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A tourist with many arms using travel hacks A tourist with many arms using travel hacks

The top 40 travel hacks

We've been taking the hassle out of our customers' holidays for 40 years, so we've picked up a travel trick or two along the way. Here are our 40 favourite hacks for your next trip.

For 40 years, Holiday Extras have been looking after our customers' cars while they go travelling, and in 2023 we expect to park our 100 millionth car at a UK airport.

As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations, we asked our team and we asked you for the best travel hacks from the past 40 years. Here's a run down of our top 40 travel tips for your next holiday.

Child holding passport with parents in the background

Planning your trip

1. Check your passport

The UK passport office is expcting a backlog of passport applications again in 2023, so check now whether your passport runs out (or ran out) and get your renewal in before the rush.

2. Make digital copies

Take photos of your passports and other important documents, so even if you lose your paperwork you've got digital backup copies.

3. Check the currency before you book

Filter your destinations by how its currency is performing against the pound. The pound had a poor 2022 and some countries, especially the USA but also in Europe, are relatively more expensive than ever. Other destinations, like Turkey, Sri Lanka and Senegal, are cheaper relative to the pound, meaning your money will go further.

Change hassle-free

Swap to a cheaper destination and save money without compromising on your trip

Change hassle-free

4. Check the rules

Some countries still have Covid restrictions that may effect your travel plans. The USA is effectively closed to unvaccinated visitors, and it's still largely impossible to travel to China, Russia or Ukraine, so make sure to plan ahead.

5. Travel to Europe while it's easy

The EU ETIAS scheme is coming in November, and the EES biometric checking scheme in May. Neither should stop you flying, but both will probably come with delays so time your European getaway accordingly.

Kotor, Montenegro

6. Get your GHIC

The old EHIC card will still work in Europe for free emergency healthcare, but it's no substitute for good, comprehensive travel insurance and when it runs out you'll need the new GHIC anyway. Functionally identical, it offers the same cover throughout Europe so check whether you need a new one before you travel.


Booking your trip

7. Get seven weeks off

In 2023 you can take a whole seven weeks off for just 19 days' annual leave – see our guide to learn how.

49 days off in 2023

Maximise your annual leave with our guide to the days you need to book off

Take seven weeks off

8. Check your old Covid vouchers

It may be your last chance before they run out, so check whether any trips you cancelled back in the dark days of 2020 sent you a voucher you haven't used yet, and if so put it towards your holiday.

9. Use incognito mode

Before you book, check prices using incognito mode on your browser and make sure you've not fallen victim to a pricing trick.

10. Fly in the morning

According to Expedia you're 11% less likely to face cancellations or disruptions in the morning. Makes sense – if there's a problem it'll knock on so the later you fly, the more chance there is of getting swept up in the disruption.

11. Use all the aggregators

Before you click buy, compare your flights with Skyscanner, Hopper and Google Flights to make sure you're getting the best price.

12. Pre-book excursions

Pre-book your must-see excursions. You're not likely to come back any time soon so you won't want to miss any important sights. And as an added bonus, you'll usually save some money too.

13. Take a woliday

If you're going anywhere for work, extend your trip and make it a woliday – work, plus holiday, for a longer break (most of which your work has already paid for).

Person working on laptop with a sea view

14. Book your airport parking early

Book your airport parking as soon as you book your flights. Last year UK holidaymakers wasted £100 million paying for airport parking on the day, so book early and don't get stung for the drive-up price.

Book your airport parking

UK holidaymakers wasted £100 million paying the drive-up price for airport parking. Book in advance and save some money.

Book now

15. Sort out your travel insurance as soon as you book

Travel insurance is not just for while you're away. You'll want to be insured should anything happen before you travel, so make sure you book insurance as soon as you book your trip.


Packing

16. Share the love (and the pants)

If you're travelling as a group, spread the clothes around your suitcases. That way if one bag goes missing, you'll still have some clean clothes when you land, even if it's just enough to go clothes shopping in.

17. Keep an eye on your luggage

Did you know you can get your face printed on your luggage? You can, and there's two good things about it. You'll find your luggage first when you get off the plane. And it's almost worthless to thieves – who else wants a suitcase with your face on it?

18. Carry only solids

You know how you can't take liquids through security? Freeze them and they're solids. They won't like it, but it's still true.

Or if you want to try something slightly more practical, opt for bars of shampoo and soap, as well as solid deodorant sticks, which should pass through security with ease.

Extreme airport hacks

From drinking your shampoo to bringing a hammock, here's our silliest hacks at the airport.

Have some fun

19. Splurge on bags at duty free

Not extra suitcases (you don't need to carry more of them) but more duty free bags. Pick some up at the airport at either end of your flight and you can usually get away with packing your clothes in them and checking them on for free.

20. Invest in packing cubes

Inside your bags they'll keep everything neat and organised, and also make unpacking at the other end an absolute breeze.

21. Take the laundry with you

Pack a dryer sheet in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

22. Handle with care

Mark your luggage "fragile" so the baggage handlers are more likely to look after them.

23. Shower cap shoes

Pack your shoes in shower caps so they don't touch the rest of your things.

24. Makeshift jewellery detangler

Keep your jewellery from getting tangled by feeding the chain through a straw.

25. The Russian dolls trick

If you have a set of suitcases, pack the middle one for the outbound, then put it in the bigger one. That way, on the way back you have a big suitcase to bring all your gifts and souvenirs back.


Travelling

26. The middle seat hack

If there's two of you flying together, book the aisle and the window. No one wants the middle seat between two strangers, so unless the flight's full you should get a whole row and a spare seat to yourselves.

27. Queue behind business travellers

In a rush at the airport? Queue behind business travellers if you can, who are usually also in a rush to get through security. And avoid getting stuck behind families – you might be there a while.

28. Baby powder?

Bring baby powder, it's great to use for freshening up. It's also one of the best ways to remove stubborn sand between your toes after a day at the beach.

29. Be nice

Be nice to the check-in team. First, why wouldn't you? Second, when you greet them politely and ask them about their day and they smile, you'll see how few people bother. And third, if being nice to another human isn't reward enough, it sometimes gets you an upgrade.

30. Picking up baby milk

If you're travelling with a baby, you probably don't want to check your baby milk in (because your baby presumably wants to drink it). So order some from Boots on the other side of the gates and pick it up when you're through.

31. Save some money by booking a lounge

Did you know it's usually cheaper to book a lounge than not? We asked UK holidaymakers who didn't book a lounge what they spent on food, drink and sundries waiting at the airport, and it was more than the average cost of a lounge – where the food and drinks are free! So you may well find it cheaper to book a lounge before you go than paying full airport prices.

Treat yourself to a free lounge

Most people tell us they spend more waiting in departures than they would have spent on a lounge

Treat yourself!

Once you're there

32. Jog on

Try running off jet lag when you get to your destination – some of our customers swear by it!

33. Download your maps and wifi finder

Roaming and data charges being what they are, you'll save yourself a bundle by downloading Google Maps for your destination before you go then using in offline mode. You can also download an app to show you where to get free wifi.

34. Your own translator

Alternatively, if you do have data when you're away, you can use Google Translate to photograph and then translate foreign signs, menus and anything else you don't understand. Remember when your teachers tried to teach you French because you might need it one day? Let the robots do the work instead.

35. Beat the snatchers (part 1)

An anti-theft purse or backpack is often a smart investment. The sheer hassle of losing your documents, let alone your cards and money, can write off a holiday, so keeping everything tucked away in a purpose-made pickpocket-proof bag has saved many a trip.

36. Beat the snatchers (part 2)

When you check in to your accommodation, hide your emergency cash in a lip balm tube. People don't usually steal second-hand lip balm, so if you do get robbed you'll have some emergency cash left.

37. Pick your spot

Eat where the locals eat, not the places next to the tourist strip – you'll often pay a fraction of the price for a more authentic meal.

38. Enjoy the long layovers

People try to avoid long layovers because kicking around the airport for a few hours just eats into your trip. But make it 12 hours, and you've got time to catch a whole other city. Check your layover options, and don't automatically turn down the longer ones – they're an opportunity, not just dead time in the terminal.

39. Complain in public

If something goes wrong, tweet it. Facebook it. TrustPilot it. Travel companies will solve your problems a whole lot quicker when millions of other people are watching how they handle your complaint.

40. Head to the local tourism office

Tourism office workers know practically everything that's going on in the local area, and will be more than happy to give you insider tips on things to do so you can make the most of your precious time away.