Traveling for work and traveling just to go on vacation are two profoundly different things, but there is no doubt that the former activity allows you to develop skills and discover tricks that make the latter easier. You travel often, especially in Europe and mostly for work, but you don’t have a company that pays you. Like all freelancers, with the exception of cases where the travel is paid for by the client, all costs and even all efforts are entirely your responsibility. Among the undeniable advantages is the possibility to get an unbearable air of sailing every time a friend tells me he plans to go on vacation, but also to write articles about it with the word “travel-hacks” in the title. We’ve already told you about how to travel the world while saving the environment, so today we’re talking about how to do it while saving ourselves, that is, saving time, money and effort. Each of these trips will add a few points to the quality of your trip and your life, but being able to put them all together will make it feel like the first time you’ve had a death in mortal combat (you can also enter a metaphor that fits your age and favorite subculture at will).
Save on airfare
The advent of sites like eDreams or Expedia has made us lazy. After the first few years of enthusiasm for last-minute flights, low-cost airlines, and the ability to spend less on air travel than on a mortgage payment, prices have fallen into two broad categories: unacceptable and disappointing. Unacceptable is a two-hour European flight with Alitalia at €746 in low season, disappointing is everything else. There are a few money-saving tips and with a little patience you can find convenient flights to almost any destination. And in case you don’t succeed, you don’t have to travel by plane.
Delete your search history
The first thing you need to know when searching for air travel online is that cookies don’t help sites improve their services, they help them know how much you care about that particular destination and increase the price from one search to the next. That’s why you should always clear your history and cookies, or browse with an anonymous browser like Tor (which is very useful for many things and which you should download regardless of air travel).
Travel sites or airlines?
Sites that search for flights from different airlines can be helpful in getting an idea of options, but it’s always worth checking the airline sites: you’ll often find lower prices for the same flights there. It’s also a good idea to sign up for airline frequent flyer programs that cover the routes that interest you most. For the same cost, you will receive benefits, free flights and, in some cases, the possibility of receiving an upgrade to business class at no extra charge. This way you can brag to your friends that you’re flying business class and can wait for your flight in the business lounge (where there are the exact same kids screaming at the gate, only more spoiled and with more iPads).
When to travel, when to book.
Traveling on weekdays is generally cheaper than on Mondays or Sundays. The days when flights are statistically cheaper in general are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and, oddly, Saturdays. The same flight on the same day, however, can be sold at a different price on different days (the principle is no different than stock market fluctuations, which is another way of saying I don’t know why). Buying on Tuesday or Wednesday will save you money on most sites.
Save on hotels
One word: Airbnb. But also Homeaway and many other related sites. Until recently, the dilemma, especially for freelancers, was this: go to a hotel for more money, but deduct the stay from taxes, or rent a room or small apartment from a private individual and forgo the deduction at the end of the year? For businesses, there was no doubt: the hotel was the only viable option. Airbnb recently solved the problem by enabling the feature for business travel as well, with the ability to register your business and book trips for yourself and also for your employees. For the past several years, I haven’t considered any other option when traveling for a trade show.
Save space (which then equals saving money)
If you’re traveling with only a carry-on, it’s worth learning a few space-saving tips and developing a travel philosophy aimed at avoiding waste. After years of unnecessary luggage and clothing brought home unused, we recommend this simple principle to apply to everything: when in doubt, don’t bring it. If you’re not sure you want to wear that shirt, don’t wear it. The same goes for any piece of clothing. Unless you have activities planned that require a particular type of clothing (such as gala evenings, ceremonies or, at the other extreme, trekking or beach days), limit yourself to one pair of shoes. This also applies to women. If one person can do it, so can you. Pack with combinations that allow you to use the same items multiple times and, if possible, roll them up instead of folding them: they will take up half the space.
Save time: don’t check your luggage
No, this is not just an obsession of everyone for whom airlines have lost luggage at least once in their lives (or even twice in a row, so to speak), it is a fact. Packing takes up a lot of time and makes all travel slower and heavier. If you really can’t travel alone with a carry-on, as is the case for those who carry sports equipment or musical instruments, label your luggage “fragile”. It’s a trick and the airlines may not be happy about it, but in fact the fragile tag will ensure that your suitcase will always be on top of all the others and therefore be among the first to be put on the conveyor belt.
Offline apps and maps
There are many apps that aim to make your life easier when traveling, sooner or later I promise to try them all and write a comparative review. In the meantime, dive into the web and your go-to store and find the one that works best for you. I find AroundMe particularly helpful and simple, allowing you to immediately identify the activities you need nearby. Unlike Tripadvisor, which focuses solely on stores, AroundMe helps you quickly and easily find gas stations, pharmacies, post offices and police stations. If your data plan doesn’t allow you to navigate the area you’re in without limitations, download offline maps before you go, so you don’t have to perform medieval activities like reading an actual street map. Sarcasm aside, street maps get lost, ruined, wet or forgotten in the subway. Okay, even smartphones, but in this case, street orientation will be the least of your problems.
The best habit you can make is to scan all your documents, personal and travel, and send them to your email. That way, in the worst case scenario, you will always have all the information you need to paint a clear picture of your situation for local or airport authorities. Before leaving for an unfamiliar country, you should also find out about all the documents required for your trip and specific security measures.