrinth.
By wrapping your earbuds around the handles of the clip, you can sidestep the frustration of untangling. It also gives you the option of clipping them somewhere specific, like to your backpack strap. Sure, you can buy products that do similar work, but binder clips are way cheaper, and can be stolen from your office’s supply cabinet.
4. Request a “Fragile” sticker for your luggage
No, it’s not Italian for “kick me”.
Bags marked with this sticker are generally put on top of the rest of the pile, and end up being among the first to hit the baggage claim conveyor belt. That means you can get out of that human bingo game and to the taxi line a whole lot quicker.
You’ll probably have to sign a waiver, absolving the airline of any damage that your fragile items could potentially incur, but if you don’t actually HAVE any fragile items, you’ve got nothing to lose.
5. Store your money in a lip balm tube
Thieves target wallets, money clips, and other obvious valuables. They definitely WON’T be after your Chapstick, even if it’s a great way to keep your lips smooth. That makes it the perfect spot to stash emergency cash; it’s a tight fit, though, so you’ll wanna use large denominations to get the most bang for your buck (!!).
Obviously, the benefit of this is eliminated if thieves nab your entire bag, or if your thief has particularly parched lips. But it still gives you an extra barrier of protection that need only be applied once.
6. Use Hidden City Ticketing
This little trick sounds super mysterious, but it can save you hundreds on airfare. Here’s a hypothetical to show how it works: instead of buying a direct flight from NYC to D.C., you buy one to Raleigh, North Carolina, with a layover in D.C., and just get off there. Yes, you’ll have to fly one-way, and you won’t be able to check any luggage either, but you’ll end up saving a ton of money.
Just a word to the wise: Most airlines ban the practice and may assess you a fee for your return trip. Check out Delta’s policies, for instance.
Try out hidden city ticketing for yourself here.
7. Use beer to tell if a restaurant’s overpriced
When you first arrive at your desintation, check out how much a beer’ll set you back. Then, when you look at the menu of any restaurant you’re planning to dine at, you can use that initial beer price to gauge exactly how pricey the restaurant is.
Just make sure you’re using a common beer, and not some rare Trappist lambic.
8. Bring an empty water bottle
The TSA’ll make you toss your 50oz water bottle when you pass through security, and paying for a new bottle in the airport’ll set you back like $800 (approximate). Instead of pouring your money down the drain, pack an empty bottle and just fill ‘er up at the water fountain once you’re through the security checkpoint.
Sure, it won’t be the artisanal spring stuff you’re used to, you diva, but it’s better than taking out a mortgage just to quench your thirst. Plus, you can buy one of those fancy ones with a filter built in.
9. Use your smartphone without a connection
If you cross international borders, but don’t want to shell out $5 million/minute for data and voice, and don’t know how to get a local SIM card, then you effectively turn your phone into an expensive brick.
Well, it still has its uses, even without a WiFi connection. Save local maps for offline viewing (here’s how to do it), then put your phone on airplane mode; since the GPS is separate from your phone’s Internet connection, you’ll be navigating like Magellan (or DeSoto) in no time.
Plus, the battery’ll last longer if the phone’s not continually searching for a signal, and it can still connect to WiFi when available.
Now you just have to worry about someone stealing the damn thing.
10. Always wear a jacket to the airport
That guy who dumps a bunch of nickels, his belt, keys, shoes, phone, boarding pass and what looks like the bottom of his junk drawer into the security bin? He’s the worst.
Don’t be that guy.
Expedite the security process by wearing a jacket and stuffing the pockets with all your stuff, then place it in the bin with your shoes.
Once you’re through, just pop the jacket back on and you’re on the move, while all the amateurs behind you fumble to gather their accoutrements.