Don’t let the summer travel season stress you out. Have you ever seen other travelers who zip through airport security without a care in the world?
They’re most likely frequent travelers who know all the tricks to avoid long lines and stressful situations. Unfortunately, if you’re not a frequent traveler, there are numerous situations that can turn your idyllic summer into a nightmare.
At Komando.com, we love to travel. We’re sharing five tips to help you de-stress, so you can truly relax and enjoy your vacation.
These tips include an easy way to find inexpensive flights. But they go beyond that. After all, your summer vacation also includes eating, filling up your gas tank and a lot more.
Bonus: Find out which travel sites and apps that Komando.com readers recommend. Then let them know which ones you use.
1. Easy itinerary
Once you land at your destination, how do you organize your vacation days? Do you take a sheet of paper and write everything down?
That’s effective but out of date. It’s easy to understand why we all do that, though. You don’t want to forget to visit a must-see tourist spot. You don’t want to forget dinner reservations you’ve made or a festival in a nearby town.
There are more important things on your itinerary, too. Have you ever missed a train that’s taking you to the airport? Have you forgotten to return your rental car in time? That’ll cost you.
Good news. The TripIt app works with your Gmail, Google Calendar (and other calendars) to create your all-in-one itinerary.
The best part is that it’s super easy to use. Just forward your emails to TripIt and it automatically puts your itinerary together. When your flight confirmation comes in, forward that to TripIt. When your dinner reservation email arrives, forward that. And so on.
Tip in a Tip: Drop Everything! Google Trips is a must-have download.
2. Must do when traveling overseas
Do not come home from a great vacation overseas only to find you’ve been slammed with roaming charges. There a few ways to avoid being charged for using your cellphone outside its service area.
Make sure you’re receiving emails and refreshing apps only when you have access to Wi-Fi. To avoid surprise charges, make sure you turn off automatic functions.
Turn off your automatic app refreshes and email downloads. You’ll also want to turn off other automatic functions like iCloud, Amazon Photos and so on. Wait until you have a Wi-Fi connection, then do it. Learn how to do these things and more - click here for a pro traveler's guide to using your smartphone abroad.
3. Useful apps for a road trip
Map apps are a great way to find the best route to your destination. A GPS navigation app like Waze can save you the agony of getting stuck in traffic snarls. It pulls information from other Waze users so you can quickly route around trouble spots.
What if you're traveling through a cellular dead zone? City Maps 2Go offers thousands of interactive maps that you can use offline. You can even search for restaurants, shops, bars and other points of interest.
There's nothing quite as frustrating as filling up your tank only to spot much cheaper gas prices up the road. You can always score the best gas prices with GasBuddy. It shows you the gas stations near you with the lowest prices.
If you want to know where to eat or shop along your route, iExit tells you what restaurants, stores and other attractions you'll find at every exit.
4. Easily find cheap flights
You know how frustrating it can be to book flights online. Of course, finding flights on your own is supposed to be a lot less stressful than paying a travel agent to do it.
Yet, you know how it goes. You start with one travel site and hours and hours later, you just give up.
Don’t fret. Google Flights can really help.
Google Flights allows you to set certain parameters when you search. Although many services let you modify your search options, let's just say that Google Flights is particularly good at it.
One of Google’s most impressive features is searching within a date range. Suppose you want to travel somewhere in Africa in October. You can select the dates you're available, and Google will figure out the best days and destinations for you.
As most serious travelers know, the best journeys are full of pleasant surprises.
However, if that's all you use it to do, you're missing out. There are some amazing features built in that make planning that vacation so much easier. Click here for five secrets to using Google Flights for the best deals.
If you'd still like to shop around after using Google Flights, there are some other great sites too. Click here to find four additional sites that help you save money on airfare.
5. Other useful travel tools
Ping4alerts! - This app tracks your location and sends you local traffic, weather and public safety alerts. It's also a powerful local search tool. Tap on Places to see stores and restaurants near your current location.
OpenTable - Avoid the stress of waiting for a table at restaurants during your travels. This free app lets you book a table ahead of time at thousands of restaurants.
Mobile Passport - International travelers can skip the line at U.S. customs lines thanks to the official app from U.S. Customs and Border Protection called Mobile Passport. Think of Mobile Passport as a replacement for the paper declaration form required for anyone coming into the United States. All you need to do is set up your profile, answer questions about your trip, then submit your data to Customs and Border Protection.