6 Old-School Travel Hacks That Still Work

produced by Erin Yamagata; modeled by Melerie Uribe; photographed by Rachel Cabitt.
The way we travel has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last couple of decades: Thanks to technology, everything from booking a flight to finding the most authentic place to get brunch can be done with a simple search on your smartphone. The preparation process for a trip has been streamlined to the point where you can basically pack your bags and go.
While the solution to most of your travel-related woes is just a few taps away, there are a few tried-and-true hacks you should still commit to memory. Yes, ordering traveler's checks or getting a calling card may seem like advice more suited for your parent's generation, but they can really save you when technology fails you — which happens more than you think.
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We've put together six old-school pearls of wisdom you should consider before your next trip. Don't knock 'em till you try them.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Traveler's Checks

If you're going abroad, traveler's checks are by far the safest type of currency to carry around. They can be replaced with 24 hours when stolen or lost at no cost, no matter where in the world you are. Countersigning is required to activate the check. Many traveler's checks have add-on benefits that can be very helpful for unexpected complications along the trip, such as passport replacement. If you're traveling somewhere with sparse ATM locations or your credit card charges a high transaction fee, traveler's checks are definitely worth looking into. Just be mindful to safeguard your receipt at a separate location.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Print Out Your Boarding Pass

Most airlines have now enabled electronic boarding passes to be sent directly via email or text in the form of QR codes. But, don't go completely paperless just yet: If your phone malfunctions or goes out of battery, you'll be asked to line up at the check-in counter again to get a physical pass printed out. This will be a massive pain if you're in a hurry. There's also the possibility that the scanner can fail to read your pass. If your phone has a habit of acting up, bringing a printed version as a backup can save a lot of hassle.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Exchange Money Ahead Of Your Trip

While it's easy to go cashless and just rely on your card these days, it's still wise to get some cash in your destination's currency ahead of time: For one thing, if you're trying to get on public transportation to leave the airport, a credit card is not going to get you very far. And currency exchanges at airports don't always have the best rates. Try to get the smallest denomination possible so you don't have to worry about breaking a large note as soon as you land.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Travel Insurance

We've said it before and we'll say it again: You never know how much you needed travel insurance until you're in a bad situation. A travel insurance plan protects you from lost luggage, unforeseen travel cancellations due to bad weather or strikes, and medical conditions. It's worth it to spend 4 to 10% of your total trip cost to purchase a peace of mind.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Anti-Theft Backpacks

These bulky backpacks may look a bit silly, but if you're traveling to a country with a higher risk of theft and pickpocketing, they can be a serious gamechanger. The original anti-theft backpack comes with a USB port, hidden zippers, and a water-resistant shell that's impossible to cut through.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
International Calling Cards

While T-Mobile and Sprint offer free international data roaming plans, getting a cheap local SIM card is still not a bad idea. For countries like China or Japan, you may need a local phone number to obtain access codes to use the free Wi-fi provided in airports, public spaces, or restaurants. It's also much easier to call a restaurant or attraction to change or cancel your reservations.
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