Mile-long beaches. World-class sightseeing. Ice cream every night. Summer vacations are unmatched. But actually getting there is another story. While some things will always be a hassle (renewing your passport, blerg), there often is a better way. Here, seven essential travel hacks that’ll help you get to where you’re going. Fingers crossed that place is called “relaxation.”
First Things First: Make a To-Do List
Before you start packing, download the Wunderlist app (free for iPhone and Android) and plot out everything you’ll need. The app has calendar alarms to help you combat the I’ll-just-pack-the-night-before-my-6 a.m.-flight instinct, and it lets you collaborate on a super-list with your travel buddies.
Learn the Trick to Car Rental Insurance
If you’re renting a car, double-check whether your auto insurance covers rentals (most auto policies do) before buying additional coverage. If that doesn’t work, pay for your rental car with an American Express card–it offers “Premium Car Rental Protection” for $24.95 or less for up to 42 days. The more you know.
Take Advantage of the Airbnb for Parking
New start-up GaragePointer is hoping to remedy the parking dilemma in major cities by hooking drivers up with garage owners who have extra room and want to make a quick buck. After registering, users can check for nearby garage openings, park their cars and then arrange payment with the owner. It’s free to list on the peer-to-peer platform, and pricing is up to the involved parties (though there is a $20 fee for each transaction). Makes that New York City vacay seem a little more feasible, doesn’t it?
Speaking of Airbnb, Book Smarter
If you’re trying out an Airbnb, heed our warnings and be wary of hosts who are slow to respond, have negative reviews or ask for payment to be delivered upon arrival, as in-person cash swaps are actually forbidden under the website’s rules. If you run into any problems, contact Airbnb within the first 24 hours and it will put a hold on the payment. Even after that window, don’t sweat it. The company is known to be very fair about refunds in case of a travel emergency.
Breeze Through Security with Global Entry
Hands down the best-kept secret in travel. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection program, Global Entry lets you cut all immigration and customs lines, get TSA PreCheck every time andskip the paperwork when leaving or entering a country. The service costs $100 for five years, and you can apply by filling out an online survey and then scheduling an in-person interview at your local enrollment center.
Travel Often? Utilize an On-Demand Wardrobe
If your summer travel doesn’t stop at the family vacation (aka you’re a frequent business flyer), we suggest checking out DUFL–a service that stores your wardrobe and ships your clothes to you, wherever you are. Everything you need will be waiting when you arrive, and DUFL wil take care of it as you check out. It also dry-cleans your items and stores them until your next trip. No bags equals one less problem at the security line.
Discover the Key to Endless Battery Life
It’s inevitable: Everyone in the whole darn airport will be looking for charging stations. Fortunately, those big TVs that are at just about every gate have USB ports on the back. All you have to do is sneakily plug your phone into one (assuming it’s not too high on the wall).