8 Expert Hacks To Make Travel Even Easier

We’re all about the travel hacks, so we asked 8 of our favorite Canadian travel bloggers to give us a few of their secrets. From how to pick the best seat on the plan to where to get the best restaurant recommendations, these tips will help you more confidently plan your next trip.

1. How to get the best seat on the plane.

Jim Byers recommends grabbing an aisle seat in the middle row. If your plane has 3 rows of seat across, “look for an aisle seat at the back in the middle section.” He says this is because “if your flight has even a dozen empty seats, a few of those are likely to be the middle seats in the middle section… If you’re on the aisle, you have at least a chance of having an empty seat next to you.” If your flight isn’t built that way, or if you think it’s for sure going to be booked, Leigh of Hikebiketravel recommends using SeatGuru to make sure you get the best seat.

2. How to cut down on your wait time.

Whether you’re in a line that snakes through the airport or can breeze right in, there are two things you can do to take a bit of stress out of your wait in the security line, says Janice at Solotraveler. They are: check in online and pack your carry-on with your liquids and electronics at the top. Though seemingly obvious, many travelers forget to do this. If you check in online, you’ll be able to avoid the line at the check-in counter and go directly to security. Got a bag to check? Check them at the counter before you walk into the airport. There’s usually no wait. Then, once you’re in the security line, if you’ve packed your carry-on with your liquids and electronics at the top, you can easily pull them out instead of struggling to fish them out beneath your… unmentionables (been there).

3. How to book the right hotel.

You could book a comfortable 4-star hotel but if it’s not close to the things you want to do on your trip, then why bother? Charles and Micki (the Barefoot Nomads) like using our hotel map when they search (on the search results page, click Go To Map). That way, they can see how close they are to the activity. You can choose from common activities to see where the hotspots are or zoom in and look for popular attractions. Then, filter to choose the best hotel based on what’s important for your trip.

4. How to find the best places to eat when you travel.

Dave and Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic know how to live that foodie traveler life. Their suggestion? Don’t ask the hotel concierge where to eat, but do ask them to make a reservation for you. “When it comes to booking restaurants, keep in mind that concierges often have relationships with restaurants, which is sometimes incentivized,” BiM explains. Yet, if you’re in a new country and your language skills are limited, enlist your concierge to call the restaurant for you. So, where should you go to get a good recommendation? Ask your server. “If you have great service and like your server ask them where they go for a drink with friends,” BiM suggests. “Where would they take friends to eat. Let them know you want a local place so it doesn’t have to be famous, just where locals eat.”

5. How to maximize stopovers.

There’s nothing less glamorous than waiting hours in an airport for your connecting flight. Instead, Marie-Julie of Taxi-Brousse invites you to make the most of your layover. For shorter layovers, you can book a visit to a local spa (some airport hotels offer one on-site) or stretch your legs for a walk outside. Another option is to specifically plan your trip so that your stopover last a day or two. Some airlines will let you do this without any added cost to your ticket. Marie-Julie used a long stopover to take a city tour in Amsterdam before hopping on her next flight.

6. How to find travel inspiration.

All our experts agree — the 2018 KAYAK Travel Hacker Guide is a great starting point if you’re trying to decide where to go this year. With over 44 destinations, there’s something for everyone. Plus, we gathered data from over 1.5 billion annual searches to be sure you have the information you need to confidently plan your trips. Other options for visual inspiration, says Erin Nicole of The Curious Creature, is good ol’ Instagram. Start with  “a search of the Instagram ‘places’ tab [which] can send you deep into the dreamy itinerary-making zone.” However, not all things are what they appear, so Erin advises, “Once a photo catches your eye, don’t forget to accompany the shot with ample online research to avoid disappointment.”

7. How to navigate while offline.

It’s so easy to take cell service and Wifi access for granted, but it can be a hassle when you’re in a new city and see “Searching for Service” at the top of your phone. Be prepared, says Leigh of Hikebiketravel, by downloading all your maps ahead of time. Google Maps will even let you download walking and driving directions. Plus, be sure to download a schedule of local public transit.

8. How to travel with kids.

Natalie of The Adventures of Natty P is experienced at traveling with tots. From making flight durations coincide with naptime to securing transportation to and from the airport, she knows there are lots of little steps you can take to make family travel more seamless. She recommends shipping large items — like a box of diapers and wipes — to your hotel beforehand. Or, just wait until you get to your destination and buy it there. This saves you not only checked bag costs, but also your sanity. One of her biggest tips, however, is finding a trustworthy babysitting service at your destination. “As much as you adore your little one, some baby-free adult time with your partner is very necessary. You are the best possible people, parents and partners when you have time to relax.”

Looking for more travel tips and tricks? Our 2018 Travel Hacker Guide is full of the information you need to plan an epic vacation this year.

5 ways to make low-cost airlines work for you

Low-cost airlines offer up cheaper fares by cutting back on the perks — like free snacks, seat selection and carry-on baggage. While it’s understandable to be a bit discouraged by a la carte prices and no-frills service, there’s also a ton to appreciate.

Choosing what you pay for gives you options, so you only spend money on the perks that matter to you. And that may mean skimping on the in-flight meal so you have more leftover to splurge on something in your destination (or, hey, putting it towards another trip).

With a little prep-work and the help of our tools and features, you’ll be able to get the most from budget airlines, with no surprises along the way. Read on for our top tips and tricks and then search for yourself.

Make the most of a la carte pricing

Low-cost carriers are able to charge less than traditional airlines by stripping away all of the extras. Seats may not be as roomy, there may not be in-flight entertainment or free snacks provided, and your baggage allowance may be limited. But you get to travel for less, and that alone can make it all worth it. And you can always add-on the perks that matter to you — which means you only pay for what you actually want. So if you’re someone who packs light and can sleep on airplanes, but gets hangry without a snack mid-flight, you can make that option work for you.

Know what you’re paying for

One of the most important things to remember about budget airlines is that what you’re paying for is just the flight. That’s why these fares seem so much cheaper than they actually are. But for the most accurate comparison, be sure you’re factoring in fees — including those pesky baggage fees, which can often be high on low-cost carriers.

Use KAYAK’s handy Fee Assistant to add in fees while you search. That way your results will compare flight options by the total cost. Our Fee Assistant appears at the top of the results when you run a flight search on KAYAK. Simply add the number of carry-on and checked bags you’re planning to bring and watch as the prices reorder accordingly.

Consider the size of your luggage

Size requirements for carry-on baggage are typically stricter on low-cost carriers than other airlines. When considering size limitations and added fees, it may make more sense to check your bag than to carry it on. In fact, it may even be cheaper and the size limits are usually considerably larger.

Conversely, if you’re a light packer, a standard backpack is often considered a personal item — and everyone can bring one personal item on board for free

When considering your carry-on or personal item (which is also subject to a size limit), always be savvy of the size of your bags before heading to the airport. After all, it costs more to check your bag at the airport than it would cost to add checked baggage during booking online.

If you’re not sure if your bag is within the size limit, use KAYAK’s augmented reality baggage measurement tool to measure your luggage right in the KAYAK app. Just open a flight search, click “new bag measurement tool” and follow the prompts. This way, you’ll know right away whether you should purchase a carry-on or checked bag… or simply vow to travel light.

Book online & all at once

To maximize the savings provided by budget airlines, it can often pay to book everything online upfront. If you know you’re going to need a carry-on or checked bag, purchasing this at the same time as your flight can also save you money since prices go up when you add a bag at the airport or check it at the gate.

Similarly, checking in online or through the airline’s app and using a mobile boarding pass or print-at-home ticket is free, but there may be a charge associated with checking in and printing your boarding pass at the airport counter.

Make your own amenities

There’s typically no seat-back TV with movies on demand when you fly a budget airline, and we’ll admit that’s not ideal. However, with a tablet and some downloaded movies, you’ll hardly miss it — as long as you have the right tools. The Airhook and the Flight Flap are both affordably priced devices that let you attach your phone or tablet to the seatback in front of you — the Airhook even comes with a cup holder. Pack a refillable water bottle and fill it up after security (pack some lemon or lime slices or a powdered drink mix if you’d prefer something a little tastier). Grab some snacks from home and you’re set.

And since you’re unable to choose your seat ahead of time, maximize comfort (even in the middle seat) by bringing along some neck support. With so many options out there, your choices are no longer limited to the typical hard-to-pack U-shaped option. Swap that bulky airplane pillow for a soft fleece wrap that supports your neck and is easy to pack, like the Trtl Pillow.  

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Are there any travel deals?

It’s Thanksgiving week and you know what that means — before you can even finish your drumstick, those Black Friday and Cyber Monday “doorbusters” will be there for the taking. This year, instead of rushing out at 4am to grab the latest Bluetooth toaster, why not save your energy and book an incredible getaway.


But with all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype — it begs the question: Can you really score a great travel deal? The answer: it all depends on where you’re going.

To figure out which day offers better deals on airfare, we took a deep dive into last year’s data. For each region, we compared the median airfare for 2017’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday to the median airfare for the 3 consecutive Fridays/Mondays before and after each holiday.

Here’s what we learned:

Overall insights

In general, more travelers are searching for trips on Cyber Monday than they are on Black Friday. With good reason. Travelers can expect to find better travel deals on Cyber Monday when flight prices are around 4.1% lower than they usually are for a November/December Monday.

Regions to search for on Black Friday

According to last year’s data, the following regions saw at least a 7% decrease in median airfare on Black Friday: Middle East (prices down 16%), Africa (down 9%), South America (down 7%), Asia (down 6%), South America (down 7%).

Regions to search for on Cyber Monday

Not only did the South Pacific region see the largest jump in search volume (searches were up 131% on Cyber Monday last year), but it also saw the biggest price drops with median airfare down 26%. North America saw price drops of about 4%.

The neutral zone

Despite the increase in demand, travel searches to the Caribbean and Europe were up on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, these were the only 2 regions where booking one day versus the other didn’t make a big difference. On both days, median airfare remained fairly flat compared to what you’d find on any other November Monday or Friday.

Fresh travel deals

To help you score a great vacation this weekend, we’ve rounded up the top travel deals on the internet for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From getaways in South America to multi-city European tours, gift yourself an epic holiday trip.

Our top Black Friday travel hacks

  • Packages to Europe are a winning combination. Last year, Europe saw the biggest jump in search volume (up 25%) but flight prices remained flat. According to KAYAK’s data, booking a packaged deal to Europe was 6% cheaper on Black Friday than booking separately. This Black Friday, Gate 1 Travel is offering packages to various cities across Europe starting at $599.
  • Flights to the Middle East saw the biggest price drops. Last year, median airfare to the Middle East dropped 16% — the largest price drop of any region on Black Friday.
  • Score great airfare deals to South America & Africa. Flights to South America & Africa also saw price drops of 9% and 7% respectively on Black Friday.
  • Keep an eye on the airlines –– Norwegian Air will offer 15% off flights for travel between December 10, 2018 and March 31, 2019. And WoW Air wants you to book that Eurotrip, so they’re offering great deals on flights from major US hubs to cities across the pond.

Our top Cyber Monday travel hacks

  • There are deals to be had in the Caribbean. Last year, the Caribbean was among the hottest regions to search for on Cyber Monday with flight searches up 28%. This year, CheapCaribbean.comis offering deals to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, Turks & Caicos and more, starting as low as $349.
  • Trendsetters and deal hunters alike should head South. The South Pacific region saw the largest jump in search volume (searches were up a whopping 131% on Cyber Monday last year) and the biggest price drops, with median airfare down 26%. This Cyber Monday, Qantas Vacations and Islands in the Sun are offering deals to Fiji & Australia.
  • Las Vegas is always a good idea. The US saw a median airfare drop by 4% on Cyber Monday. This year, Caesars Entertainment will be offering up to 25% off on Las Vegas hotels on or near the strip.

Head here for the top travel deals

Want to be sure you get the latest travel deals, delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for a free KAYAK account.

Whatever travel deal you take advantage of this holiday, just know we’re thankful that you choose to search hundreds of sites at once for the best travel deals on KAYAK. Happy Thanksgiving!

Methodology

KAYAK looked at all domestic and international round-trip flight prices and searches from the US. with search dates of November 24, 2017 (Black Friday) and November 27, 2017 (Cyber Monday) for travel at any time. To make an adequate analysis of savings, KAYAK compared search data all domestic and international round-trip flight prices and searches from the US for 3 Fridays before and 3 Fridays after Black Friday 2017 and for the 3 Mondays before and 3 Mondays after Cyber Monday 2017. All searches were pulled from KAYAK’s internal database looking at median prices.

10 ways to travel stress-free with KAYAK Trips

There’s a lot that goes into travel planning. Finding flights and hotels, packing, online check-in, figuring out how to get to and from the airport… Thankfully, we created a tool that keeps everything organized for you so you can focus on the important things — like snorkeling with sea turtles and eating your weight in poke. KAYAK Trips makes sure you have all your travel plans in one place, so that you can feel confident in the journey ahead.

Oh, and did we mention that unlike those other itinerary apps, it’s totally free?

Here’s how to get organized with Trips:

1) Automatically import all your travel plans.

So, you’re going on a trip. You’ve booked a flight, hotel or vacation home, maybe a rental car,  oh and a few restaurants, some tours and activities, maybe even a spa appointment… how are you going to organize it all?

With Trips Email Sync, you simply connect your Gmail or Outlook to Trips (or forward your travel confirmation emails to trips@kayak.com) and KAYAK will automatically import any travel bookings for your upcoming travels. To set it up, sign into KAYAK, go to Trips and click “Enable Email Sync.” We’ll walk you through the rest.

Don’t want to sync up your email? We get it. Just forward any confirmations you receive to trips@kayak.com and it will be added to your trip. (PS This email forwarding also works for confirmations beyond flights, hotels and rental cars — like restaurant reservations, tour confirmations and more.)

2) Use Trips to keep track of flights, hotels and rental cars.

Your relationship with Trips can begin even before you have anything booked. Because we know the best vacations come out of daydreams.

While you search, every flight, hotel or rental car you save for later on KAYAK gets added to a trip. Meaning you can check back any time to see how prices are faring on the options you’re interested in.

3) Access from any device – Even while offline.

With the KAYAK App, you can access all your trips in one place, with hotels, flights, even restaurant confirmations, all sorted by time. Trips also works in offline mode, in case your phone doesn’t have data or WiFi wherever you’re going.

And, get this: you’re being environmentally friendly. Because you’re no longer printing out stacks of confirmations.

4) Share travel plans with friends and family.

Easily share your vacation plans with friends and family by adding their email addresses to your profile. You can give them viewing or editing access to all your trips — or to just one. Add by email or phone number to send updates when your itinerary changes.

That way, your nearest and dearest can receive flight status updates, hotel information and more. So they can keep track of things while you’re out of town. Plus, if you’re planning a group trip, this is a great way to get your friends to give input on the things they want to do and see, add in hotel or flight details, and more. So everyone stays on the same page.

5) Receive up-to-date status on your flights.

With Trips, once your flight is booked you can stop worrying over minute details. Gate changes, flight delays, check-in reminders — you’ll get notifications for all of these. You can elect to receive updates via email, SMS or Facebook messenger (or all 3 if that’s your thing).

6) Use assisted check-in for your flight

It’s the 21st century, so of course you’re checking in online. But even still — remembering or typing in an awkward confirmation number (or having to install an app for each individual airline. Like your phone needs that right now) can be frustrating. Instead, you can “Check in with KAYAK” directly through our app. In one seamless experience, we’ll remind you when check-in opens and send you to your airline’s mobile site, fill in your information for you based on your reservation, and start the check-in flow. That way all you have to worry about is choosing the best seat in the cabin.

7) Carry your boarding pass with you, wherever you go.

Whether or not you use Trips’ assisted check-in, as soon as your digital boarding pass is issued, you can email it to trips@kayak.com to add it to your Trip (or, automatically import it because you’ve signed up for Trips Email Sync). That way, you’ll have access to the pass from your phone inside the KAYAK app whenever you need it.

8) Flight delayed? Get paid.

We’ve teamed up with Service to help you get the money you deserve when your travel plans don’t pan out. With Trips, you’ll be able to start the reimbursement process immediately if your trip is eligible.

9) Show off your stats.

Earn bragging rights. With each new Trip, we’ll update your “Trip Stats,” so you can keep track of things like how many countries you’ve visited, how far you’ve traveled, how many nights you’ve spent away from home and more. Share your stats with friends and followers, or enjoy a little personal ego boost.

10) Driving directions, Siri shortcuts and more.

Like the bonus tracks on an album, Trips comes with some other cool features. Say you’ve rented a car in another city and need to figure out how to get to the hotel. Simply click the “Get directions” link in your Trips and it’ll navigate you there. Or if you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language and hop in a taxi, you can select “Show driver” for an enlarged view of the address.

So, what are you waiting for? Download the KAYAK app to confidently plan and manage your next trip.

International road trip tips: 7 things to know before renting a car abroad

What’s better than cruising down the road, windows open, listening to your favorite playlist? Doing all that… on vacation. Whether you’re traveling from Italy to Switzerland, through the Irish countryside, or across Australia; renting a car can make your international trip that much better.

And with this year’s record-high predictions for summer travel, renting a car might just be the best way to get from point A to B. Plus, renting a car lets you go off the beaten path and explore exactly when and where you want. But, with rules that vary by country, there are a few things to know before you go. Drive confidently with our tips for renting a car around the world.

Find a rental car

Do your research

You’ve chosen your destination, maybe you’ve even booked your flights and hotel. Now it’s time to decide if you want your own wheels to explore and if it’s even possible to rent a car where you’re headed. Lucky for you, in most places, it is possible to rent a car. But some rules and regulations regarding eligibility may vary. Factors such as age, license type and which rental car company you choose may impact your eligibility. Make sure you have your bases covered before you book by looking into the requirements for driving legally in the country you’re headed to. The US Department of State offers a guide to get you started.

Get licensed

 

Check the license and insurance requirements for driving abroad. Depending on the country, it might be acceptable to drive with your U.S. license or you may require an International Driving Permit (IDP). Applying for an IDP costs $20 and works in conjunction with your valid driver’s license (it’s not enough on its own) in more than 150 countries. Keep in mind, an IDP may not be necessary for some countries so checking a country’s requirements early is always a good idea. For example, in many European countries, a valid U.S. license will be enough for you to hit the road.

Get insured

Most car rental contracts include insurance, but sometimes it can get pricey. We recommend getting insurance when renting a car internationally. However, before signing anything check with your current car insurance to see if you’re already covered abroad. If you plan on using a credit card to rent a car, check with your credit card policy to see if your card offers insurance.

You’ll need your car insurance to cover the minimum requirements of your destination country, and it’s best to get insurance that’s equal to what you have at home. Remember, even if your existing car insurance offers international coverage, it may not be as extensive. You’ll want to ensure that whichever insurance you go with includes liability insurance. Lastly, if you’re traveling to more than one country make sure that the insurance you have covers you in all of the countries you plan to visit.

Look at all your options

Be savvy and explore your options to find the best deal. When you search for cars on KAYAK, we show you all of your options in one place and allow you to filter by the things that are important to you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Book the car in advance, rates might be cheaper. And if you’re traveling during the peak season, options might be limited.
  • Look into bundles, it might be cheaper to rent a car when booking flights and a hotel at the same time.
  • Book and pay before the trip, it’s easier. Use our Payment Type filter to show all of the options that allow you to pay now.
  • Book from a reputable agency. Check out the agency’s rating in our search results – this lets you know if other travelers found it to be a good – and trustworthy – experience.
  • Know what you’re paying for. Sometimes rental car companies will tack on charges for a variety of different things. Make sure you know exactly what’s included in the cost.
  • Make sure you get a car that can fit everyone you’re traveling with. Use our Capacity filter when you search to filter your results by the number of passengers.
  • Don’t assume automatic will be, well, automatic. Manual transmission is the preference across Europe, so if you’re not used to shifting gears, use our Car Options filter to show only cars with automatic transmission.

Drive safe

Before hitting the open road, check a few things out first.

  • Fuel up. Make sure you are leaving with a full tank, so you are not charged for refilling. (Also remember to return it with a full tank as the refueling charge can be pricey.)
  • Check under the hood. Make sure that the oil and windshield wiper fluids are at the right level, so you don’t have to fill either up mid-road trip.
  • Check the tires. Make sure all four have appropriate pressure.
  • Look for damage. Make sure there isn’t any damage from previous renters that haven’t been noted so you’re not liable.
  • Get your paperwork in order. Make sure you have a copy of the registration and know where it’s located, in case you’re stopped by the police.
  • Know how to call for help. Keep a list of emergency contact numbers handy, specific to the country you’re visiting.
  • Buckle up, even if it isn’t the law.

Follow the rules

Before embarking on your foreign journey, make sure you know the rules of the road. Knowing the basics, like which side of the road to drive on, speed limits and how to interpret basic road signs, especially if they’re in a language you don’t speak.

Ask about any country-specific rules of the road you should be aware of when you pick up your car, whether these are laws or just local tips. Drivers can get a copy of the foreign driving laws specific to each country before the trip from the embassy or consulates, foreign government tourism offices or the rental company.

Getting around

Knowing where you’re going is very important. While using your smartphone or a GPS for directions can be easy, take a paper map along for the ride, just in case your phone dies or there isn’t service.

Ready for that international road trip? KAYAK can help you find the perfect ride so you can hit the road confidently wherever you travel.

Oktoberfest: How to head to Germany’s most iconic event

Beer, brats and bar songs. Who could ask for more? Since 1810, Munich‘s Oktoberfest, Germany’s 3-week cultural celebration that attracts around 5.6 million people, has been a big draw for travelers. And every year, there seems to be more to celebrate. We found that KAYAK flight searches to Munich have spiked over 16% for Oktoberfest this year vs. last. But it’s not just the lederhosen that’s tempting travelers – we found that European destinations in general are hot (and affordable). Making now as good a time as any to head across the pond and prost.

The challenge of Oktoberfest, however, is figuring out where to sit. With tents filled to the brim with party-goers, snagging a seat can take some gymnastics if you didn’t get there early – especially if you’re traveling with family. Until now. Our friends at OpenTable have made it possible to reserve your place in an Oktoberfest tent directly on their site. These tents are available around lunchtime and attract a local crowd, making them great places to learn about Oktoberfest culture with the family. And reserving a tent ahead of time is always a good idea. That way, you’re spending less time casing the tents and more time enjoying the festivities. Which is what Oktoberfest is all about.

Here’s how to confidently plan your next Oktoberfest in Munich.

When to Go

Oktoberfest is almost always from late-September into early-October. This year, it runs from September 21 to October 6. Travelers who are headed to Munich during those dates surprisingly saw lower airfare (median $761) than if there were traveling in the weeks before the event (median $810). Munich hotel prices are also lower comparatively during Oktoberfest (median $138/night vs $196/night before Oktoberfest and $267/night after it ends). So really, you have no excuse at this point.

Flights to Munich from $290Accommodations from $19

What to Eat

Every Oktoberfest smorgasbord has the basics: sausages, schnitzel and salty pretzels. But there are many other delicacies you can sample. To help figure out what to order, OpenTable rounds up some of the best meals in the tents, from traditional dishes to vegan-friendly ones.

Where to Drink

Wondering which tent to reserve? Oktoberfest tents (or beer halls) may seem the same but each has its own unique vibe. Münchner Knödelei is one of the smaller tents, at just 800 seats (for comparison, larger tents like Schottenhamel have nearly 10,000 seats). With a family-friendly atmosphere, it’s a great tent to consider if you plan on bringing the kids. For travelers trying to fool themselves into thinking Oktoberfest can be done the “healthy way,” well, that might not be so foolish. The tent at Fisch-Bäda Wiesnstadl serves up organic, gluten-free and vegan-friendly dishes so that you can join in the celebration, no matter your dietary restrictions. And if you want to raise a glass to history, the Heinz Wurst- und Hühnerbraterei tent has been part of the Oktoberfest tradition for over 100 years. See the other Oktoberfest tents you can book.

Whether you’re looking for the right Oktoberfest tent or the right flight, we can get you the information you need to make confident travel decisions.