Expert travelers like frequent fliers and those who are working in an airline know that the dreaded middle seat, foreign transaction fees, and delays of flight can happen even on a perfectly planned vacation.

To help you travel better in 2018, I’ve compiled some of my travel hacks I learned this year. In this article, you’ll learn how to navigate airports masterfully, how to get hotel discounts, save money on trip cancellations and changes, and find yourself with more time and money upon your arrival.

For Booking Flights

  • Set up price alerts

If you know where you want to go, and you only have a month to book your flight, it may not be the best time to buy your ticket. Search on Google Flights or you can download booking flights mobile applications to compare prices and set an alert once the price is right.

  • Sign up for airline emails

Sign up for airlines newsletters so you can receive updates straight to your inbox regarding their flash sales, and promotions. Similarly, you can follow their social media pages to stay in the loop of their promotions and quick sales. Also, websites like Sky Scanner and Airfare Watch Dog are great for finding cheapest flights and top-notch flight prices. The flight-tracker alerts will notify you when prices drop.

  • Take advantage of free stopovers

Without paying twice as much for flights, free stopovers give you the chance to get two trips. There are airlines who offer some of the best stopover programs; one example is Air New Zealand. You can extend your layover in New Zealand for up to seven days without paying for an additional cost. And there are airlines that will pair you up with some of the best hostel providers like Nomads World to make sure you can travel like locals.

  • Get the perfect seat

It’s always best if you can sit on your desired seat especially for a long hour of flight. Seat Guru shows you the details of your airplane seat. You can make a change right away if you don’t like it. You can also find out whether you can use their power outlets, if you’ll be close to a bathroom, or if the seat can recline. The reviews from the users will give you a sense of what the experiences were like for them.

  • Use the 24-hour rule

Most airlines allow travelers to cancel their tickets without an additional charge if within 24 hours of booking.

For Packing

Keep instant oatmeal in your bag for an easy breakfast
I would recommend keeping your instant oatmeal in a Ziploc bag along with your preferred toppings such as brown sugar, nuts, and dried fruit. Prepare your instant oatmeal in a coffee cup and ask the flight attendant for hot water during meal service.

  • Try peppermint essential oil

It is also advisable to carry a small bottle of peppermint essential oil on flights. This oil is great for nausea, helps with odors from the flight, and freshen your breath. You can also make some few drops onto a napkin and sniff to clear sinuses.

  • Stay organized with collapsing laundry bags

Bring a collapsible laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes organized and separate from other items.
For the Airport

  • Freeze your water

Freeze your water before your flight so you can bring it to the airport. You can’t bring a bottle of water unless it’s frozen.

  • Easily access Wi-Fi

Some airlines don’t offer Wi-Fi on the flight, buy it before you board. You can save money and make a good decision on what should pay for the access to the internet or if you really need it at all.
You can also take advantage of this handy map where you can see information from airports around the world. This map was created by computer security engineer Anil Polat and by a travel blogger.

  • Ask for free in-flight items to keep the kids entertained

Traveling with the kids can be tough, but good thing is that airlines have tons of free games and activities for children. Lufthansa has freebies like coloring books and puzzles and ukuleles on Hawaiian Airlines.

  • Get a complimentary drink

Believe it or not, there are still some airlines who continue offering complimentary alcoholic beverages for economy passengers. Air Canada offers a selection of spirits on their international flights, while Etihad Airways offers spirits and wines.

  • Easily rebook a canceled or delayed flight

No one ever wants to deal with delayed or canceled flight. Good thing there is Freebird, offering travelers a quick and free travel protection options. You’ll be alerted if your flight is delayed or canceled. Freebird will give you options to book another available flight without the hassle of waiting in line again. You can just use your mobile to book another available flight.

For When You’re on the Road

  • Put your flight number down on your car rental booking

It’s an extra precaution to add your flight number when an issue with your flight arises. The car rental or travel agency will know if your flight is canceled, delayed or arriving late. I had an experience of delayed flight during my tour in the Philippines, fortunately, the travel agency where I booked my travel package and car rental tracked my flight number and they automatically made an adjustment on my booking details, it’s less hassle for me.

  • Find hotel discounts in real-time

There’s an app called Priceline which allows travelers to get real-time information on latest hotel deals and discounts. As you go along with your journey, your hotel options automatically updating also where you can make a booking with just a click.

For When You’ve Arrived

  • Use the right cards

When you travel outside your country, you need debit and credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and Charles Schwab debit card offers zero foreign transaction fees, rental car insurance and $3,000 reimbursement for lost luggage.

  • Avoid unnecessary expenses

Prior to your tour, you can do some research on the norms of your destinations. Countries don’t have the same way in what they do and don’t charge for. Water in restaurants or hotels is one good example. In Australia, a waiter will bring you a bottle of water that’ll cost you when the check comes.

  • Look into city passes

If you’re traveling to a major urban center, consider getting a city pass if you want to visit the popular tourist attractions which can save you money. For example, Paris’ Museum Pass, you can get a free entry into more than 60 popular monuments and museums in Paris. Firenze Card of Florence gives you access to all major museums in Italy.