This is a sponsored post.
Between the long flights, unavoidable jet lag, and battery drain issues on laptops, pads, and phones, traveling can be such an uncomfortable activity!
I would know – it takes me about 2 days of non-stop flying to get back home (4 flights, 5 airports). By the time I arrive home, I am a zombie in need of lying down in bed and taking a week to recover.
Alas, the fact that I spend so many hours stuck in airports and entering a non-stop parade of flights have made me (unintentionally) become an expert in smart traveling.
Now, I’m all about the comfort… how can I make my travel more comfortable, reliable, budget-savvy and less confusing?
Well, here is my personal list of smart travel ideas to make trips easy all over.
Hopefully, you will find some handy tips to help you become travel savvy, too!
Hello Handy Gadgets
If there’s a problem, someone will come up with a solution. That’s how I see travel gadgets – other suffering travelers experienced the same issues, realized that they can SOLVE the problem and voila! Gadget created and problem solved. 🙂
As you know, we love to share practical ideas that can make travel so much more comfortable. When we took a peek at IHG Business Advantage’s curated list of handy business travel gadgets, we loved every single one – from start to finish. Talk about making travel easier for anyone, regardless of whether it’s for business or leisure. There was no way we could leave these un-shared for our readers.
So we featured them all below with explanations and how to acquire them. Just click on the images to find out more.
These can be game-changers for frequent travelers!
We all know that fear… waiting for our piece of luggage to pop out on the baggage carousel. It’s always a game of hope: either it made its way with you or it’s been lost somewhere around the world.
This luggage tracker device is the perfect solution to calm those nerves. Using this cool gadget, you will always know where your luggage is. The tracker is placed in your checked baggage and on arrival, it sends a notification about its location. You can even help the airline find your baggage in case it gets lost!
Not all airplanes have a handy USB plug by every seat. In reality, only few offer the luxury, since they can only be found on newer airplane models. Unfortunately, that means that your cell phone’s battery is going to drain and there is nothing you can do it.
Until now! This charger will stick to the window and convert the sunlight to electricity. Just make sure to get the window seat so you don’t disturb your neighbor!
There are many travel pillows out there, but most of them cause neck-ache or back-ache. Many are not helpful when your head moves to a side or forward, waking you up abruptly and disturbing a potentially peaceful rest.
Well, this award-winning travel pillow tackles these issues. Instead of the regular “U” shape, it comes in an “J” shape that provides support for the head and chin at the same time. Best for sleeping against the window!
Some hotels (and especially hostels) offer only 1-2 sockets in the room, which is frustrating in today’s day and age of electronics. I personally need to charge my cell phone, tablet, kindle and laptop, and I don’t want to take turns between them.
That’s what makes this charger great: it allows you to charge multiple devices with maximum speed. Just plug it in and connect your many gadgets.
If you’re going on a business trip, or to a fancy event, you need this with you. No matter how well you pack your luggage, clothes will always come out wrinkly. Portable garment streamer to the rescue!
Typing on a tablet is extremely frustrating. This handy mini keyboard makes it all the easier!
It connects to the tablet through Bluetooth, it’s very lightweight and it rolls up so it’s easy to carry.
Noise at airports and even in the airplane (the eternal crying baby or obnoxiously, loud people) can be difficult to handle, especially when already at brinks of exhaustion. These noise cancelling headphones will keep all audio disruptions away so you can enjoy peace & quiet.
You can either listen to music or enjoy complete silence. All traffic noise is cancelled out!
Jetlags are awful, especially when you are flying half a world away. Some vacations or travels are short and can’t afford the lost time and energy caused by jetlag. In order to prevent it, you can use a handy lightbox.
With light therapy, you can help your body transition through the time difference by “tricking” it with additional exposure to light. That way, you can adapt your body to the local time at your location of arrival.
More Apps, Fewer Problems
The most amazing thing about living in this era is our access to information. When getting lost in Buenos Aires (a massive city with an overly complicated public transportation system) left me frustrated and exhausted, I had only one salvation: my smartphone. With the help of my apps, I managed to make it back to my hostel (phew) but it was all thanks to those wonderful programmers.
That is why today, you should not travel anywhere without a smartphone on hand and apps to help guide you the whole way through.
From automatic translators to map guidance and currency conversion, a few clicks on the app store and you are ready and set for a much easier travel experience.
Here are the ones I love and swear by, and they have each made my traveling just a bit easier:
When I was lost in Buenos Aires, I didn’t have a data plan or internet connection. What I did have is an offline map of Buenos Aires on my mobile to guide my way.
When you’re abroad, you will quickly notice how difficult getting around can be without a handy data connection and Waze/Google Maps guiding you through with GPS directions.
That’s why your best bet is to prepare for those internet-less situations. Enter Maps.me, a totally offline map app for all countries and all cities. Life saver!
If you’re like me, you take a lot of photos and videos on your phone during your trip. But my cell phone has so much memory, and it quickly fills up as I shoot hundreds of pictures.
The solution is easy and free: use the Drop Box app! Your pictures and videos can be saved on the cloud, which means that your cell phone can be free of the memory hogging. The files are protected under a secure server, plus they are accessible whenever you want to reach them.
It’s also a great place to store important files like tickets, documents or anything that you need at easy reach through mobile.
English may be today’s “lingua franca” but we can’t depend on the assumption that everyone worldwide speaks the language. Most people do not speak English at all and they usually understand only their local language.
The solution is easy: use a translation app that will help you communicate with others! It’s very helpful
For getting directions or help.
You can use the handy and FREE Google Translate which has an offline feature. Just speak unto your phone and the words are translated with audio to whichever language you want. You can also use your camera for instant text translation.. Easy peasy!
When you have tons of layovers and time to kill at the airport, wouldn’t it be handy to have an app to guide you through the area?
With GateGuru you can get tons of tips for airports all across the world, straight from other unfortunate souls who had to spend a few hours of their lifetime there.
The app will give you information on the best food in the airport, where to find electric plugs or wifi, the location of gates and flights, and more.
What I love about walking around in a new region is discovering spots, attractions or restaurants by complete coincidence. Some of the best memories from my travels are these randomly discovered locations – they always beat the run-of-the-mill organized tour!
Field Trip (by Google) is a fun app that looks for sites of interest around you, as you move. It basis itself on categories you select and on your location, and will pop a message on your mobile when you are close to something interesting.
It can help you discover cool, hidden, unique things – even in your own local area!
Discounts? Yes, Please!
Why spend more money on your travels than necessary? Be budget-savvy and you can always find ways to save money on all aspects of travel: hotels, transportation, food, flights, souvenirs – you name it, it can be found cheaper.
As frequent readers know, because I’m such a fan of finding better deals, I often blog at All the Frugal Ladies, where I can share my frugality knowledge with pride. At this point, I know a thing or two about saving money during my travels – actually, it’s become a fun personal challenge.
These are my very top sites and apps that have helped me save hundreds on my last trip. Click on each to learn more about how I did it and how it can help you save, too!
The IHG Business Advantage membership is a great option for business travelers who are constantly flying to the UK, but it’s potentially a good fit for non-business needs, as well. It can be used on over 300 hotels in the UK, including big-brand names like Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and InterContinental.
By signing up, a member can benefit from free credit on stays, hotel discounts of 4% and traveler rewards. The best part? There are no charges – signing up is absolutely free. Just like that, you save 4% with each booking!
The app itself is for both members and non-members of the Business Advantage. Since IHG is connected to the biggest hotel brands out there, their app guarantees the best rates in the market for booking at those hotels (or your first night is free – according to the description in the app store). Not a bad place to start your search for good deals!
This is a tip I always provide for saving money on restaurants, even when you are going abroad. I tried it when I went to Paris and the two restaurants we bought Groupons for where the absolute best restaurants we experienced throughout the whole trip.
First you need to go on Google and look for the specific country’s Groupon (many countries have Groupon, and almost all countries have at least a similar-style site). A search like “Groupon France” did the trick for me – it also brought up their competitors’ sites.
It’s hard to make your way through a foreign country’s Groupon but using Google Translate helps, as well as taking a look at a map of the city.
You do need to take into account limitations, such as days and hours that a restaurant will accept a coupon. You may also need to call in advance to book a table (I did what I could with my menial French and it was good enough)
Here’s another app that I absolutely love, especially for road trips. Gas Buddy will show you prices of gas in your area and help you compare to find the cheapest gas around. If you tap on a gas station, it will pull up driving directions on Google Maps.
Prices are reported by users who can win prizes by doing so, so they are usually very up-to-date but it does depend on the region.
Either way, it has the potential to save you hundreds in gas, so it’s a must for a long road trip!
Whenever I’m buying airline tickets, I first scour the web to find different deals. It’s always surprising to see the difference in pricing depending on which site I am looking at. Personally, I like Expedia where I often find the lowest price, and comparison sites, which provide a fast comparison search between numerous sales sites.
There are always new apps and sites popping into the market promising even better flight deals, so I try to stay up-to-date on those as well. Hopper seems to be gaining in popularity – it’s an app that predicts the optimal time to purchase a flight ticket by analyzing billions of airfares and evaluating when prices are lowest.
Another interesting site is Options Away, which allows you to lock in an airfare 2 days to 3 weeks before making a purchase. If the airfare is lower by the date of purchase, you pay the lower price. If it goes up in price, you pay whatever you locked in.
I love last-minute sites because they offer great deals at very low prices for the sake of making the sale. I include sites like Priceline here, where you can bid on a hotel room last-minute and get it for far less than the hotel usually charges. The way I see it, it’s based on the idea that an empty hotel room is a loss of profit, whereas a filled hotel room, even at a lower rate, can at least help break even.
Each country has their own last-minute sites, so I can’t offer any other particular suggestions here. However, a quick Google search can help you find last-minute sites for all types of trips, from cruises to flights and hotel/hostel rooms.
We want to hear YOUR smart travel advice! Give us your tips below, or let us know what you thought of ours!
Thanks to Freepik for the original version of featured image.