28 Travel Hacks for Summer
Hack your way to the best vacation ever.
You’ve budgeted, planned and looked forward to your summer travel plans all year long, and now it’s time to enjoy it. Don’t let a bad sunburn, a poorly packed bag or a lost key ruin the trip you’ve worked so hard for. Read about some of our favorite travel tips and then click through the galleries to see all 28 hacks.
From family trips to romantic honeymoons, there’s a cruise line or ship for every type of trip you could imagine, but some travelers are hesitant to jump on the cruise train – or “ship” I should say. Common concerns for first-timers are the possibility of seasickness, added costs of alcohol packages and limited Internet access. Use these tips for a carefree cruise.
Although seasickness is very unlikely on a large cruise ship, it's better to be safe than sorry. Fend off nausea with ginger. Bring your own ginger or nausea medicine like Dramamine if you think you might need something stronger. If you wait to buy it at the infirmary on the cruise, you'll pay a steep price.
BYOW (bring your own wine). Several cruise lines will let you bring a bottle or two, but check their policies beforehand. Bringing your own wine is a great option if you only plan on drinking a few glasses and know that you wouldn't get your money's worth with the available alcohol packages.
Be realistic about how much you plan on using the Internet. You may think you'll want to disconnect completely, but let's be honest, you'll probably want to share pictures of your fabulous vacation on social media. Look into what Internet packages the cruise line offers prior to arriving to avoid overspending.
Nothing ruins a beach trip like a blistering sunburn. If you forget to bring aloe, see if the coffee bar in your hotel room has Earl Grey tea, which is a great substitute for treating a bad burn.
Love digging your toes in the sand but hate when your car becomes a sandbox as a result? Bring baby powder in your beach bag. The powder draws out moisture, so lightly dusting it on the sandy area of your body will make it brush off super easily.
If you’re popping bottles on vacation, save the corks! Instead of bringing a key chain with all of your keys to the beach, only bring your car key and/or a key to the place you’re staying. Screw an eye hook into the cork and attach the essential key. You’re less likely to lose it, and if it you accidentally take it into the ocean with you, the cork with serve as a buoy.
Theme Park Hacks
I love a good roller coaster, but I often find the thrill is short lived and outweighed by large crowds, long lines, sweltering heat and overpriced food. Combating these cons with a few hacks can make a theme park visit much more enjoyable, and you'll go home remembering the adrenaline-pumping moments instead of the time spent in long lines.
Don't let rain ruin your visit. Bring plastic ponchos in case of summer showers. Use the time to get a snack, shop for souvenirs or visit indoor attractions until the sun returns.
Follow theme park accounts on social media and sign up for their newsletters to be the first to know about promotions to get the best deal on tickets.
If the park has an app, download it. Apps like My Disney Experience have interactive maps, wait times and a bathroom locator.
Save Money by Bringing Your Own WineSherry Kennedy, founder of Cruise Maven, says some lines will allow a bottle or two in your cabin, but be sure to check the cruise line’s alcohol policy in advance. Most lines only allow it during embarkation day. Also, don’t forget to bring a bottle opener, or choose wine with a twist-off top to avoid paying a corkage fee.
Conversely, Kennedy says the least expensive wine package can be worth it, especially “if you don’t want to spend the $20 corkage fee on a $10 bottle of wine.” Even better, the waiter can save any leftover wine by noting your name and room number, and you can enjoy it at another meal at any of the ship’s dining venues. 960 1280
Don’t Feel Obligated to Book a Shore Excursion Through the ShipExperts agree that independent operators are often cheaper and can provide a more in-depth experience. Stewart Chiron, founder of The Cruise Guy, even advises leaving the ship for a night in order to experience a city. For example, on a Mediterranean cruise, he advises getting off in Livorno in order to spend a full day and night in Florence. From there, one can take a train to Rome to catch up with the ship. “It saves an hour and a half return from Florence,” he says. Of course, book the hotel in advance.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor in chief of Cruise Critic, also suggests connecting with other passengers beforehand in order to save money on an independent tour. Her site offers a section called Roll Call, which allows passengers who have already booked a cruise to chat up to a year before the sailing. Doing so facilitates finding others to share excursions, like chartering a catamaran from St. Thomas to St. John. “I think those experiences tend to be more special than getting on a catamaran with 50 people you don’t know,” she says. 960 1280
Avoid Paying High Rates to Connect to the InternetIn order to avoid spending 75 cents a minute to get online, Kennedy suggests buying a package to save money. For example, Carnival offers a social media package (which includes access to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more) for just $5/day. While in port, she recommends asking (or following) crew members to find the best Internet cafes. 960 1280
Ask for Ginger if You Feel SeasickThe odds of getting seasick on a large cruise ship are low, but it's good to be prepared just in case. Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy to treat nausea and motion sickness. Kennedy says that many ships, including Norwegian, Holland America and Princess, will provide it for free in their restaurants. (Although some ships will charge you.) Luckily candied ginger and gum are also easy to find at many supermarkets if you'd rather bring it with you.
If you suspect you might need something stronger, consider bringing Bonine, Dramamine or motion sickness patches to avoid paying higher prices at the infirmary.
Compare Rates Through a Travel AgentChiron notes that agents can score upgrades that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. He says they can also help select the best cabin location, such as a quiet room in the forward of the ship instead of below the pool deck. Kennedy adds that agents often have access to discounts and perks that cruise line reservations don’t know about, such as onboard credits, a free bottle of wine or bathrobes, and even complimentary dining in a specialty restaurant. 960 1280
Do Your Laundry for a Flat RateKennedy says that most lines offer a flat rate for doing laundry toward the end of a cruise — think as much dirty laundry as you can stuff in the bag provided. However, if you need to do laundry sooner, both Holland America and Cunard offer free self-service laundry machines and detergent. 960 1280
Wait Until the Last Day of a Cruise to ShopKennedy says this is when you get the best shopping deals onboard a ship, especially if it's at the end of a season. For example, on a past cruise she bought sweatshirts that were reduced from $59 to $7. 960 1280
Book Your Next Cruise Before Leaving the ShipKennedy says this is another great way to save money. For example, Cunard will provide up to $300 in onboard credit to spend on your next cruise. Don’t forget to ask about any available promotions at the time of booking. 960 1280
Cruises 10 Photos
Take Advantage of Free Fast PassesWith any park admission, Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer free FastPass+ tickets that allow you to skip the lines and schedule exactly when you want to ride the park’s most popular attractions. Most park visiters grab a ticket for these once in the park but, you can actually reserve these 30 days before you set foot in the park and 60 if you’re staying at one of the park resorts. This perk is limited to three rides a day so we recommend the using your passes on the three mountains in Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. 960 1280
Don't Let Rain Spoil Your TripIf you're visiting any of the major parks in Orlando, be prepared for afternoon showers no matter the season. A lot of visitors leave during this time but any Florida native knows that in half an hour the sun will be back. Keep a poncho on hand and use the time to shop, get a snack or visit popular characters indoors. 960 1280
Follow Parks on Social MediaFollow your favorite theme parks on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to their newsletters so you don’t miss out on flash sales like discounted tickets and deals on dining and park hotels. Social media fans are also the first to know about new attractions and shows like Walt Disney World's new Star Wars additions. 960 1280
Learn From the Super FansPlan your trip based on tips and reviews from other park fans on community websites like Theme Park Review or Ultimate Roller Coaster and vacation planning blogs like Orlando Informer and Theme Park Insider. Listen to WDW Radio or one of the many amusement park-themed podcasts for advice on best times to visit the parks and can't-miss events like Harry Potter fan weekends at Universal Studios. 960 1280
Buy in AdvanceYou’re much better off buying theme park tickets in advance than by burning park time waiting in lines at the entrance. Pre-purchasing can also give you access to discount codes and seasonal specials. While it may be tempting, never buy tickets from sellers on Craigslist or eBay. There’s nothing worse than explaining the concept of “counterfeit” to your six-year-old. 960 1280
Best Deals for SouvenirsYou're going to pay top dollar at shops inside the parks, especially items like stuffed animals and T-shirts. Opt for outlet stores outside the park like Disney Springs in Orlando. You can also order souveniers from many major theme parks online to skip the hassle of hauling items around the park all day. 960 1280
Theme Parks 10 Photos
Put a Cork in ItLeave your key ring at home and take just your house, condo or car key to the shore. Tip: Screw an eyehook into an old wine cork and attach the crucial key to it. If you accidentally take it into the surf, you’ll have a buoy and a good story instead of a locksmith referral. 960 1280
The Right FitTraditional beach blankets have a habit of mutating into mainsails during an onshore gust. Instead, take an old bed sheet (fitted is best) and fill the corners with sand to keep it on the ground where it belongs. If the local municipality permits, further stabilize your foundation with an iced bucket of beer or bubbly. 960 1280
Sound the UV AlarmIt’s easy to lose track of time at the beach, but you need to stay alert to avoid getting sunburn. Set the timer on your phone or, for a more stylish setup, score a cute alarm clock at the thrift store (or a modern knock-off) and set it for a wake-up call. Your dermatologist will thank you. 960 1280
A Spot of TeaIf you forgot the sunscreen and wound up scorched, Earl Grey can help. Black tea contains tannic acid, which is one of the most effective ways to treat sunburn. Brew a few cups of strong tea, let cool and apply with cotton balls, or just apply the teabag directly to the affected area. 960 1280
Beaches 9 Photos