Some of us haven’t travelled in quite a while, while others have been lucky enough to drag a suitcase out the door, only to realise they’re not the same seasoned traveller they used to be. That’s fine, it happens even to the best of us.
As we slowly adjust ourselves to being our free-spirited, travelling selves once again, here are some travel tips you can actually use to make that process smoother.
Pre-trip travel tips
1. Keep tabs on Google Flight
Flight tickets are rather pricey post-pandemic, thanks to the surge in revenge travelling demands. But thanks also to this one TikTok user, we now know how to find the lowest prices for our flights.
All you have to do on Google Flights is leave your search parameters for your travel dates empty. That way, the search results will bring up the lowest possible priced ticket from a period of time.
Granted, most of us have fixed dates for travelling. But if you happen to have some flexibility, why not try this travel hack out? Simply type Google Flights on the web browser or the Google mobile app and start looking for cheap flight tickets!
2. Plan for your trip with handy phone apps
Planning can feel kind of overwhelming, especially when information is scattered across the place. Fortunately, there’s this wonderful itinerary-planning app called Wanderlog.
All you have to do is plug in all the places you’d like to visit and it’ll optimise a route for you. A great travel tip, no? But there's more. It also allows you to add collaborators, so the whole gang can plan the trip together.
To settle the problem of budgeting, there’s also an app called Splitwise. It is a tool for you and your travel buddies to keep track of shared expenses in various currencies, and helps you tally how much everyone owes, and to who!
The Changi App is another great addition to your arsenal. The app comes with a full suite of travel services, such as real-time updates on your flight, airport guides, the ability to buy last-minute travel insurance, and even pre-plan and buy tickets to the attractions and events at Changi Airport.
3. Check Visa requirements
Despite having the most powerful passport in the world, Singaporeans are still required to hold a valid visa before being allowed to enter some countries. Even several countries that previously didn't have such restrictions on Singaporeans have started implementing visa requirements post-pandemic.
Though a different name, Australia requires Singaporeans to apply for the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which costs AUD20 (S$18). This allows Singaporeans to freely enter within a 12-month period.
Meanwhile, a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is necessary for all Singaporeans looking to travel to Europe starting in 2024. It can be applied online and costs 7 Euros (S$10.30) for those aged between 18 and 70. The charge is waived for everyone else.
4. Curate a capsule wardrobe
As travellers, you either fall into the “Oh no, I’ve overpacked all these clothes that I won’t wear” camp, or the “shucks I didn’t pack enough and I’m wearing the same shirt-shorts combination for the entire trip” camp. Introducing the capsule wardrobe, a solution so simple you’d wish you knew of it sooner.
It’s basically a small selection of clothing that can be mixed and matched in many different ways to form different fits of the day. Think three tops, three bottoms, and you’ve instantly got nine outfits done and dusted. Your packing list need not be that long at all!
The main thing about a capsule wardrobe is that each item should be neutral-coloured and versatile enough to match most occasions. The last thing you’d want is to pair a flaming Cheeto-red pair of hot shorts with a jade-green chiffon blouse for a fancy dinner (you can but, why?)
And to help you on the organising side of things, consider packing cubes to segment your items neatly, so you can find them easily.
5. Download Google Maps for offline use
Technology can and will fail you, unfortunately. While a portable Wi-Fi router from Changi Recommends will always be there to support you, it's good to save your Google Maps offline so you don't have to worry if you find yourself in an area with no access to internet connectivity. The last thing you’d want on a long-awaited trip is to find yourself horribly lost with no signal to guide you home.
So how do you save offline Google Maps? Follow these steps:
Download Google Maps
Search for the location. Zoom in if needed.
Hit the 'Download Offline' button.
It’s not much different than an actual physical map (except for the ability to zoom in and out), but it sure beats being stranded in a foreign land.
The most important thing about this, though, is downloading the maps well in advance while having a good internet connection, as well as testing the maps before your trip. Just to ensure the maps actually work.
Useful tips when you're on your vacation
6. Avoid extra costs
For most places, cash is still king, but if you find yourself short on cash or making a big ticket purchase, paying by card is the way to go. Therein lies one problem—banks often charge an exorbitant foreign transaction fee when you use a credit card overseas. That’s where a travel credit card comes in.
Travel credit cards like YouTrip, Revolut and Trust not only provide better exchange rates, but they also come with extra security features to prevent thieves from swiping a bill on your tab. We’ve got a whole guide to choosing the right credit card for overseas spending to keep you well-informed.
There are also other hidden costs, like tourist tax. The actual amount differs between countries and is usually levied through accommodation providers. You’ll often see them charged as a percentage of the accommodation fees or as a flat rate. Some places charge additional cleaning fees too.
There’s not much you can do about those, but at the very least, keep an eye out for those while travelling, just so you’re not slapped with any unwanted surprises.
7. Google search your requests in the native language
Typing “best takoyaki” into Google Maps while in Japan will get you pretty good results. Typing “たこ焼き おすすめ” gets you even better results. The same goes for “onion soup” and “soupe à l’oignon” in France.
Usually, the places that do cater to English Google searches (and therefore, tourists) aren’t always the best ones out there. They might be good, but not the best. As the saying goes, if there are a lot of native customers, the food has got to be tight.
The places that don’t pop up until you search in the native language are also less likely to be tourist traps. Often you’ll find that the eateries that hand you an English menu would have a price markup—not that you’d actually notice it unless you can read the original menu and compare.
8. Do not use random USB stuff
Singapore’s great, safety-wise. We don’t have to think twice before plugging our phones into the USB ports on buses or using wires offered at charging stations. Overseas though, we can’t say the same.
USB connections can be used to either steal information from your device or transfer malicious malware into them. Sometimes they even track your location or record your conversations while the device is powered off. This rampant cybercrime has picked up even more, with the recent development of the O.MG cable.
It looks exactly like a normal USB cable, but it’s actually got an implant that allows it its own web server, Wi-Fi, keylogging and more. It’s capable of allowing the hacker to snoop through your data from afar. By the time you’re done charging your device, the hacker would’ve made their getaway, with no chance to get your information back.
As a travel tip, carry with you a portable powerbank so you only need to rely on it when your phone battery is running low.
9. Check duty-free regulations
Before you go shopping crazy in the airport (duty-free concessions, we get it), do note that not everything is allowed to be brought in, and not everything will be considered duty-free.
For starters, Singapore doesn’t offer duty-free concessions for anything brought in from Malaysia. In many countries, such as Australia, all tobacco and alcohol products aren’t given concessions too.
In a surprising turn of events, it was announced in 2022 that all passengers heading to European Union countries from Singapore aren’t allowed to carry duty-free liquids, aerosols and gels purchased outside of Singapore. Even if you do buy those at Changi Airport’s duty-free shops, you’re required to show proof of purchase before you’re allowed to bring them along. The same goes if you were entering America.
Just to be on the safe side, it’s advisable to check international duty-free restrictions before making your purchases.
Extra travel hacks
10. Invest in Airtags
Full disclosure: We’re not sponsored by Apple. This is just a tip too useful not to mention.
Even if you’ve got a luggage tag with your details on it, even if there’s a printed label on the luggage itself, both are worthless when it comes to tracking luggage down once it goes missing. Maybe someone took it by accident, or perhaps it got offloaded at the wrong airport, there’s a chance you might never find it.
To ensure you’ll always know where your luggage is, just slip an AirTag into the inner pockets and its location will always be known to you. While we hope your luggage never gets misplaced, the AirTag has proven itself useful in getting it back in one piece.
11. Pack duct tape (we're serious)
It’s versatile, it’s lightweight and it’s handy — there’s nothing duct tape can’t fix.
Duct tape might not look like the neatest fix, but when you’ve got a cracked luggage thanks to some rough handling, or when your shoe decides it’s time for its sole to depart, it’s better than nothing. At the very least, it’ll hold your things together until you can get to the nearest store to buy a replacement.
If you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re not using enough duct tape.
There are plenty more travel hacks and tips out there, some more common sense than actual hacks, but it just goes to show you can never be too prepared for a trip. For more travel-ready information, check out the rest of our travel blog!
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