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25+ insider travel tips & tricks: what we’ve learned about travelling

With over 200 employees from over 35 nations (Thailand to Ireland; The Philippines to France), Skyscanner is a well-travelled company. Between us, we’ve visited almost every country in the world.

So we asked our staff, from the CEO to our interns, for their nuggets of wisdom they’ve picked up on the road. From the philosophical to the funny, the serious to the silly, Skyscanner presents our list of learnings from travelling the world.

UPDATED 6 MARCH 2014

Practical Travel Tips and Advice

1. Pack less

Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal. Do you really need six pairs of heels, tea bags, and an iron? Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around). More: 7 best hand-luggage bags
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor

2. Leave the guidebook at home

Rather than taking your entire copy of the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet, just photocopy the pages you need, then discard after you have used them. Saves space and weight.
James Teideman, Skyscanner Marketing Communications Executive

3. Never join the security queue with kids in

Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker.
Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer

4. Never wear flip flops (on a plane)

I used to work for an airline and we were told never to wear sandals on board an aircraft. In the unlikely event of an emergency, it’s best to have a good set of sturdy shoes that will protect your feet from heat or sharp objects.
Matthew Smith, Skyscanner Content Partnership Executive

5. Jiggle it (just a little bit)

If you’re petrified of turbulence during flights, try slightly jiggling your body when you hit some rough air. No one will notice because everyone is being moved around due to the aircraft movement. Sounds a little crazy but your movement will counteract that of the aircraft and you won’t feel the turbulence so much. It really does work!
Jamie Wortley, Skyscanner PR Consultant

6. Choose your seat-mate carefully

If you get the choice of plane seat, always sit far away from: babies, groups of friends who will chat, or women (men tend to need the toilet less often than ladies). More: REVEALED: the perfect plane seat
Miss Evodie Fleury, Skyscanner Market Development Assistant, France

7. Learn a little lingo

Memorise a handful of words of the local language, and have the courage to use them! It’s amazing how just a few words will go a long way; locals tend to warm to those who have made the effort to communicate with them in their own tongue. More: 7 secrets of learning a language fast
Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director

8. Keep your mouth shut

If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower.
Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager

9. Hotels are not the only fruit

Staying in a hotel when you’re on holiday is not the only option. Or in a hostel for that matter. Apartments or rooms in private homes are where the savvy travellers rest their heads these days.
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor

10. Ditch your friends

Travelling all by your lonesome might seem daunting at first, but it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself in the travel experience. I’ve met friends for life, learnt a new language, and had amazing experiences by travelling solo. More: 10 tips for travelling solo
Victoria Bailie, Skyscanner PR Manager

11. Always travel in a hoodie

They may have become the uniform of unruly ASBO-teenagers, but hooded tops make excellent travel garments. Just slip up your hood to retreat from the world of noise and light when you want to sleep on a flight/airport seat/bus.
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor

12. Choose the Asian-vegetarian option on the plane

You get fed before anyone else, you avoid anything too greasy and stodgy (helps the jetlag allegedly) and I’m convinced the more niche meals are much better quality as they’re made in smaller batches.
Victoria Baillie, Skyscanner PR Manager

13. Bring ear plugs

If silence is golden, then ear plugs are worth their weight in platinum. Being able to sleep in a noisy plane or hotel room is a very valuable skill, not to be underestimated whilst travelling.
Laura Wilson, Skyscanner Search Marketing Manager

14. Pre-book an airport lounge

If you’re flying long-haul, pre-book yourself into an airport lounge. There’s an up-front fee, but it provides a quiet environment with complimentary drinks, food, magazines, newspapers, WiFi etc. When you leave the lounge, take a few big bottles of water. It’s a cost effective and relaxing way to start your journey.
Philippa Waygood, Skyscanner Training Co-ordinator

15. Bring an internet ready device

If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs
Eileen Ogg, Skyscanner Artworker

16. Bring an extra top on board

When flying (especially long haul) always travel with an extra top as the blankets they provide are thin and the plane can get very cold.
Clare McMonagle, Skyscanner Graphic Designer

17. Always bring a sarong

They’re light and multifunctional: something to lie on at the beach, a cover for when you’re cold, a towel, a curtain, a skirt, a dress, even an emergency bandage.
Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager

18. Bring a DVD player for the kids

When flying with small children, bring a laptop/DVD player/tablet. Cartoons and movies while away a sizeable chunk of the flight and allow parents some downtime too. More: 10 tips for flying with kids
Mary Porter, Skyscanner PR Manager

19. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones

For the perfect long-haul trip, invest in some good quality noise cancelling headphones. The price tags are hefty, but they are worth every penny to tune out the crying baby, snoring man, or chattering teenagers.
Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director

Listen to our ‘How to Make Flying Fun’ podcast:

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/71682657&?

20. Kindles are made for travel

I never travel without my Kindle. No more lugging multiple books around whilst waiting to exchange them with other travellers. This may have been a ‘charming’ part of travelling, but not when every book exchange turns up nothing but books in German! More: Will Kindle kill the paperback? Pros and cons of e-readers
Eileen Ogg, Skyscanner Artworker

21. Look before you leave

Whenever you get up to leave somewhere, be it a chair at the airport, a café, or a bar, always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind.
Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager

22. Roll your clothes when packing

Once you roll, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to fold. More: How to travel with hand-luggage only
Louise McCloy, Skyscanner Search Marketing Executive

23. Use body language

When there’s a language barrier, shouting in your own language is not going to get you far. Instead, use your body. It’s the most international language in the entire world. Don’t forget to translate a full stop with a smile.
Tika Larasati, Skyscanner Market Development Manager, Indonesia

Say it with sign language – watch our video below:

tp://www.youtube.com/embed/3khTuveO2xg

24. Bring a money belt AND a wallet

There’s a dual purpose to this: if you get mugged you can calmly hand over the wallet and carry on your holiday with minimum hassle. If you meet new friends, use the wallet, as it can be a bit insulting to go into a money belt to pay for your beers.
David Wilson, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer

25. Never exchange money in your hotel

Instead, shop around for best rate. Find a credit/debit card that doesn’t charge for purchases abroad, and don’t bother with traveller’s cheques anymore. More: 10 secrets of foreign currency exchange
Cat McGloin, Skyscanner PR Assistant

26. Don’t carry (too much) cash

I can’t remember visiting a country in the last 10 years that doesn’t have ATMs, so there’s really no need to carry about more cash than you need for a couple of days.
Charlie Pank, Skyscanner Senior Software Engineer

27. Pack a pack of cards

A game of cards is not only useful to while away the hours during the inevitable delays, but also a great cross- cultural barrier breaker.
Andy Sleigh, Skyscanner General Manager, APAC

28. Get a guide

When visiting cultural monuments, always take the offer of a local guide. It will open your eyes to so much more than if you try and go it alone or just use a guide book.
Andy Sleigh, Skyscanner General Manager, APAC

29. Be flexible

The more flexible you can be with your travel plans, the more money you’ll save (you’ll be able to travel at cheaper times and get better rates). Use Skyscanner’s handy month charts to find the cheapest days to fly in any given month. More: 20 money saving travel tips and secrets
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor

30. Sync your sleep

To get over jetlag quickly on arrival, try to sync your sleeping pattern with the new time zone immediately. More: How to avoid jet lag
Kirsty Donnelly, Skyscanner Recruitment Assistant

31. Get travel insurance

Always take out travel insurance (and don’t rely on credit card insurance alone). It sounds obvious but lots of people don’t bother, and end up losing a lot of money when things go wrong. More: 10 ways to void your travel insurance
Philippa Waygood, Skyscanner Training Co-ordinator

32. Be loyal

If you’re looking for ways to get a flight upgrade, then join the airline’s loyalty programme. Even if it’s the lowest level, you still get rewarded first. More: 15 ways to get a flight upgrade
Ewan Gray, Skyscanner Director Sales and Business Development, APAC

33. Tiger Balm is medicine of the gods

This Singaporean-made balm not only soothes sore muscles after a lot of travelling but also works as an insect repellent to keep the little biting beasties away. More: World’s worst biting bugs: how to avoid insect attack
Louise McCloy, Skyscanner Search Marketing Executive

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Rohit Sharma is an author of several Travelling Blogs and Magazines. Rohit Sharma is a regular contributor to sites on topics like Travelling, Domestics Travel and International Travels.