Here's a list of 10 travel hacks that made my life that little bit easier whilst spending a summer abroad:
1. When packing roll your clothes – If you’re not doing this already you’re wasting valuable real estate in your suitcase. Roll and layer, never fold and stack.
2. Contact your service provider and upgrade your data plan - The last thing I wanted to do while travelling was to be on a never-ending hunt to find wi-fi or somewhere to top up my phone, so before I left I upgraded, this worked out to be significantly cheaper than the pay as you go alternative.
3. Download a tracking app - I downloaded Life360 and invited my family and closest friends to join my circle. This app tracks your movements in real time and you can zoom in right down to the Google Street View.
I downloaded this app so if for whatever reason I couldn't be contacted my loved ones back home would be able to know my exact location and check I was where my itinerary said I would be.
4. Pack a spare mobile phone – A few years back my sister went on holidays and two days into her trip someone stole her phone. She was devastated not only because her phone had been stolen, but because a large chunk of her activity money had to go towards replacing it so she’d have something half decent to take photos with.
Note: Before you leave do a backup of all your current photos to a portable device and when you’re on the road, upload your best images as you go, so that way if you do lose your phone or it does get stolen, it won’t hurt as much as losing all your best snapshots too.
5. Don’t forget to pack an international travel adapter and a power board to plug into it! Having extra power sockets really does make a world of difference especially if you’re staying in a hostel where there’s usually 1 outlet for 4+ people.
6. Invest in a good quality portable phone charger and a spare cord to take with you on your day trips – If you’re anything like me you will want to capture EVERYTHING! I have an Iphone X and found that on average each day I would need to charge my phone 3-4 times - extreme I know, but the last thing I wanted was to be caught out with a dead phone in a compromising situation because I’d used all my battery taking pictures and videos.
Note: If anything make sure you always pack a cord to charge your phone and remember that most TV’s have a USB port at the back, so in the event of an emergency find somewhere that has a TV and ask them nicely to let you plug in and charge!
7. Contact your bank and arrange a travel money card – On my trip there were a few people who were pick pocketed, had credit cards stolen, bank cards scammed, and cards sucked in by ATM machines - all incidents were extremely upsetting for the people it happened to because in most instances we were leaving the city the very next day and the money couldn’t be retrieved.
Before I left I called my bank and advised them of all the cities I was travelling to and the dates I would be in each city so they wouldn’t freeze any of my accounts. When I was overseas I had a system that worked quite well, I would only transfer the funds I thought I would need for next 2-3 days onto the travel card and kept my savings and credit card locked away in a secure place – I did this so if I was to be pick pocketed I kept very little cash on me and if in the very unlikely event I was forced to put the pin of the card into an ATM machine, the travel card would have had no more than 200 euro’s on it at any given time and thief would be none the wiser.
8. If you have wrinkly clothes and no iron you have a couple of options to fix this pretty common wardrobe malfunction. If you own a hair straightener that can be used to smooth out smaller areas, just be sure to turn the heat down to a lower setting so you don’t burn the fabric or, use a blow dryer - dampen the affected area and hold the pointed nozzle at the end of the dryer roughly 2 inches away from the fabric pointing the heat onto the troubled area; Voila! Problem solved.
9. Bring a pillowcase - I know most places you’re going will already have a pillow and pillow cases but surprisingly a spare can come in very, very handy, especially if you’ve had a long day, arrived at your hostel and been given a hard, uncomfortable bed and one very flat, old pillow to rest your head on.
On more than one occasion I found myself stuffing the pillow case I had packed with the softest items of clothing I had brought with me and I had a wonderful night sleep - who would have thought remembering something so simple would be my saving grace.
10. On the last day of your trip collect all your loose coins and give them to the homeless - why? Because you’re a nice person and those people probably need those coins more than you do.
One hack I WISH I would have thought of before I left was, Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) – Have you ever walked on a beach full of pointy, hard, hot rocks instead of soft sand? I have, and it really isn’t ideal. Have you ever walked into a river or lake where you can’t see the bottom and have no idea what you’re stepping on? I’ve done that too and it’s terrifying and can be dangerous. These shoes are cheap, won’t weigh your suitcase down and they’ll be you best friend if you’re planning on doing activities by or in the water.
I hope some of these travel hacks help make your life that little bit easier when you embark on your next overseas adventure!