The best travel tips: Packing hacks, cheap flights, securing your home and more


Warm white sand beaches, a tropical drink in your hand and several days of no work emails? Sounds lovely.

Vacations and travel are some of the things we look forward to the most, and also dread. Finding a good deal on a flight, packing all of the clothes you want to bring, getting your house ready for when you’re gone all feel like huge chores ahead of a trip.

Luckily, it’s travel week at CNET and we are making those chores less stressful. In this guide, you’ll get the low-down on how to save money on a flight, pick the right carry on bag and pack it well, and keep your home safe from burglars and disaster while you’re gone and more.

Armed with the right info, getting ready for your trip can be almost as relaxing as your vacation. Almost.

Find the best places to eat on a trip with the Chowhound Cities guides.

How to find cheap flights

Traveling the world is wonderful. But traveling the world for cheap? It’s even better.

Your first stop should be Google Flights. It compares flight costs across many different airlines and helps identify ways you can save more, like picking a different departure date or flying into or out of a different (but nearby) airport. It will even tell you when is a good time to book your flight, based on historical price data.

Check out the 7 reasons why Google Flights beats out other travel search sites.

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The only packing advice you’ll ever need

Packing your clothes seems so simple, that is until you need to leave for the airport in 30 minutes and you’re desperately trying to force your luggage to zip closed.

Next time, be strategic about how you pack. Whether that’s layering items in order of importance in your carry-on bag, or experimenting with different ways to pack your clothes in your checked bag.

We tested three different ways to pack your clothes — folding, rolling and using packing cubes — to see which one is best. As someone who always folds her clothes, I learned that rolling might be a better option most of the time.

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Oh, and before you pick the bag(s) to bring on your trip, save yourself time and added baggage expenses by measuring your luggage. If you plan to only bring a carry on, check with your airline to see their maximum carry-on bag size.

If you are frequently pushing right up against the maximum baggage weight for your checked bag (for most airlines that’s 50 pounds or 23 kg), invest in a luggage scale. It will help you keep your bag under the max weight and avoid excessive baggage fees. It will pay for itself, considering most American airlines charge $75 and up for overweight bags (British Airways charges £65, with Quantas it’s AU$78). A luggage scale will only set you back around $10 (£7, AU$13).

Pack the unexpected

It might seem odd, but packing a trash bag in your luggage comes in handy for dirty clothes.

Taylor Martin/CNET

When making your packing list for your next trip, there are a few unexpected but super helpful items to include that will make your trip a little easier. A plastic trash bag, travel power strip and dryer sheets should all make their way into your bag. Check out Taylor Martin’s guide to 13 unexpected yet invaluable things to bring on your next trip to see why.

Another item you should consider packing is Alexa. OK, so you can’t actually put the virtual assistant in your suitcase, but you can bring an Amazon Echo or use Alexa from your phone.

Alexa is super useful while you’re on a trip, from helping you stick to your itinerary to being your own concierge. Here are the reasons you should pack Alexa for your next trip.

Keep your home safe when you’re not there

You’re ready to head out on vacation, but is your house? For peace of mind, you can set up your smart home to protect it from burglars, water leaks, fires and other disasters. You can even save energy while you’re gone by setting the maximum and minimum temperatures on your smart thermometer. Here’s how to secure your smart home while you’re traveling.

If nothing else, consider getting a smart lock. They are a small investment that gives you piece of mind knowing that your doors are secure, even if you forget to lock them when you leave. With one, you can also unlock your door to let in the dog sitter or a neighbor, even when your thousands of miles away. Need more convincing? Check out the 5 reasons you should get a smart lock already.

Be a better Airbnb host

What if you’re on the other side of the vacation this summer, meaning you rent out your spare room or lake house on Airbnb? You want to protect your rental space when guests are there, and also offer them high-tech experiences.

You can do both with things like smart locks, video doorbells and motion sensors. Here are the there are 9 essential tools you should use in your Airbnb rental.

And stay safe as a vacation rental guest

The sad truth is that you might encounter hidden cameras in your vacation rental, even though they are forbidden by Airbnb and other vacation rental sites. Here’s what to do if this happens to you.

Looking for tips on what to do when you’re on your trip? We have you covered.

Hungry for more travel tips? Check out our 9 travel hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner. 

Check back on CNET everyday this week for even more travel tricks.


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