Most of the travel hacks you’ve read about involve pilfering toothbrushes from the airplane bathroom and asking the air stewardess repeatedly for free snacks. But none of these really make the interminable flights or the uncomfortable layovers any more bearable. These three travel hacks, though, just might leave a bigger impact on your holiday.
Get free hotel stays for stopovers of over 8 hours
Most people don’t know that many airlines will offer you a free hotel stay if you have a stopover of more than 8 hours. And no wonder, because they do not publicise this little perk, and if you don’t ask you’ll never know what you missed. You have to take it upon yourself to call the airline in advance and ask if they’ll be providing accommodation.
Last week, I took a long haul flight back to Singapore on Sri Lanka Airlines, with a one-day stopover in Sri Lanka, which I had intentionally booked so I would get to hang out in Negombo for an afternoon. Sri Lanka Airlines very kindly put me up at The Gateway Hotel and included a free breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now, you are more likely to find me crashing a stranger’s couch with their cat sitting on my face than luxuriating in a hotel where someone actually helps you carry your bag up to the room. So I’m still feeling pumped about the experience. Try it!
Inform the hotel of a special occasion before you arrive so they can give you a treat
Hotels take customer service quite seriously, and if you have booked yourself a stay at a fairly decent establishment, they might give you a treat if they know you’re there for a birthday, honeymoon or anniversary.
Here’s the catch—they can’t give you any freebies if they don’t know about it. If you are making a reservation online, add a little note at the end of your email to let them know the reason you’ll be there. If you can’t do that, it’s up to you to call them up and tell them—tactfully, of course, because they’re under no obligation to give you any freebies.
One trick you can use is to call the day before (not too far in advance) to ask about something trivial—such as to confirm that you’ve been allocated a non-smoking room, or to ask them how to get to the hotel from the airport. Then mention that you’ll be there for x special occasion, and leave it at that. When you check in, mentioning it politely to the person at the front desk can’t hurt, either.
Don’t be rude, pushy or act as if you’re entitled to freebies, because you’re not. And bear in mind that front desk staff are unlikely to give you an upgrade if other customers are within earshot, so be discreet.
There are people who manage to build rapport with the front desk and get upgrades to rooms with better views. Even if you don’t get upgraded, you might find a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers, a slice of cake or some balloons in your room.
Get free airport transfers, airport lounge access and travel insurance from your credit card
I have to admit that a small part of me dies inside when I have to drag all my luggage onto the MRT and bus on an excruciating 2 hour journey to Changi Airport. However, these days I try to avoid it by booking my flights using a credit card that can snag me a free airport transfer.
If you’ve never used the airport lounge benefits your credit cards give you, give it a go, as lounges are equipped with free food, free wifi and sometimes even showers. It’s a good idea to strategically plan your lounge visits—unless your lounge entitlements are unlimited, use them when you have a layover or are in need of food before a long journey (having to travel back to Jurong from Changi Airport counts as one).
Finally, travel insurance is pretty much essential to most of us, so it’s nice that credit cards are offering it free if you book your tickets with them.
Credit cards are doling out so many travel-related freebies that there’s really no reason not to apply for a card or two solely to book air tickets with. Here are some noteworthy deals:
- ANZ Travel Visa Signature – Free limousine departure transfer with spending of $1,500 within 30 days of booking, access to lounges and free travel insurance
- OCBC Titanium – Complimentary limousine departure transfer with spending of $1,500 in the month of travel and free travel insurance
- Maybank Horizon Visa Platinum – Complimentary access to VIP lounges and free travel insurance
- AMEX Krisflyer Gold – Exclusive Hertz privileges worldwide and free travel insurance
- Citi PremierMiles – Complimentary Priority Pass lounge access and free travel insurance
Do you have any other travel hacks to share? Let us know in the comments!
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