Travel in 2021 may still be difficult but if you're able to get out there and adventure, here are some of my Top Travel Hacks for 2021:
1. Stay updated
This one may seem obvious, but with rules and guidelines changing constantly, make sure you're checking for the latest updates at home and your intended destination frequently so you aren't blindsided by some information you didn't have when you booked the trip. Or even worse, you aren't able to go because you weren't aware of the new policies.
2. Be flexible
You will always be able to get more with less IF you are able to be flexible. In this case, flexibility pertains to either your travel dates or your destination.
If you have dates that you can travel that can't be changed, then be flexible with your destination. Use Skyscanner to input your available travel dates and then search for destination 'Everywhere' to show where you can fly the cheapest those days. If you're flexible with dates but know exactly where you want to go, search for the cheapest time to fly by inputting your destination in Skyscanner and choose 'Cheapest month' for Depart and Return dates. The cheapest days to fly will be highlighted in green and the most expensive will be red.
3. Make reservations
After confirming your travel dates and booking your transportation, consider making reservations for as many activities as possible if you have limited time in your destination.
If there is something you really want to do, or some place you really want to dine at, don't chance it that you'll be able to just waltz in like you might have been able to in the "good old days" pre-COVID. If they offer reservations, definitely make them as far in advance as you can to guarantee your spot! Don't miss out on anything you wanted to do just because you didn't make a reservation prior - you've waited too long to travel for that to be what stops you!
4. Pack light with a capsule wardrobe
Whether flying, bussing, cruising, or roadtripping is your desired mode of transportation this year, you can adventure easier by packing lighter.
Typically, clothing takes up the most space and tends to be the thing that people overpack the most of. By preparing a capsule wardrobe of clothing that is comfortable, versatile, and mixes and matches with nearly everything else, you will save yourself time, effort, and a massive headache trying to lug everything around, looking for particular things in your bag, and having to launder it all. Save yourself the trouble and pack light.
If you want to pack light and still have a multitude of outfit options, check out some of SPLICE clothing's preset Capsules. And if you need help packing light in general, check out the Pack Light Guide.
5. Use contactless payments and check-ins as much as possible
With COVID-19 still rudely lingering in 2021, it's best to still social distance, wear your mask, wash your hands, and touch as little as possible in public while traveling. There are some easy ways to do your shopping, food ordering, and check-in at a hotel or Airbnb without having to even come in contact with another person. When you have that option, use it!
6. BYOS - Bring Your Own Sanitizer
Have your own on-hand (no pun intended) at all times just in case you need it.
TSA allows one 12 ounce liquid hand sanitizer container per passenger carry-on, so don't forget to take it with! Use that sanitizer or a sanitizer wipe to clean your seat, armrests, and tray table if you'll be on a plane, bus, or train.
7. Use an ATM at your destination to get foreign currency
You will get a better exchange rate if you take out cash from ATMs at your chosen destination than if you trade for foreign currency at a bank in your home country or at a currency exchange counter in the airport. I did this all around the world on 6 continents and it was never a problem.
Most financial institutions charge fees for using an ATM from a bank that you do not have an account with. If you can get a debit card that reimburses these fees, that is the best case scenario because you can pull out small amounts of money at a time as many times as you want without having to pay tons of fees. My Charles Schwab debit card lets me do this. If you're an American citizen, I highly recommend checking out their Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account just for the ATM rebates alone.
8. Download offline maps
Even if you don't anticipate not having cell service while traveling, it can still be beneficial to download an offline map of where you'll be.
You can download offline maps on Google Maps or with an app called Maps.Me. Not only will you have driving directions, bus routes, and the most efficient walking paths at your fingertips, but you can also use these tools to find public bathrooms, pharmacies, restaurants, parking lots, post offices, and local attractions you didn't previously know existed.
9. Pack non-liquid toiletries
Convert some of your travel toiletries to solids to keep your liquid count down and to prevent any spills while in transit. Nowadays you can buy solid skincare items, shampoo and conditioner bars, toothpaste tablets, solid cosmetics, and laundry soap sheets.
Even if you're only gone for a few days, you might want to bring laundry sheets like this one to hand wash your mask(s) in the sink at night since you'll be wearing them a lot! Read 6 Non-Liquid Toiletries that are Perfect for Carry-on Only Travel for more info on these solid toiletry items.
10. Stuff & easily wash your travel pillow
Instead of bringing a bulky, inconvenient, and dirty travel pillow that you'll only use in transit, bring a travel pillow that's easy to clean and serves another purpose besides just being a pillow.
The Tube and Flight Fillow are both stuffable travel pillows that can be filled with things like sweaters, jackets, or blankets to use as a comfortable pillow, but then pack down flat when not in use. And because they are not actually stuffed, it's easy to just throw them in the laundry or hand wash them between uses for a clean pillow every single time.
It's true, travel is harder and more limited than it's been in a long time, but the adventure is still well worth it. If you have the opportunity to travel safely in 2021, I say GO! Just make sure you're prepared with these hacks!
Did I leave any out? Let me know your best travel hacks in the comments!