Practical Travel Tips and Advice

  1. Pack less
    Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal. Do you really need six pairs of heels, tea bags, and an iron? Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around). More: 7 best hand-luggage bags
    Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
  1. Leave the guidebook at home
    Rather than taking your entire copy of the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet, just photocopy the pages you need, then discard after you have used them. Saves space and weight.
    James Teideman, Skyscanner Marketing Communications Executive
  1. Never join the security queue with kids in
    Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker.
    Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer
  1. Never wear flip flops (on a plane)
    I used to work for an airline and we were told never to wear sandals on board an aircraft. In the unlikely event of an emergency, it’s best to have a good set of sturdy shoes that will protect your feet from heat or sharp objects.
    Matthew Smith, Skyscanner Content Partnership Executive
  1. Jiggle it (just a little bit)
    If you’re petrified of turbulence during flights, try slightly jiggling your body when you hit some rough air. No one will notice because everyone is being moved around due to the aircraft movement. Sounds a little crazy but your movement will counteract that of the aircraft and you won’t feel the turbulence so much. It really does work!
    Jamie Wortley, Skyscanner PR Consultant
  1. Choose your seat-mate carefully
    If you get the choice of plane seat, always sit far away from: babies, groups of friends who will chat, or women (men tend to need the toilet less often than ladies). More: REVEALED: the perfect plane seat
    Miss Evodie Fleury, Skyscanner Market Development Assistant, France
  1. Learn a little lingo
    Memorise a handful of words of the local language, and have the courage to use them! It’s amazing how just a few words will go a long way; locals tend to warm to those who have made the effort to communicate with them in their own tongue. More: 7 secrets of learning a language fast
    Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director
  1. Keep your mouth shut
    If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower.
    Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
  1. Hotels are not the only fruit
    Staying in a hotel when you’re on holiday is not the only option. Or in a hostel for that matter. Apartments or rooms in private homes are where the savvy travellers rest their heads these days.
    Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
  1. Ditch your friends
    Travelling all by your lonesome might seem daunting at first, but it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself in the travel experience. I’ve met friends for life, learnt a new language, and had amazing experiences by travelling solo. More: 10 tips for travelling solo
    Victoria Bailie, Skyscanner PR Manager
  1. Always travel in a hoodie
    They may have become the uniform of unruly ASBO-teenagers, but hooded tops make excellent travel garments. Just slip up your hood to retreat from the world of noise and light when you want to sleep on a flight/airport seat/bus.
    Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
  1. Choose the Asian-vegetarian option on the plane
    You get fed before anyone else, you avoid anything too greasy and stodgy (helps the jetlag allegedly) and I’m convinced the more niche meals are much better quality as they’re made in smaller batches.
    Victoria Baillie, Skyscanner PR Manager
  1. Bring ear plugs
    If silence is golden, then ear plugs are worth their weight in platinum. Being able to sleep in a noisy plane or hotel room is a very valuable skill, not to be underestimated whilst travelling.
    Laura Wilson, Skyscanner Search Marketing Manager
  1. Pre-book an airport lounge
    If you’re flying long-haul, pre-book yourself into an airport lounge. There’s an up-front fee, but it provides a quiet environment with complimentary drinks, food, magazines, newspapers, WiFi etc. When you leave the lounge, take a few big bottles of water. It’s a cost effective and relaxing way to start your journey.
    Philippa Waygood, Skyscanner Training Co-ordinator
  1. Bring an internet ready device
    If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs
    Eileen Ogg, Skyscanner Artworker
  1. Bring an extra top on board
    When flying (especially long haul) always travel with an extra top as the blankets they provide are thin and the plane can get very cold.
    Clare McMonagle, Skyscanner Graphic Designer
  1. Always bring a sarong
    They’re light and multifunctional: something to lie on at the beach, a cover for when you’re cold, a towel, a curtain, a skirt, a dress, even an emergency bandage.
    Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
  1. Bring a DVD player for the kids
    When flying with small children, bring a laptop/DVD player/tablet. Cartoons and movies while away a sizeable chunk of the flight and allow parents some downtime too. More: 10 tips for flying with kids
    Mary Porter, Skyscanner PR Manager
  1. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones~
    For the perfect long-haul trip, invest in some good quality noise cancelling headphones. The price tags are hefty, but they are worth every penny to tune out the crying baby, snoring man, or chattering teenagers.
    Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director
    Listen to our ‘How to Make Flying Fun’ podcast:
  1. Kindles are made for travel
    I never travel without my Kindle. No more lugging multiple books around whilst waiting to exchange them with other travellers. This may have been a ‘charming’ part of travelling, but not when every book exchange turns up nothing but books in German! More: Will Kindle kill the paperback? Pros and cons of e-readers
    Eileen Ogg, Skyscanner Artworker
  1. Look before you leave
    Whenever you get up to leave somewhere, be it a chair at the airport, a café, or a bar, always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind.
    Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
  1. Roll your clothes when packing
    Once you roll, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to fold. More: How to travel with hand-luggage only
    Louise McCloy, Skyscanner Search Marketing Executive
  1. Use body language
    When there’s a language barrier, shouting in your own language is not going to get you far. Instead, use your body. It’s the most international language in the entire world. Don’t forget to translate a full stop with a smile.
    Tika Larasati, Skyscanner Market Development Manager, Indonesia
  1. Bring a money belt AND a wallet
    There’s a dual purpose to this: if you get mugged you can calmly hand over the wallet and carry on your holiday with minimum hassle. If you meet new friends, use the wallet, as it can be a bit insulting to go into a money belt to pay for your beers.
    David Wilson, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer
  1. Never exchange money in your hotel
    Instead, shop around for best rate. Find a credit/debit card that doesn’t charge for purchases abroad, and don’t bother with traveller’s cheques anymore. More: 10 secrets of foreign currency exchange
    Cat McGloin, Skyscanner PR Assistant
  1. Don’t carry (too much) cash
    I can’t remember visiting a country in the last 10 years that doesn’t have ATMs, so there’s really no need to carry about more cash than you need for a couple of days.
    Charlie Pank, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer
  1. Pack a pack of cards
    A game of cards is not only useful to while away the hours during the inevitable delays, but also a great cross- cultural barrier breaker.
    Andy Sleigh, Skyscanner General Manager, APAC
  1. Get a guide
    When visiting cultural monuments, always take the offer of a local guide. It will open your eyes to so much more than if you try and go it alone or just use a guide book.
    Andy Sleigh, Skyscanner General Manager, APAC
  1. Be flexible
    The more flexible you can be with your travel plans, the more money you’ll save (you’ll be able to travel at cheaper times and get better rates). Use Skyscanner’s handy month charts to find the cheapest days to fly in any given month. More: 20 money saving travel tips and secrets
    Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
  1. Sync your sleep
    To get over jetlag quickly on arrival, try to sync your sleeping pattern with the new time zone immediately. More: How to avoid jet lag
    Kirsty Donnelly, Skyscanner Recruitment Assistant
  1. Get travel insurance
    Always take out travel insurance (and don’t rely on credit card insurance alone). It sounds obvious but lots of people don’t bother, and end up losing a lot of money when things go wrong. More: 10 ways to void your travel insurance
    Philippa Waygood, Skyscanner Training Co-ordinator
  1. Be loyal
    If you’re looking for ways to get a flight upgrade, then join the airline’s loyalty programme. Even if it’s the lowest level, you still get rewarded first. More: 15 ways to get a flight upgrade
    Ewan Gray, Skyscanner Director Sales and Business Development, APAC
  1. Tiger Balm is medicine of the gods
    This Singaporean-made balm not only soothes sore muscles after a lot of travelling but also works as an insect repellent to keep the little biting beasties away. More: World’s worst biting bugs: how to avoid insect attack
    Louise McCloy, Skyscanner Search Marketing Executive
  1. Understand you might be understandable
    Just because he looks Caucasian, doesn’t mean he speaks English. And just because she looks Asian, doesn’t mean she can’t understand your French! Be wary of mouthing off when you think you’re speaking a language no one around you speaks. You never know who understands what.
    Tika Larasati, Skyscanner Market Development Manager, Indonesia

Philosophical Travel Musings

  1. Recognise that we’re all the same
    It’s only by travelling that you realise every society is as fractious and plural in their views as your own.
    Gareth Williams, Skyscanner CEO
  1. Avoid everywhere
    If you really, really want to get off the beaten track, buy the Lonely Planet guide, then avoid everywhere featured in it.
    Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
  1. Don’t plan anything
    It might be tempting to have every step of your trip planned to the nth degree, but unplanned days are often those that leave the most lasting, and fondest memories.
    Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director
  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
    Have an open mind and don’t sweat the small stuff; travel can be frustrating but you will look back and remember it forever.
    Dave Boyte, Skyscanner Market Development Manager, Australia
  1. DIY travel is best
    If you want to really experience a new country and culture, hire a car and plan it all yourself.  It is the freedom to do what you want and when you want, that makes for the best trips of all.
    Dean Cornish, Skyscanner Software Engineer
  1. Slow down
    Traveling is like life, it’s the journey that’s fun. Don’t just try to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Travel more slowly and you’ll discover more.
    Ben Hardy, Skyscanner Test Support
  1. Take the hard way
    The more difficult the travel challenge, the more rewarding it is; driving to Kazakhstan was a crazy life-experience; flying there would have just been a ‘trip’.
    Charlie Pank, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer
  1. Sitting is tiring
    Travelling some distance through the air makes you tired, even if all you do the whole time is sit in a comfy seat.
    Crawford Tait, Skyscanner Technical Manager
  1. Just go
    If you have a strong urge to ‘go travelling’ or even just to see one specific place, start saving and go for it! Don’t delay. Don’t defer. Just do it, or you will regret it when you’re too old/attached/busy to travel.
    Laura Wilson, Skyscanner Search Marketing Manager
  1. Don’t be paranoid
    Be wise and be wary, but try not to be paranoid. I once travelled with a guy who couldn’t relax because he was convinced everyone was out to steal his money or diddle him. He lost his car keys at one point and started blaming the family who had put us up for the night in the desert. He eventually found the keys at the bottom of his sleeping bag. More: 10 Travel Scams that cost unwary travellers
    Charlie Pank, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer

Not-so serious Travel Tips and Advice

  1. Hide your guidebook
    If you’re in London and need to ask directions then to stop people avoiding you, hide your guide book and map. If you’re in Glasgow and you want to avoid constantly being offered directions, hide your guidebook and map.
    David Hamill, Skyscanner Principal Interaction Designer
  1. There will always be Toblerone
    Got to the end of your holiday but forgotten to get gifts? No worries! It is a mathematical certainty that the world’s favourite mountain-shaped Swiss chocolate will always be available from every duty free airport shop on earth.
    Sam Poullain, Skyscanner PR Manager, APAC
  1. Don’t get angry
    Don’t waste energy getting upset with unseasoned travellers who don’t stand one metre back (or behind the painted line) from the luggage belt, so that everyone can see luggage arriving. I haven’t managed this yet though, and it always infuriates me! More: 13 most annoying plane passengers
    Annica Jansson, Skyscanner Market Development Manager, Nordics
    Listen to the Skyscanner travel podcast 7 Deadly Sins of Air Travel below:
  1. Steak Tartare is not steak with tartar sauce
    I learned that the hard way.
    Charlie Gildawie,Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer
  1. Saw your toothbrush in half
    To save space and reduce weight, saw your toothbrush in half. The extra three cubic centimetres of space can be used to carry an extra sheet of paper (see tip 2).
    James Teideman, Skyscanner Marketing Communications Executive
  1. Pretend to be asleep
    If you fart during your flight, just pretend to be asleep.
    Harold Aparte, Skyscanner Market Development Executive, Philippines

From Skyscanner team

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