Do you know the secret tip for taking out money like a local, even when you’re hundreds of thousands of miles away from home? What about uncovering WiFi passwords for networks across the globe? We got you covered. Read on for six DIY travel hacks and tips that will transform your travel experience and help you explore the bazaars of exotic new locales without sticking out like a sore thumb.
First up on this list of DIY travel hacks is how to stay connected on the go. Wi-Fi might be no problem when you’re logged in at your hotel or hostel, but what about when you’re traversing the streets of a new city? This is where FourSquare comes in. The app allows people to share reviews on everything from bars to gyms, and the “tips” section is full of helpful hints recommendations that include things like WiFi passwords. So if you’re out and about but suddenly need to send an urgent text or use the internet for some quick Google Translate help – no shame, we’ve all been there – simply hop onto FourSquare and take a look around.
Alternately, WiFi Map is another great option. The free internet connectivity tool is crowdsourced by real people and lets you instantly connect to networks around the world. According to its website, the app is used by 100 million people worldwide, so you know you’re in good company here.
Using Bank Cards
We all know that cash is king. This is especially true when venturing into foreign territory – but the next time you’re picking up cash for a European getaway, skip the airport’s currency exchange kiosks. You’ll just end up overpaying on service fees. Instead, check with your bank to make sure it has an international branch. If so, you can withdraw cash like a local at any ATM on the street. Because you’ll also need credit and debit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, some good options are the Charles Schwab debit card and the Sapphire Preferred credit card. The latter is especially excellent – with zero transaction fees, a $3,000 reimbursement for lost luggage, rental car insurance and 1:1 point transfer with popular hotel chains like Marriott and Hyatt.
Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight
We should also mention that you can throw off a thief by storing your valuables in a surprising place. They typically look for money clips, fanny packs or bulges in your pant pockets that show where you’re stashing your money. They won’t suspect … say, your tube of lip balm, for example.
Check For City Passes
If you’ve got your heart set on an urban hotspot, then opting for a city pass can help you save big bucks while hitting up major tourist destinations. Rome’s All-Access Pass gives you access to the city’s most venerated sites like the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum and many more.
The best part isn’t even that it’s all under $100 – but that you get to skip the lines. You can also find fantastic free activities by checking out city tourism websites. Often, these feature things like walking and biking tours, which are great ways to see a new place.
Do Your Reseach Before You Arrive
Next up on this list of DIY travel hacks is ensuring you know before you go. Every new place comes imbued with its own set of cultures and norms – so it’s best to do a little research before you go globetrotting. As an added bonus, understanding the little subtleties of culture will quickly differentiate you from other tourists. For example, knowing ahead of time that cities like Rome will include a small surcharge for sitting at a table will teach you to devour that pastry while standing up.
Regular water often costs extra, so be sure to specify that you’d like tap. And asking a local where they tend to eat on a daily basis will unlock a whole new world of restaurants that are both delicious AND wallet-friendly. Another tip: getting inventive with your queries can prompt more thoughtful responses. Try asking something like “what’s been your most memorable meal in the past six months,” and you might be surprised by the answer.
Block Out That Noise
Earpods are basically just body appendages at this point. And when was the last time you rode the subway and actually made eye contact with somebody? In today’s world, technology is just as much of a valuable travel aid as it is a distraction. And while travelling with friends and family is always a fun time, sometimes it’s the small, solo moments that can really make a vacation. So do yourself a favour and remember to unplug and enjoy. Watch a sunset without snapping a pic. Take a deep breath and savour the unique smell of the air. Find a way to remind yourself to take it all in. We think you’ll be glad that you did.
As a final note, we hope the above is helpful – but it’s not a catch-all for a seamless travel experience. And you don’t want that anyway! Focusing too hard on perfection makes you miss the point. The best travel memories derive from happenstance, like when you miss the train and have to catch a ride on the back of a motorcycle, making a new friend in the process. Learning to go with the flow is perhaps the most valuable travel lesson of all, so channel your inner spontaneity and lean into the unfamiliar. That’s what makes it so much fun.