My Travel Hacks & Free Luggage for Your Next Adventure (Part 2)

April 9, 2013 - Get free updates of new posts here

While I was in India, I learned a few travel hacks (and travel cheap tips) that I thought you could use when you travel in your country or others.

all i packed for 33 days in india (note turkey jerky!)
All I Packed for 33 days in India (thanks for the bag Lisa F!)

1- Nice clothes. You can use this at the airport counter to ask for upgrades or do a tuxedo experience like my friend Ikrima: (via Susan Su)

2- Bring $1 bills. Assuming your currency is “more” valuable than another it’s a great tip and souvenir to hand these out to people. An alternative is snacks or candies you can give out to children. (via Nick Gray)

3- Using hotels. If you are ever lost, need a rest or want to have a nice moment to yourself try to find the nearest & nicest hotel. Perfect for directions, using internet and enjoying a fancy drink or buffet while I was going about my day.

4- Say you work for Lonely Planet. I didn’t do this but think it could work wonders while you are traveling. That 1 book has the power to make or break many establishments so I was curious the impact if I said I worked there. If someone tries this, do a write up and I’ll send it out to the community.

Looking for iPad Apps for World Travel? Look no further.

5- Always visit 2 stores in a new country. While traveling Austria a few years back I got super excited and bought 50 euros worth of dried figs. A minor obsession, don’t ask. Then I went to the next stall and the same amount of figs were 25 Euros. WTF. My expensive lesson, your free knowledge. In new places always check at least 2 prices on more expensive items. Also it always helps to ask for a cheaper rate if you let them know you can get it cheaper.

6- Add a reward card to your traveling wallet. My good friend Susan lost her wallet while we were scootering in Goa. She got the wallet back without the cash but with her cards. Always include your information in your travel wallet (phone, email, address) in case someone finds it you have a better chance of getting it back.

7- Subreddits. Go to I did this with and was able to read the local news and have the chance to connect with others like me (if need be).

8- Couchsurfing. I forgot about this site and didn’t use it on this trip but being shown around by a local is massively better than just going through a tour book. Couchsurfing is great for finding meet ups of locals and tourists in the places you are going to (not just for finding a couch to crash).This is one of the best ways on how to travel on the cheap.

9- Learn. If you’re not learning as you travel, what’s the point? I’ve learned a lot by traveling. I wrote a bit about my time in Cuba and the things I learned while I was there.

Tom Bihn loves us so they are giving gave away:

After much sake drinking…

Congratulations to Chris who got the goods! Great comments by all and happy travel hacking!

P.S. To read Part 1 about my Trip to India visit

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178 responses to “My Travel Hacks & Free Luggage for Your Next Adventure (Part 2)

  1. Dan Reply

    Great tips! Another suggestion is to bring local post cards to give away to strangers.

    I’d love to go to Russia for my next trip!

  2. Abby Nocon Reply

    Never thought of the nice clothes for upgrades. Also been checking out Lat56’s traveling gear. Lightweight and carryon size, but with super strong elements.

    I’m looking at Iceland for my next trip!

  3. Jordan Muela Reply

    Love the idea about sub-reddits. Context is everything when travelling abroad. I got a ton of mileage from the last time I was in central America.

  4. Derek Reply

    My wife and I are traveling to Napa in a few months; will definitely keep these in mind. Our next destination after that is Cost Rica!

  5. Yvon Reply

    Love the tips, especially the dollar bill ones. People are always trying to help you out and you don’t want to seem rude and empty handed; at the same time you don’t want to be hitting people off with $10’s and 20’s.

    I particularly want to travel to (DR) Dominican Republic and use Couchsurfing to visit places that the locals know and love.

  6. Noah Reply

    I’m definitely a fan of Tip #3. Some people overlook hotels as just a place to sleep, but it’s really a great place to freshen up and re-energize before taking on the rest of your day.

    My next tip will definitely be to Thailand… it’s been a long time coming!

  7. J. Trimble Reply

    I learned that an afternoon at a port is no way to really experience a place after a cruise to Freeport and Nassau.

    My Fiance and I are planning a extended Europe trip, with a good long stay in Italy.

  8. Jenny T Reply

    I’m spending a week on my own in Zermeet, Switzerland in July while my boyfriend climbs the Matterhorn.

    I’ve never traveled on my own and I’m a sissy about just getting out and exploring. Give me an assignment!

  9. Catriona Brown Reply

    Driven by filial responsibility I am forced to visit London, Bangkok and Ubud on my next trip in June, I am just back from a weekend jaunt to Havana. My mojitos are getting close to perfect.

    I long for the day I can close my eyes, stick a pin in the world map and hope it is somewhere I have never been! And just go…

  10. Tom Reply

    Love the Lonely Planet tip! I might go so far as to print up some business cards! Loved the tuxedo video as well!

    Currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but desperately want to visit Bhutan.

  11. Aris Reply

    I’d like to go to Southeast Asia for my next backpacking trip.

    I like tip #4, wish I thought of that when I was backpacking for 4,5 months in South America, I missed out on all the complimentary services and upgrades they would shower over me 🙁

    Great blog and newsletter, keep it up!

  12. Dave Reply

    50 Euros was about 100 bucks. More than a minor obsession. haha

    Another tip is to make color copies of your passport and put them in different spots (Rental car glove box, suitcase that you leave in the room and one on you etc.).
    Some hotels in Europe keep your passport at the front desk while you are staying with them.
    My wife had her purse stolen in Switzerland and had all of her ID in it, what a nightmare.

    This article was great. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jennifer Reply

    I’m heading out to Scotland for my next out of country travel. But before that I’m heading back to the heartland (and my home state), Kansas!

  14. Becky Hall Reply

    Just got back from Germany and France – this would have been great. Next stops this year are U.S. mainland, but I really want to go see the Alhambra in Spain!

  15. Yael Grauer Reply

    The Lonely Planet tip is evil! I did some work as a food blogger and noticed the service massively changing when people put 2+2 together (usually when we took photos of food). It always made me so sad–people should provide good service to everyone, not just food bloggers. (And readers of rave reviews don’t deserve shitty service either.)

    Anyway, I digress. I think my next trip will be to see family in Costa Rica, though I’m also planning a trip to Alaska.

    Cool hacks.

  16. Eric Reply

    Great tip regarding the singles, I hardly ever carry cash and will certainly have to keep some sort of spy/mobster stash handy in the future for quick exits.

    My wife and I will be traveling to Hawaii for a belated (2 years) honeymoon. Our plans of traveling to eastern Germany and down through northern Italy were put on hold when we found out we would be having a daughter this year, hopefully all three of us can make the trip in the future.

  17. George Reply

    Noah, great travel tips! I hope to get a Scandanvian trip done in my life and a bag like the Aeronaut looks like the perfect bag for the trip! I know I could do a 2-week vaca with it, but doubt my GF could travel for more than an overnight with it, hahaha!
    Sake bombs!

  18. Ho Reply

    Mmmmm… Sake… now that you mention it, would love to go back to Japan and revisit all the little Isakayas… Sakes tasting!

  19. Felicia Reply

    Next up on the agenda is a trek around the base of the Himalayas. Dad just got back from alpine school in Ecuador and hopefully I can convince him to go with me.

  20. Kathy Reply

    Thanks for an incredible article, I would love to travel back to parts of China to see all the different terrain.


  21. Kevin Reply

    Nice post Noah and glad you had a good time–Loved the luggage!

    If I was going to go anywhere tomorrow it would be Columbia. Some of my best friends live there and the country is supposed to be amazing (and Anthony Bourdain loves it. Check out his episode when he visited).

    Good friends and an interesting new place to explore–what could be better?

  22. Alexis Reply

    This year was Istanbul, next year is Peru and Machu Picchu.

    Your tip about visiting 2 stores is great. I fall into the trap of visiting as many stores as I can to find the cheapest price and eventually just give up buying things because I’m exhausted by it.

  23. Carter Reply

    Already booked flights to Jamaica in August 🙂

    It’s been a long time coming; one of my best friends was born their and her parents have a vacation home in Montego Bay. Winning all the way around.

    We will have someone who knows the island, a nice and affordable place to stay all week, and every little thing is gonna be alright 🙂

    By the way, my wife made me a believer of #1. People pay more attention to you when you’re dressed nice.

    Always been a fan of #3, they cater to tourists and know their stuff!

    And this time around we are using a pseudo-#8! Looking forward to using some of the other ideas too 🙂

  24. Trevor Reply

    Been thinking about heading back to Vienna and also hitting up Luxembourg.

    Nice clothes always help. Even in the US and the valley you can get better treatment.

  25. Eric Barstow Reply

    Costa Rica or Nicaragua in November. India is on the list, along with Thailand, Vietnam, etc… Haven’t made it to the Asian countries yet.

  26. Vega Reply

    LOVE the video you posted by Ikrima!
    I would love for my next trip to be to Australia. I really want to experience their outdoors, beaches, and they have a great indie music scene!

  27. Udi Reply

    Great post! I’m going to China for a month in September and would love to gear up with cool useful stuff 🙂

  28. George Reply

    I guess I’m likely. I may have to go to India to visit my wife’s family at some point this year. These tips have been helpful. Thanks!

  29. Ram Reply

    Reading travel stories makes me want to travel to whichever place the story/article is about; even when I have already been there since everyone’s experience is unique and I learn more about the place even when I have been there previously.
    I was born in India, yet there is so much to experience in India yet – a zillion countries within a country it is! and then then there is Europe, South America, Africa,…. the list goes on. By the time I finish these, I hear planet hopping will be in style 🙂
    And yes! the right travel accessories make trips a whole lot better!

  30. Hoon Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go to Dubai. The looooong flight worries me some, but I think that would be a really neat place to visit.

  31. Amber Reply

    Great tips! There are so many different places I want to visit outside the US that I can’t decide where I want to go first. In the US, i plan on going to see my best friend in florida as soon as I get the chance. I haven’ seen her in 2 years. 🙁

  32. Grant Reply

    Isla Mujeres, Mexico this summer. But, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, France, and Prague are on the list (probably in that order). Oh, sneaking into Cuba like Neville is also in there somewhere.

  33. Kyle Reply

    Thailand! Did you get any Indian sideways head nods when they didn’t want to answer your question or you were negotiating the price of something? The Lonely Planet idea is solid.

  34. Tim Lewis Reply

    I have never been out of the U.S. but I have always been a Japanophile and I would love to go to Tokyo just once!

  35. Chris Reply

    I would like to take my Mom to Italy. She has always wanted to travel but has never had the opportunity (dad was afraid to fly).

    Actually I would like to take my Wife to Italy but bring my Mom along. Then I would need someone to watch my dog so I guess it’s just me and my wife. Although by winning a bag I could afford to board the dog for a week or two. So if I win all three of us can go and if I don’t my Mother will never see Italy. 🙂

    Thanks for the great tips and articles!

  36. Adam Reply

    I’d like to go to Okinawa, Japan and visit a village called Ogimi, where they have the longest reported lifespans anywhere in the world!

  37. Tara Phelps Reply

    My Joomla developer has repeatedly told me I need to get down to Brazil (where he’s based) during Carnivale next year….

    Might be nice to meet in person rather than via Skype!

    I can only imagine the fun THAT would be…

  38. Lara Reply

    Hoping to visit Africa in the next couple of years; am very appreciative of any and all travel tips, because currently I am unable to navigate airports, buses, etc. without looking like a cross between “Mr. Bean” and a Seinfeld character from “The Airport” episode.

  39. Reuben Reply

    I really want to go to some Greek Islands. The stark white sand and blue waters there look amazing. I guess pretty much anywhere with white sandy beaches would be fine. Some other places on my list:
    New Zealand, US Virgin Islands.

  40. aaron Reply

    I want to do a south america adventure for several months. I would start in colombia and make my way around through brazil, the amazon, peru, argentina, and chile. You bet I will be couchsurfing.

  41. Sherry W. Reply

    Tom Bihn giveaway? Woohoo! I’d love that Aeronaut to use for my MFA writing residency in Tacoma, in August. After 30 years, I’m going back to school.

  42. Alex Reply

    I am heading to Pitcairn Islands in 4 months.

    It’s the smallest country in the world with a population less than 50 (no not thousand… just FIFTY).

    The island is remote and I need to hop 2 vessels just to get there so it’s going to be a pretty long trip and I hope some of this Tom Bihn gear makes it easier!

    If I win I will try to overthrow the existing government and will name my firstborn prince after you Noah.


  43. Farrell S. Reply

    Rad hacks.

    I got a ticket to NYC (first visit), and I’m going to try these hacks. I wanna visit Thailand so I could say, “I took on Bangkok and won!”

  44. Kathy Forred Reply

    I’m taking a 3 generation trip (me, daughter and granddaughter) to Paris and Bavaria later this month. Revisiting some old haunts, and, hopefully, finding some new ones.

  45. Jack Reply

    **Make sure to have a Schwab (or similar) credit card that has no ridiculous abroad fees (and have one or two additional credit cards). Also bring cashiers checks and put them somewhere safe in case someone robs you of your cash/credit cards.

  46. Stephen Reply

    Looking to get lost in Tokyo. Love all their “specialist” food and beverage joints where they do one thing and excel at it.

  47. Tim Reply

    Italy. Have done France for the Tour de France 3 times and it’s now time for the Dolomites (Stelvio) and Lake Como and Amalfi cost. And Sicily.

    For our honeymoon would be great (but we’ll likely end up in Phuket – we live in Australia).

  48. Hans Reply

    Very nice list, I will try some points of it on my next trip. Especially trip only in a tuxedo sounds nice 🙂
    My next destination is southern Spain, it is just too cold here in Germany.

  49. Luke Freeman Reply

    I LOVE the tuxedo idea!!

    Also, your lightweight packing is something I’d like to teach my wife 😉

    She has never been to Europe so a 6 week+ or a move to Europe is definitely on our mid-term bucket list. In the meantime we’re getting to see more Australia.

  50. Rhett Reply

    My wife and I haven’t been overseas for 12 years, but we really want to visit Paris and Prauge. After that, we plan to take our kids to as many National Parks as possible over the next 16-17 years.

  51. Jenny Goat Reply

    I was “Made in Thailand”, yet born in the USA. Due to Jerry Springer-worthy twists of fate, I only met my Thai relatives once briefly here in the United States at the age of 36. I’d go to Thailand and stay at my Uncle Noi’s house in Udorn and eat all the amazing Thai food I can cram into my face.

  52. WendyK Reply

    I’m going to Paris in June so these tips are very useful! I’d really love to visit Greece but that will have to wait until things settle down there.

  53. Morgan Reply

    A trip to the jungles of south america, horseback riding thru some mayan ruins, then taking a catamaran to the largest reef in the western hemisphere to snorkle with rays.

  54. AdamKi Reply

    I want to go back to New Zealand. I haven’t been able to see nearly enough of it but what I have seen is amazing.

  55. Martin Reply

    I’m going (with or without a bag…but with would be SO MUCH BETTER) to New York City with hopefully just enough clothes, diabetes supplies, technology, and toiletries to stay styling, alive, productive, and just this side of smelling like a foot. An aeronaut bag would be an awesome help!

  56. Steven Chan Reply

    Awesome seeing your blog unfold, Noah. I’m going to hit a cruise to Mexico next. It’s a way to turn off the brain cells, have everything taken care of, and unwind!

  57. Mel Reply

    I’d love to go to Australia next.
    But I have three young kids so that’s as likely as a calm family trip to the supermarket.

  58. Ikers Reply

    Antarctica! I’m on a mission to visit every continent.

    Also, on the list: Budapest, Prague, St. Petersburg, Morocco, and Istanbul, not Constantinople.

    Oh, and the lake where you can swim with the jellyfish that don’t sting!

  59. Saverio Reply

    Southern Italy! Mountains, beaches, and family I’ve yet to meet in person. Plus Mediterranean girls are !!!

  60. Dan Reply

    I want to go to St. Petersburg! (there’s an excellent conference happening there during the summer… and besides, palaces!)

  61. Richard Reply

    I’ve realized at 51 that the clock is ticking faster,one must taste what this blue marble in space has to offer,and travel is my ticket.
    Even tho I have a very tight budget,I will make my dream come true!

  62. Chris Reply

    Just got back from Ethiopia in late February…amazing trip! Great culture. Interesting history and the (you do know that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee,right?)

  63. Dan Barrett Reply

    This is the dream trip I’ve been planning for some time:

    – Fly into Hong Kong
    – Boat to mainland
    – Hope on the Mongolian Express
    – Hike the Deserts of Mongolia, which are ringed with ice
    – Take Mongolian Express to Tibet
    – Hike to Everest Base Camp
    – See world’s highest Buddhist Monastery

    Yeah man.

  64. Rick Reply

    My girlfriend and I are wanting to checkout Prague. She has traveled all over the world. I have barely been able to get away from the east coast of the USA. (crossed the Mississippi twice to go to Vegas)

  65. Rebecca Britt Reply

    g’day Mate! I’m wanting to head to Australia to locate settings from Arthur Upfield’s “Bony” mystery books. Lake Eyre, Wilcannia, the Grampians. The list goes on and on!

  66. Viral Reply

    I’ll be going to India in June, but I really want to tour Europe. Spain, France, England, and Italy would be awesome.

  67. vega Reply

    Here’s a hack I learned from traveling a bunch past couple years…
    If your hotel has a gym/fitness center, they usually have bottled waters & apples/bananas & related items for you to take (for free).

    So if you’re thirsty or want a quick snack, get from the gym instead of paying for the $6-10 bottle water in your room.

    Cheers 🙂

  68. Will Reply

    I want to go to more of South America! My wife is from Chile and I’ve been to Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil (with 9-hour layover in Columbia during which we got a hotel room).

    I really want to go to Ecuador.
    I don’t really want to go to Venezuela.

  69. Chris Reply

    Hitting Mt. Whitney this fall. This would be a great companion on that trip.

    Thanks for the travel tips also. Good, good stuff.

  70. Lindsey S. Nagy Reply

    This message is for * Dan Barrett * (commenter from this post: April 10th – 11:49 timestamp)…

    Your trip sounds pretty cool. I would like to take that one, too! I actually just spoke with my close friends from about helping you to make this “dream trip” a reality…
    “Willing Foot” and “Lisa Lindblad Travel Design” (both in Manhattan – close friends of mine) have pieces of your trip they can arrange with the others for purchase c/o their existing relationships in China. They would definitely appreciate speaking with you about coordinating this trip so feel free to contact them via their site (and let them know I sent you)! Good luck!

    PS: Noah – is another startup NAGY VENTURES has helped grow…they really offer cool packages to meet the needs of any traveler with a decent budget. Not sure if it’s for AppSumo or not, but if it’s of interest to you or anyone – just let me know. More than happy to make the intro – great people who know their stuff. 🙂

  71. Andre Reply


    But on another note, if you ever make it to Oregon, check out SakeOne, they’re one of few sake breweries in the US, and you’ll learn everything/anything about sake. Bring a DD too. 🙂

  72. Jesper Hultqvist Reply

    Great advice! But I don’t agree 100 percent with tip no 2 about bringing snacks or candies for the kids. Think twice before you give kids sweets: On a recent trip to Peru some of our group was doing this until a tour guide intervened, saying: “Please don’t do that. These kids don’t have toothbrushes so you are just helping them get bad teeth.” In my book that’s good thinking!


  73. Mark Eichenlaub Reply

    Noah, I might have missed it but is part of doing this kind of traveling to tackle things that are uncomfortable or is this the end result of the work you do and the goal all along?

  74. Chris Reply

    Hello Noah,

    I won! Hot damn tamale. Thank you and thank to the fine folks over at Tom Bihn for offering up such a cool prize. Now the pressures on to get a trip planned for Italy.

    I will be sure to continue to spread the word about your site and let everyone I know to know to check out Tom Bihn.

    Thanks again.
    Have a Mighty Fine Day!

  75. Walt W Reply

    Lonely Planet pocket books are key. I have been to 35 countries and they are a life saver. Will try the “I work at LP” on my next trip. As I surely can’t tell them that I’m Rick Steves if in Europe.

    Agree on the hotels. If you have a status with any particular hotel you can always flash that around even if you are not staying at one. I’m a Marriott Platinum and often got free breakfast or access to concierge lounge at hotels I was not even staying at just buy stating who and what I was and would they mind giving me short access to X,Y or Z.

    I was racing to drop off a Hertz car in Dijon France to catch a train to Switzerland and left my wallet in the car. Thank god I keep Passport, cash, extra debit card and extra credit card together separate from wallet. That way if you lose one or the other you are still ok. I take photos of all IDs and credit cards and email it to myself so I can have access to any of that info from any internet cafe in the world. A backup photo copy of your Passport can be key. Now with Google Wallet that can help too.

    I have a Targus world adapter which is key.

    My buddy took a the trans siberian rail road from Hong Kong all the way to London over a few month period. He couch surfed the whole way on the trip. Said it rocked. He would always have a guide and an interpreter.

    A portable small packet of tissues/toilet paper can be huge.

    Northface pants that have zippers and can turn into shorts are key they are windproof, light, and you can quickly turn into shorts or pants as needed.

    BUY quality socks. Don’t cheap out on socks. Finding places that do your laundry for you is key too. You can pack way less and then just drop off your dirties. Then a few hours later pick it up cleaned and neatly folded. Usually they operate by weight and are worth theirs in gold.


  76. Bradley Reply

    To upgrade hack #2, opt to bring a pack of pens (grab em free from trade shows if you can) or pencils for the kids. Might seem lame as a westerner, but in some areas pens/pencils are scarce.

    You can see a kids face light up as they start imagine all the sweet stuff they will doodle.

  77. sophie Reply

    Not so healthy trick? I always have cigarettes on me while travelling in India or China. To give them away when speaking to someone (china, men mostly) so you get plenty of right information, or to smoke on a sidewalk and show you’re not in a rush and willing to pay too much for a rickshaw (thank u india, blabla)

    That would always make the bargaining easier and get more accurate information on where to go!


  78. Kate Reply

    you reminded me of me…back when I was searching, sorting through my purpose, my birth order and the how come what they do matters…then I realized my travel dreams are really about being ‘present’ right where I am, right here, right now with others, with pets and with nature…awesome, aha moment…
    Now I’m traveling the streets with the Paws…ready to go…anywhere with my dog by my side….