12 Travel Hacks That Will Make Your Trip So Much Easier, According To Digital Nomads
It would be a huge understatement to say I was not the most savvy traveler when I first became a digital nomad. A savvy traveler, after all, would probably not book an Airbnb without reading the whole listing and then get surprised their bed was in the kitchen. They also probably wouldn't sleep through a flight, buy a new one leaving in just an hour, miss it, and have to buy a third. But they would learn from these mistakes and create fixes others can learn from. And that's what I and other digital nomads (hopefully) have done.
For those who don't know, a digital nomad is someone who works remotely while traveling continuously. We usually stay in each place for a few weeks or months. Many (like yours truly) and freelancers, while others have full-time remote jobs. This lifestyle is full of adventure, but it also can be hectic.
"Every time you switch locations, you create a laundry list of logistical problems to tackle," Kelly Chase, one half of Workationing, tells Bustle. "You need to find housing, figure out the exchange rate, find the grocery store, figure out public transportation, etc. All of that takes up a lot of time and head space, which can be an issue when you're also trying to get work done."
To make this process easier, many nomads have picked up travel hacks. Here are a few tips from digital nomads that any traveler could benefit from.
1. Ask Airbnb Hosts For Discounts
"When moving to Las Palmas earlier this year, I really struggled to find affordable medium-term accommodation as it was high season. A lot of the Airbnb apartments were quite a bit over my budget. I decided to contact the hosts directly to see whether they’d be happy to give me a discount for a long-term stay. To my surprise, all of them replied saying they’d be happy to. Many of them even knocked off a third of the price without me even haggling. Many of my friends have since tried this and had great success." — Jennifer Lachs, freelancer writer and founder of Digital Nomad Girls
"Always negotiate with Airbnb hosts. Often, you can get an extra 10 percent off, just by asking. You've got more leverage on the ask if you're staying for longer, rather than shorter (so if your'e staying for three weeks, see if you can negotiate for the monthly discounted rate. Staying for five days? See if you can get the discounted weekly rate, since it's so close to a full week). More often than not, I've been able to get the price down by negotiating." — Kari DePhillips, one half of Workationing
2. Create A "Classic Capsule Wardrobe"
"During my first digital nomad journey, I 100 percent overpacked and still didn't have everything I needed. It is absolutely about having very versatile items that can take you from warm Spanish nights to cold, Copenhagen afternoons. After all, nomading is about being mobile, and sometimes you have the opportunity to bounce to another city that you may not be prepared for! I definitely rely on the classic capsule wardrobe and fill in the extra space in my carryon (IATA-sized, so small) with a few favorite items. I'm a city girl, so there will always be a place to buy additional things if I really, truly, madly, deeply need them." — PR consultant Angela Hathaway
3. Get This App To Speed Through Customs
4. Avoid Deadlines While You're Relocating
"One of my top tips for those of us who are working while traveling is to avoid having any work calls or deadlines right before you leave your current destination or right after arriving somewhere new. There is nothing more stressful than dealing with last-minute pre-departure stuff, or discovering the Wi-Fi sucks in your new destination, while you're also trying to meet an important deadline or get online for a call. I typically avoid having any pressing work/deadlines within 48 hours of departure or arrival, so I can focus on other things as I uproot myself and get settled again." — Amy Scott, founder of Nomadtopia
5. Work In Libraries
"Coworking spaces are great, but if you can't afford one, most libraries in the U.S. offer free WiFi and a place to plug in your computer, so you don't end up shuffling between coffee shops all day and spending a fortune on lattes." — Theresa Boehl, Director of Content at BeachDeals
6. Fly On Unpopular Travel Days
"Book flight tickets on days that nobody wants to fly. For example: We flew to Japan from Amsterdam on Christmas Day and spent 400 euros on a return flight (that's cheap!!!!)." — Merel van der Wouden, Negotiation Expert
7. Join Loyalty Programs
"My tip is to sign up for any air miles programs with the airlines you use and also the loyalty cards for hotels. Air miles can be used for hotels, free flights, upgrades, and even dining. Loyalty programs from staying in a certain hotel chain or group can result in free accommodation and upgrades." — Ciara Doran, Editor of blognewsweekly.com
"There are thousands of housesits available around the world. Housesitting has saved me over $20,000 in rent, utilities, gym memberships, and dining out and has allowed me to meet locals, travel slowly, and have authentic travel experiences, all while having the companionship of pets and the comforts of home. I've done back-to-back sits around the U.S., Thailand, Malaysia, Portugal, Cyprus, the UK, and Greece thanks to TrustedHousesitters. I've created Housesit Hustle, a housesitting community that offers free and paid courses to help young travelers and digital nomads get started with housesitting." — Bianca Rappaport, Co-Founder of Housesit Hustle
9. Use Google Flights
"As a full time Digital Nomad/YouTuber, it's important to find affordable flights, as it's an ongoing expense. Google Flights is now my go-to website for seeking the cheapest flights from all the airlines you can see over a six-month period. This has been a huge money saver, as I now revolve my travel around flight times/prices rather than certain dates. This gives me more time to create videos and content rather than spending unnecessary money on flights." — Rachel Wilson, President & Founder, VloggerGear
10. Download Movies Before Plane Rides
"First, I'll peruse the in-flight entertainment to see if there are any interesting movies that I want to watch. I usually also download a few movies that I want to watch on my iPad and watch on board while sipping wine. You lose track of time if you're engrossed in a good film. Wear noise canceling headphones — you won't realize that you're on a flight!" — Neha Khullar, GlobeKick alum and author of Palette Passport
11. If A Plane Row's Empty, Take It
"Regardless of my seat assignment or my boarding zone, I always board the flight near the end of the boarding process when flying internationally aboard a 747 or any plane that has a middle seating section. Since most people go directly to their assigned seats when boarding, I look in the middle sections for a row that is completely empty, and if I find one, then I sit down in it. Many airlines keep four to five of these middle rows completely empty in case they need to transport additional passengers in the event of an emergency or unexpected circumstance. If someone else comes along and I happen to be sitting in their seat (or row), then I relocate and sit in my assigned seat. But more often than not, since most people have already boarded, I'll find that I have an entire middle row to myself (four seats) by the time everyone has boarded the plane.
Then, after takeoff, I'll raise all the armrests and I'll lay down across the four middle seats, fully stretched out and ready to get a good night's sleep. I'll set my clock to the time zone of wherever it is I'm landing and will sleep on the international flight in accordance with the schedule of my new destination. It prevents jet lag, makes the flight go by quickly, and is the most comfortable way to fly internationally on a small budget. I've probably done this eight or nine times during long international flights." — Jamie DeBole, CEO and Co-Founder at Globekick
12. Have Fun With Layovers
"I don’t think anyone truly looks forward to long haul flights, but one hack that’s made me actually look forward to them is this: I intentionally look for a long layover in a city I haven’t visited before. I see it as a bonus trip along the way, and as long as you aren’t in a rush to get to your final destination, it’s a great way to avoid being on a plane or in an airport for long stretches of time. Just make sure you do your research ahead of time on how long it takes to get from the airport to the city center. You don’t want to get stuck at an airport, because it’s too risky to leave and get back in time for your next flight. Amsterdam is a great place to layover, for example, because the train system is fast and it’s super easy to get to and from the airport without stressing yourself out." — Britny West, Mindset Coach
Memorize these tips, and your next flights and visits will be a whole lot easier.