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25 Useful Travel Hacks and Tips That Will Change How You Travel

Looking for the best travel hacks and tips? Use these tips to make your next trip even better.

We’re all about making travel easier and more accessible. Whether flying, road-tripping, or even going on a local adventure, here are some of our favorite travel hacks we’ve discovered over the years of full-time travel.

25 Useful Travel Hacks and Travel Tips that Will Change How You TravelPin

Thanks to Pilot Flying J for sponsoring this post. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: November 30, 2023

Road Trip Travel Hacks

1. Create a Playlist or Download Audiobooks

I take my road trip music seriously. The first time we went on a cross-country road trip over ten years ago, I worked on a playlist where no song would repeat for over 24 hours. Even today, I’m still adding and modifying my playlist only to include songs with a good driving beat. You don’t need one that long, but a road trip playlist can help you power through a long drive.

We like switching between music and audiobooks. Just download them so you can still listen to them without cell service.

Pro Tip: We recently discovered Libby, where you can download free audiobooks from your local library and listen to them offline. If you want to listen to classics without waiting through the online library queue, check out Project Gutenberg. However, I’ve only seen popular new books have long waits on Libby.

2. Download Travel Apps

Apps can come in handy when you’re on the road. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • myRewards Plus App – We’ve managed long stints on the road (we did Atlanta to LA in 36 hours straight). Regardless of whether we do any overnights, we always make stops for gas, stretch our legs, and pick up snacks. Pilot Flying J gas stations are our top choice on road trips. Not only do they have reasonable gas prices, but the convenience stores are more extensive and facilities clean and spacious (bye-bye dingy gas station bathrooms). Their free app makes it even better because it gives you 10¢ off every gallon of gas and deals to help you save money on snacks.
  • Google Maps – This is our go-to map app, and I typically download offline versions of the areas we’ll be in, especially when I know service might be spotty. It helps to be able to search and navigate without cell service.
  • GasBuddy – When I forget to watch the meter and need gas immediately, we use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas near us. It’s straightforward to use. They recently added a gas card, which helps you save money.
  • Spotify – As I mentioned above, I take my road trip music seriously.
  • Yelp – We love finding random gems for both food and roadside attractions. Since we primarily travel within the states, we use Yelp to find food. Instead of looking at the overall reviews, we also consider the reviewers’ demographics, town size, and specific complaints. I’m a maximizer, so I must see everything before making my ideal choice.

Pro Tip: The myRewards Plus App also has a Plan Your Trip feature to plan stops and export them to Waze or Apple Maps.

3. Be Ready for Emergencies

No one plans to have an emergency on the road, but it’s always wise to prep ahead. We always have a few things in our car ready for them.

  • First Aid Kit – in case anyone gets hurt.
  • Essential Tools – we have a multitool in our car.
  • Meds – we carry some basic meds, like Dramamine, Immodium, and Lactaid
  • Portable Air Compressor – you never know when you need air in your tires.
  • Wet Wipes / Paper Towels – or all those unexpected spills
  • TravelJohn – Ever since we discovered these, we always have a couple in the car in case we’re stuck in traffic or if you can’t find a bathroom for miles. They turn your pee into an odorless gel. It’s wild.
Car First Aid Kit + best travel hacksPin

4. Use Home Items in Creative Ways

We’ve found a few home items that we use in the car to make our ride more comfortable.

  • Tumblers for Snacks – Pack snacks in food tumblers for easy snack access and fewer spills. Plus, they stay in your cup holder. We’ve heard people use coffee creamer bottles, too!
  • Cereal Containers for Trash Cans – We picked up this hack from Pinterest. They keep your trash contained in one spot and make it easy to dump at a stop. It helps to keep a few extra trash bags in the car.
  • Dryer Sheets for Air Freshers – Dryer sheets can freshen the air without being too strong (regular car air fresheners can make me dizzy). You can also throw one in your suitcase to keep your bag and clothes smelling fresh. If you want a more sustainable option, use these reusable charcoal bags as a deodorizer. Refill with activated charcoal that you buy in bulk for fish tanks.
  • Suction Cup Shower Caddies are great for holding smaller items or snacks on windows. For people with kids, you can keep art supplies or toys in them. Shoe holders strapped to the back of the seat are another great storage option.

If you forget anything or need to make a last-minute stop, Pilot Flying J has you covered!

5. Set Up Your Car for Camping

Even if you don’t like camping, having a car camping setup is handy in case you need a nap or want to make an overnight stop in the middle of nowhere. We use this foam mattress (we cut the foam where the tires go), and it fits nicely in the trunk with our seats down. Finally, we have the perfect car setup with our foam mattress, solar generator, and rooftop storage!

See More: 21 Car Camping Essentials

International Travel Hacks

6. Scan and Email Yourself a Passport

You’ll have your passport, but having a hard copy and a digital copy (either photo or email) of your passport is wise in case it gets lost or stolen. We do this with tickets, confirmations, and other essential documents we may need.

7. Always Pack a Travel Adapter →

We love this travel adapter. It allows us to charge multiple devices simultaneously to keep them all alive! If you’re a light sleeper, keep it away from your bed since the fan can get noisy while charging many items.

8. Download Google Translate

Did you know that Google Translate can use your camera to translate signs, menus, or anything else you scan? Technology is crazy.

9. Don’t Exchange Money at the Airport

It’s tempting to exchange money at your destination airport, but you usually get the worst rates. Having a credit card with no exchange fees or going to local ATMs to withdraw cash is better. Just notify your credit card and bank you are traveling to so the transactions don’t get flagged.

10. Choose Long Layovers to Explore Cities

Sometimes, a long layover is a perfect way to break up flights. Plus, it allows you to explore the layover city without making an extra trip.

galeries lafayette rooftop viewPin

Packing Hacks

11. Roll Your Clothes and Use Compression Bags

Rolling your clothes helps you pack more in the same amount of space. I do this for the clothes in my closet, making them ready to go. When your clothes are dirty, keep them rolled up, too!

Pro Tip: If you need more space, compression bags or packing cubes will compress them even more.

Peak Design Packing Cubes + best travel hacks and travel tipsPin

12. Get Double-Sided Packing Cubes →

Packing cubes are great to help you organize your suitcase. I love the ones with a clean and dirty side to keep my clothes separate but still organized.

13. Create a Packing Check List

Even though we travel a ton, I still get anxious about forgetting to pack something on a trip. Because of that, I’ve created a packing checklist spreadsheet that I look over each trip. 

14. Pack Essentials in a Carry On →

We travel light and never check a bag, but sometimes they will take them from you if the flight is full! I get paranoid because they’ve lost our bags for months before in this scenario. If you check your bag, have all your essentials in your personal carry item, including meds, toiletries, and an extra set of clothes. That way, if anything happens to your luggage, you at least have the basics. 

Pro Tip: Be familiar with your credit card benefits. Many travel cards will give you a stipend to replace items if your luggage is lost.

See More: 15 Carry-On Essentials You Need for Every Flight

15. Get Reusable Travel Bottles for Toiletries →

Rather than buying miniature versions of your toiletries or trying to pack the large products, get some reusable travel bottles that you can fill with your favorite items that keep you under the 3 oz requirement. I even picked up a spray bottle for my toner and tubs for makeup.

GoToob - Leak-Proof Travel Containers for LiquidsPin

General Travel Hacks + Tips

16. Download Offline Maps

We use this rule locally and abroad. Before heading anywhere where we think we might have spotty service, we download Google Maps offline to help us navigate the area. It has been a lifesaver!

17. Talk to Locals

As much research as you can do online, locals always know the best under-the-radar spots. They can tell you about great deals, happy hours, unique experiences, and more. Even if you’re talking to your servers while eating out, find out what spots they like to frequent.

18. Pack Snacks

Being hangry is the worst! We always keep snacks handy on outdoor adventures, flights, and road trips. Our favorite snack on the go is currently Built Bars. I still can’t believe they made protein bars taste like actual candy (Use the Built Bar discount code “LOCALADVENTURER” for 10% off your order).

Anytime we’re on a road trip, we’ll pick up extra snacks when we stop at Pilot Flying J. Their free app even has deals on food and drinks.

See More: Genius In Flight Hacks to Elevate Your Dining Experience

built bar best protein bar travel snacks carry on essentialsPin

19. Travel During Off Season

Do some research ahead of time and try visiting spots during shoulder season. Not only will hotels and flights be cheaper, but it’s less crowded too!

Pro Tip: Depending on the location, check to see what’s open during the shoulder and off-season. Some smaller towns will shut down a lot of businesses during this time.

20. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle →

A refillable water bottle (click to see our favorites) is essential for traveling. I used to always feel dehydrated during trips. Now we use them on flights by filling up after TSA, so we have water before the beverage service. Many hotels have water bottle stations in the gym, so we have water in the room anytime we need it. Plus, it’s just better for the environment. We use one of three types of bottles when we travel.

See More: 7 Best Travel Water Bottles Tested on the Road

Travel Hacks for Flight Bookings

21. Delete Your Browser Cookies

Airline companies use cookies to track your searches, and flight prices can change depending on the demand and conditions. To avoid this, use an incognito tab or delete your browser cookies.

22. Book Flights on Cheaper Days

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are typically the cheapest days to fly. Of the three days, Tuesday is the best. If you have the flexibility, travel on those days to save money on your flight.

23. Avoid Peak Hours

Similar to the example above, flying during the day can affect the price too! Flights are usually cheaper if you fly between 5-7 am or after 8 pm.

24. Get the Full Row

When traveling with a companion, choose an aisle and window seat in the same row. On emptier flights, you might get the whole row to yourselves. If it’s fully booked, one of us moves to the middle seat since most prefer an aisle or window. But I’m waiting for the day someone wants to sit between us!

Not a Delta Hub + Pros and Cons of Living in Las VegasPin

25. Spoof Your Location

Regional prices are also a factor when it comes to booking. This trick only works for international flights, but if you have a VPN and a credit card that doesn’t have a high foreign transaction fee, check the flight prices from multiple locations. Often you’ll find different prices from different countries.


That’s our list! What other travel hacks do you use? We love learning more about how you travel so we can all travel smarter.

Special thanks to Pilot Flying J for sponsoring this post. When it comes to road trips, they are our go-to pit stop. They are North America’s largest network of travel centers, so we can reliably find them throughout the US. We also love that we know what we’re getting: reasonable prices on gas, clean and spacious bathrooms, and a great selection of food and snacks.

If you download their free app, you can get 10¢ off every gallon of gas and deals on food and drink. They are investing $1 billion over the next three years to improve their stores.

What are your favorite travel hacks?

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Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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