5 Travel Hacks to Use on Your Next Big (or Small!) Vacation

You don't have to be a millionaire to travel (although that helps) but you do need to be smart. Ever wondered how your friend from college managed to pull off a round-the-world trip on a backpacker's budget, or how your intern can afford to take more vacations than you? It really comes down to making travel a financial priority, but these five travel hacks can help give you a running start on your next dream getaway.

Image: Fotolia

by Megan Eileen McDonough

Consider a Round-the-World Ticket

OK, not everyone has the flexibility in their work schedule to do this but if you’re constantly dreaming about travel, it may be time to take the gap year you never took after college. I know plenty of bloggers who quit their jobs (albeit after saving a significant chunk of change) and traveled the world. They either turned their trip into a sustainable revenue stream or found better jobs upon their return. Money-wise, round-the-world tickets are surprisingly affordable.

Check Out Flight Deals at British Airways

Choose your Credit Card Wisely

I know credit cards are a pain to keep track of, but sometimes these little guys come in handy. If you purchase one through an airline during a promotion, you’re likely to score 20,000 flight miles just by signing up. When researching, things to keep in mind are flexibility, value, and annual fees. Another thing to note is that even if you’re only sign up for United’s rewards program, for example, you can still accrue miles for your account when you fly any airlines within that alliance.

Download the Right Mobile Apps

Now that my parents have smartphones, I’m officially convinced that everyone does, which means there’s no excuse for not downloading travel apps that will actually enhance your trip. TripIt, for example, keeps all of your booking confirmation codes in one place. Hotel Tonight saves you money on last-minute hotel reservations, and Skyscanner will help you score a deal on flights by comparing prices on more than 1,000 airlines.

Know your Options

Instead of booking any hotel, think about what will ultimately save you money in the long run. If you have rewards points with a major hotel, that could lower the price. If you don’t, there’s still hope for you yet. Hostels aren’t just for young travelers and almost all of them have a few private rooms that sell for less than a hotel room. Alternative options like CouchSurfing and Airbnb will give you more of a local experience.

Check out hotel deals with Expedia

Think Outside the Box

Did you know that a lot of the disposable items in hotel bathrooms have a double purpose? Shower caps can be used as shoe covers and bar soap can alleviate itching on bug bites. Remember those ugly but soft socks you got on your flight over? That can serve as a protective cover for the souvenirs you’re about to buy. The same mentality appeals to all aspects of travel and will open your eyes to hacks you never knew existed.