This article first appeared on Go Away's 29 Sneaky But Remarkably Useful Travel Tips, According To Reddit
From former front desk agents to frequent travellers, these Reddit users dish out some pretty solid travel advice you may not have heard before.
Can't sleep on long-haul flights? Should you book your accommodation via a third-party booking site? Tried-and-tested answers to those questions, and more, below.
On hotel bookings
1. I don't travel much but I book travel for a living. If your plans change and you need to cancel your hotel reservation against the hotel's cancellation policy, don't call and cancel.
I've tried to barter with hotels many times, but truthfully unless you have a good relationship with the hotel, they have no reason to refund you.
Instead, call the hotel and move your reservation to next week. Even if it is against the cancellation policy, most hotels will allow you to alter a reservation without issue.
Then (usually a few hours later to guarantee you talk to a different hotel rep), call and cancel your "new" reservation. (From Peacockblue11)
2. I'm not currently travelling but I do work at a hostel in Australia.
95 per cent of customers who come through here take whatever price we tell them, the other 5 per cent got discounts.
Ask for a discount EVERYWHERE you go.
The worst outcome is they say no. (From greybomber)
3. I used to work as a front desk agent.
I would suggest finding the lowest rate possible online and then calling the hotel to ask whether they would prefer you reserve online or via telephone.
Because online reservation companies take a commission out of each sale, the hotel agent should say they would prefer over the telephone.
Be kind and courteous, but ask if they are able to meet or beat the online price.
If you have a responsible employee on the line with you, they will go to the next lowest option to beat the internet price. (From psychosomatick)
4. As a former employee of one of the largest hotel chains, I would say: (A) Call the hotel, always be polite and respectful. Attitude and entitlement are complete turn-offs, yet many folks take that approach; (B) Do not first book online - third-party reservations have many restrictions.
The computer management system simply will not allow modification to those types of resos.
These are also some of the worst customers; (C) Call for upgrade or room request, such as highest floor with a view of the city skyline, the day before or day of arrival a little after 3pm.
You should catch the primary check-in associate at the start of their shift when their mood and spirits are high.
Within this 32-hour window the staff knows what the hotel occupancy will be and how best to adjust their selling strategy to max out occupancy.
For example, most high-end suites will not sell at their standard rate the day of arrival, most walk-ins are budget minded, therefore a hotel may give free upgrades to folks who have already booked, have been past guests, or are rewards members. (From rtpilot50)
On long-haul flights
5. If you have the slightest sniffle, bring a decongestant for the plane.
Much worse once you get up there. (From Cwlion)
6. Wear comfortable, easily removable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of standing, walking, and possibly running through security, and the last thing you want is leg cramps or blisters because you wore shoes that didn't fit well.
Also, don't wear sandals or anything with open toes. Airports and airplane floors see thousands of passengers per day and are disgusting.
The plane can get cold and the seats are very cramped (at least in coach class) and you don't want your feet to get chilled or stepped on. (From _Z_E_R_O)
7. Purchase some antibacterial, moisture-wicking undergarments and take them on any trip that may involve high temps, a lot of walking, excessive physical activity, or prolonged wear/re-use of said undergarments. (From mdowney)
8. If you are flying long haul and struggle with sleeping on a plane, you can help alleviate some of the ongoing jetlag by booking a flight that arrives at your destination in the morning.
By keeping yourself busy the moment you arrive and going to bed at a somewhat normal (local) time, you can kick your body into the local timezone pretty quickly. (From screamingstupidity)
9. Have a really nice shower and eat foods that are easily digestible and don't make you feel bloated. I feel like half the game is won by being comfortable sitting in that seat.
I tend to be miserable if I didn't get to feel showered and put together, if I am hungry or uncomfortable from a previous meal, if I'm dehydrated or if I have not been taking care of my body.
These first three steps might not seem like they make a difference if you do them, but it will feel like a huge mistake if you don't. (From Eceitel)
10. If you're flying coach with a companion and you can pick your seats online, don't sit right next to each other in a row of 3 seats. One of you take the aisle, and the other take the window, leaving the middle seat empty if possible.
When other people are selecting their seats, nobody willingly takes a middle seat unless there are no other options …
If, however, someone does show up for the middle seat prior to takeoff, simply tell them that you made a mistake when booking and that you'd prefer to sit next to your companion.
No person in their right mind wants to sit in the middle seat between a couple if they have the option to take a seat on either side instead. Win-win. (From old_french_whore)
11. Pavlovian conditioning. I listen to the same music every night while going to bed for weeks.
I actually use the Sound Sleep app on Android - it has a lot of options that you can overlay on each other to get the desired effect.
It will be hard the first couple of days if you usually sleep quietly, but it's worth it.
The more you do this, the stronger your mental connection between the sounds and sleep.
Now whenever I think I'm going to have trouble sleeping I pull it up and about three notes in I start feeling drowsy. (From arbitrary_cantaloupe)
12. It is harder to sleep slightly reclined than fully upright (think lotus position from yoga). Fully upright, your spine supports the weight of your head.
Slightly reclining, everything is being pulled by gravity in ways your body is not prepared for.
So, keep the reclining to a minimum, if at all.
Also, neck pillows that act like cervical collars - immobilising your head with relation your spine - are fantastic.
They keep your head feeling weightless so you don't do any crazy head nod stuff, and if you keep your eyes closed long enough you can actually convince yourself that you are horizontal.
Horseshoe-shaped neck pillows are not what I'm talking about; you need something with a flat-ish back. For myself, I pop into the pharmacy or medical supply store and actually pick up a C-collar.
I don't care if I look goofy while sleeping because I'm going to be the one looking awesome once I disembark the plane. (From theinfamousj)
13. If you stay in hostels, travel with a little padlock. Hostels often don't provide them for the lockers. (From hippiebanana)
14. I never check my phone for directions while walking on the streets alone at night. It distracts you from your surroundings. If you need to check Google Maps, duck into a store or a brightly lit storefront. Failing that, keep your back against a wall. (From velvety123)
15. When I venture out at night, I usually take a condensed version of my wallet: ID (if drinking), cash, and one card so risk is minimised. (From velvety123)
16. Similar to how you have a panic azimuth when hiking, commit to memory a landmark, main street or bus/train station and learn to pronounce their names perfectly. (From velvety123)
17. Scams come in various forms and various levels of shadiness. Learn the most common ones in the country you're going to before you travel.
For example, in India, taxi drivers will often tell you the hotel/guesthouse you asked to be taken to is closed for renovation, so they will take you to a better one instead.
This is not true. The "better one" is just one that gives them a kickback. If you know to expect this, stand your ground.
More common than outright scamming is overcharging and trying to get money from you by being your uninvited tour guide (Egypt is the worst for this). Be clear and upfront when you negotiate prices with people. (From Golgatem)
18. Don't email your credit card numbers [to yourself or someone at home].
This is a bad idea unless everything is heavily encrypted. Personally I've committed my credit card info (exp date and CVV2 as well) to memory. (From noc007)
Other useful tips
19. Get a microfibre towel - it dries about 500 times faster than a regular towel and folds up really small. (From hippiebanana)
20. Always carry earplugs. Always. (From magicbullets)
21. I've always carried wallets in my front pocket.
It doesn't make sense to sit down with a lopsided a**. (From NiKva)
22. Bring a first-aid kit. Mine is really bare-bones: aspirin, charcoal pills, and Band-aids.
Just enough to get you comfortable enough to seek real medical attention.
Of course if you are going to be in the wilderness where help is further away, pack a more extensive first-aid kit. (From velvety123)
23. Baby wipes are your best friend. You can give yourself a quick wipe down, and you will feel much cleaner than just washing your face. (From amazonallie)
24. It may sound obvious, but if you are travelling to tropical countries, little waterproof bags to put important things in are incredibly useful - if the outer bag fails, all your electronics, documents, etc. will still be dry.
Also, don't bring too many electronics - you only really need the basics.
Nothing says "idiot tourist prime for mugging" than the guy with a huge camera, iPhone, laptop and tablet (you'd be surprised, I saw a guy like this in the middle of a rainforest once).
Dragging all that stuff around is pointless and they weigh you down. (From mt777)
25. The best advice I can give you is not to go in demanding anything. That is the quickest way to NOT get what you want. (From auditnaut)
26. I pack with the assumption that my check luggage will be lost. So I always have enough stuff to get through a few days.
Anything expensive and anything even slightly breakable stays with me. Also, my wife and I exchange clothes so that if one bag gets lost the other will still have something. (From ftardontherun)
27. Check your hotel bed for bed bugs and never, ever, ever lay your bag on the floor, bed, or anything fabric (hard surfaces are okay).
If your room has bed bugs and you throw your bag onto a chair or couch, those bugs are a real pain to get rid of. (From phxflyer)
28. Don't sweat petty things. And don't pet sweaty things. (From jpmurphyslaw14)
29. A lot of really great advice here but I would like to add this: don't be a dick.
You are a representative of wherever you are from.
If you act like an a**hole, people will associate that type of behaviour with where you are from and it creates a circle of resentment. Also, when it trouble/need, being polite is way better than bitching someone's a** off. (From nayrlladnar)
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