Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a travel 'hack', a piece of good old-fashioned travel advice, and the plain obvious. Not to mention that for people, like myself, with a healthy dose of 'travel paranoia', some of the tips that are important for me might seem a little extreme (I try to arrive at the airport 5 hours before my flight, so that I will have time to go back home and get my passport if I forget it!)
Let's start with some good old chestnuts that seem to pop up on every list of travel hacks and tips!
Bring an empty bottle to the airport.
As you know, these days it isn't possible to bring any liquids over 100ml through security, so unless you are drinking from a tiny Lipovitan D bottle then you won't be allowed to bring your water through the security gates and into the terminal.
Once you are through the security gates, of course, they will try to sell you a small bottle of water for 500円! To solve this problem, simply bring along an empty water bottle, and you will be able to fill it for free once you go past security.
Roll your clothes up.
Another piece of travel advice that I am sure you have heard, read, or even given before! If you fold your clothes the traditional way, they will look very neat and very flat, but it can be difficult to take a shirt from the middle without messing up the whole pile.
If you roll your shirts up (like little spring rolls), it will be easier to keep your luggage tidy inside, and much easier to pick out the clothes you want every morning!
Bring a pillowcase.
This was taught to me by a friend about 15 years ago, but since then I have seen it in a number of places. Instead of packing a full pillow in your hand luggage (which can take up about half of the bag!), you simply pack the pillowcase. This means that if you have a 3 hour wait at a bus-stop, or a long layover at an airport, you can put some clothes (like a jacket or a few shirts) into the pillowcase and use it as a pillow! It might sound pretty silly, but it can make a huge difference in the moment.
Scan your passport and documents and email them to yourself.
This is a hack that might seem a little paranoid, but if you ever need it you will be very glad that you did it! The reason to email it to yourself rather than simply keeping the images on your phone is that if you lose your phone, you will still be able to log into any PC and get the information you need.
Choose your seat carefully.
Unless you are flying on a budget airline with unallocated seating, then you might have a chance to choose a specific seat when you check-in. Choose carefully! These days it can be difficult to get one of the seats with slightly more leg-room, as these are often now sold at a premium, but that doesn't mean that your choice isn't important.
Personally, I go for the window seat on short-haul flights, and the aisle seat on long-haul flights, so that I don't have to ask people to move if I need the toilet. I take a seat near the rear of the plane, as statistically these are the safest seats in an accident, but don't sit in the rearmost three rows unless you want to hear the explosive flush of the aeroplane toilet every two minutes!
Get some apps.
In this day and age, there are plenty of apps that can help you out as you travel. One example is an app that contains the Arrivals/Departures boards for every airport, live! No more trying to find a seat where you can see the big screen, with apps like this you can carry the information with you. Many airlines now have their own app, which allows you to check in easier, and request special in-flight meals, and other things too.
These tips are all useful, but as Coronavirus doesn't really allow international travel at the moment, you will have to wait for a chance to use them!
(Do you have any questions about the grammar or vocabulary in this column? Just post a comment and ask away.)