Another Bad Travel Hack

I keep seeing these crazy ideas that don’t actually work such as . . . .

Board the Plane Last

The idea is; you don’t have to get in line and queue, and if the plane is full you might get an upgrade.

Here are three reasons why its a bad idea

Nowhere to put your carry on bag

These days airlines don’t seem to enforce their carry on policies.

That means its likely the luggage lockers near your seat will be full.

If you are really unlucky they will put your carry on in the hold.

You May Not Get On The Flight

Until you have got on the plane you are a candidate to get bumped if theplane is full, or the airline suddenly needs to get crew to another location.

Once you are on the plane these days you are unlikely to be removed. (You may remember United Airlines got a lot of bad publicity when they forcibly removed David Dao Duy Anh, a Vietnamese-American passenger, in 2017)

You’re Not Getting An Upgrade!

I have had many upgrades over the years. . . . . but not one of them was after I boarded.

When it has happened it has been:

  • At check in.
  • At the Airline lounge desk.
  • Called to the gate desk before boarding.
  • As the gate desk as boarding.

Airlines have sophisticated computers and they plan upgrades carefully.

Travel Vest

One thing I wear which helps me carry on more than the Airline’s 7kg is a Travel Vest.

There are several travel vests on the market but the one I use is a ScottEvest which has 24 pockets

Unlike a lot of photographer’s/fisherman’s vests the pockets aren’t really obvious.

The photo gives an indication of the pocket layout.

As well as carrying lots of extra weight it means that, if you put all your loose items in the vest, you can put the vest in the tray and walk through the scanner.

When I go through security, and get on the plane, the vest typically contains:

  • Tablet computer + charger
  • I -Phone + Charger
  • I pod + Cable
  • Power adapter for destination
  • Noise cancelling earbuds
  • Passport
  • Boarding pass
  • Keys
  • Coins
  • Folding umbrella
  • Wallet
  • Pen
  • Mints

It normally weighs 3-4kg!

Do you use a travel vest? . . . . which one?


I haven’t been paid or received any other benefit from this post.

My ‘Go To’ Checked Bag

Although I always have a carry on, which will keep me going for a couple of weeks, I still take a checked bag for long trips.

This enables me to take a few more shirts, and possibly some formal wear if required.

The bag is a Samsonite S’Cure cabin sized spinner case.

It’s only cabin sized so its easy to lift, and a bigger bag just encourages you to take more stuff that’s not really needed

I chose blue, rather than black, so it looks a bit different on the airport carousel.

OK for Long Trips

With this bag and a carry on I recently did 5 weeks around Europe quite easily

That included buying a few shirts and bringing back equipment from a Rotary Conference.

With two smallish bags it was easy to use public transport

I even walked a km from the station to my apartment with the bags.

Overall it saved me a fair bit of money in avoiding taxis or hire cars.

Why Samsonite S’cure

30 years ago I bought 3 Samsonite Oyster cases that have been round the world many times.

Over that time a couple of handles and a wheel have broken but each time Samsonite have provided free replacement parts.

The S’Cure cases are basically an update of the Oyster but spinner cases rather than trolley cases.

There are no zips, just strong latches that won’t spring loose and a waterproof seal between the two halves.

No 2 Carry On

Although the S’cure is carry on size the empty bag at 2.9kg is more than 2kg heavier than my Go To Carry On.

That means to stay within the 7kg weight limit for cabin baggage I can only take around 4kg rather than 6.5kg of contents.

OK for a weekend away but not really enough for a week or more as carry on.


I haven’t been paid or received any other benefit from this post.

Economy Seat Hacks

Flying long haul in economy can be a real trial, but there are some travel hacks you can do to help you get through the journey.

Using the Pillow and or Blanket

The typical airline seat is built for the average person, which doesn’t include me.

If a pillow or blanket is provided you can use it to modify the feel of the seat.

I have used these items to provide additional support to the small of my back.

Sometimes I use them at the seat fold to smooth the transition between the two components .

No pillow or blankets? . . . . you could try a jumper

Adjust the Head Rest

Headrest with wings folded forward

Although most budget airlines seem to have fixed headrests a full service airlines seats will probably have adjustable head rest. . . . although I don’t see many people taking advantage.

The typical headrest can move up and down several cms.

The side wings can also be folded forward to stop your head rolling sideways as you sleep.

Remove the Arm Rest

If you are travelling with a partner, or even if the seat next to you is empty you should be able to lift the arm rest up and out of the way.

When space is limited even a couple of cms can make a difference.

Great Way To Get Your Bearings

One of the easiest way I have found to get an appreciation of the place you are visiting are the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ buses.

In some cities there are even ‘Hop On Hop Off’ boats.

The buses are probably a bit overkill for smaller places, but we have found them a boon for big city holidays.

The commentaries can also give you a lot of hints about what things are worth doing.

Picking a company

There are often several competing companies but the companies with the most buses are the most convenient, otherwise you can too long waiting at stops.

Travel Hack – Spend half an hour having a coffee near one of the main tourist venues and watch the buses arrive. . . . You will soon know which are the most common bus companies.

There is also an advantage using companies with an ‘app’ that gives you an idea how far the bus is.

How We Use Them

Generally we get on the bus on day 1 of our visit and stay on the bus for a complete lap of the circuit.

We will then get off and visit one of the sights and start to plan the next few days.

If most of the sights are close to each other we will use the bus to get to the more remote places only.

The closer sites we will save for days on foot, or use public transport.

When all the sites are well separated it can be worth booking a 2nd Day on the bus (Normally at a considerable discount compared with a one day fare)

Some Downsides

If the traffic is really bad it can be very frustrating. . . . . In Kuala Lumpur there were times when the bus took 20 minutes to move 100m.

Sitting on the top deck can mean:

  • With the breezes you don’t realise that you may be getting burned on sunny days.
  • You quickly get very cold on overcast spring and autumn days.

In the USA the guides will be dropping heavy hints about ‘Tips’ every time you get off the bus.

Another Thing

Ten years ago we booked a day on a ‘Hop On-Hop Off’ bus in New York.

A year later we received a cheque for $30 as a result of a court ruling on cartel behavior by the two main operators.

Folding Coat Hangers

I don’t buy a lot of ‘travel gadgets’ myself, as I feel that most of them add weight without any benefit.

Recently someone else bought me some of these folding coat hangers and I have found them really useful.

As I generally travel with carry on luggage only I tend to wash clothes every 3-4 days.

When it comes to shirts the best way to dry them is on a hanger but there are often two problems:

  • Not enough coat hangers; or
  • They have those hotel hangers that only hang from the special fittings in the wardrobe.

These hangers solve those problems and don’t add much weight to your luggage.

If you can’t find them locally I have seen them on E-bay at less than $10 for a pack of 10.