travel hacks

If your smart phone isn’t snapping sharp enough pics, slip on a nifty lens kit. (Photo: Alamy)

Tips + Trends

Travel Smarter: 8 Summer Vacation Planning Hacks

If your smart phone isn’t snapping sharp enough pics, slip on a nifty lens kit. (Photo: Alamy)

Summer travel shouldn’t be a chore. With the help of these travel hacks, you’ll give the headaches of travel planning (and, OK, some of the traveling itself) the heave-ho and get to work on your tan in no time flat. Just don’t forget the suntan lotion. Alas, our hacks won’t fix a sunburn.

Find Cheaper Flights

Overpriced flights? Nuh-uh! Download Hopper, a free app. Give the app the 411 on your travel plans, and in return you’ll get a heads-up on the best time to buy your ticket. Wait, what? Really? Yes, really.

Prefer finding flights that won’t leave you racking up endless travel days? Hipmunk’s travel search sorts by “agony”— a combo of price, flight duration and the number of stops.

Sleep Tight(er) on the Flight

Skip the face-forward mid-sleep head slam when flying. Take that U-shaped neck pillow you bought three trips ago (but don’t totally love) and turn it around. It’ll catch your head and let you rest — no rude awakenings necessary.

Bring Your Fave Movies

Don’t depend on the airline to provide your entertainment. A much-awaited Netflix update now lets subscribers download flicks for times when Wi-Fi isn’t available (or you don’t want to be tempted to work instead).

Keep These Items in Your Suitcase — Just in Case

Leave your bag partially packed at all times with some just-for-the-road tools. A simple tennis (or golf) ball will help you roll out the kinks after a long travel day.

Headlamps aren’t just for hiking; they add an easy source of light if you decide to take a late-night beach walk (or in case of a nighttime emergency). Flip-flops. You always end up needing them. You never have them.

The best just-in-case backup? Wrap a couple of feet of duct tape around a plastic bottle to make for easy repairs on suitcases and more. And an extra phone-battery charger and cable ensure you can always stay in touch (if that’s what you want to do).

Snap Better Phone Pics

Seriously, don’t lug that big old camera along again. Unless you’re a pro photographer (and even pros are putting lighter kits to work), an iPhone paired with some of the latest lens kits will do you more than fine.

Your friends will ooh and aah over your brilliant shots — “You should really sell these,” they’ll say. Consider the core lens set from olloclip, which includes fish-eye, macro and super-wide lenses — all in one tiny, slip-onto-your-phone bundle.

Minimize Airport Line Wait Time

Your long wait is over with the help of the MiFlight app. Thanks to the help of fellow travelers, the app serves up crowd-sourced info on the wait time for TSA lines at the airport. Just remember: Everybody else helped you, so make sure you return the favor and input your wait times once you’re in line.

You Can Bank on It

Keep the funds flowing so your fun doesn’t have to stop. As soon as you book your airline ticket or hotel rooms, call your bank and/or credit cards to let them know your travel plans. It’s that thing you always forget to do. No shame in it. Who doesn’t forget to do that? Such a pain. But it’s for a good reason.

Voices Carry

Stay in touch with travel companions — even when you’re off the grid (or your cell service just goes spotty). The goTenna lets phones talk to each other as long as they’re within 50 miles of each other.