Brent and Michael's Secret Travel Hacks, Part 15
Always have disinfectant wipes, sleep better, ski for one-seventh the price, make a fabulous picnic, find the best airport coffee, get a better Hop On Hop Off experience, and finally get a decent VPN!
More of our very special travel hacks!
For other travel hacks, see Part One of this column here and Part Two here and Part Three here and Part Four here and Part Five here and Park Six here and Part Seven here and Part Eight here and Part Nine here and Park Ten here and Part Eleven here. and Part Twelve here and Part Thirteen here and Part Fourteen here.
Here are our latest hacks:
On a cruise or in a hotel and forgot disinfectant wipes to clean the light-switches and the TV remote? There will always be some available in the fitness center (for wiping down the equipment).
Traveling internationally and worried about unexpected data and phone charges? You absolutely should be, because they can be outrageous. Before leaving home, U.S. travelers can opt for international “day passes” at AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile (which already includes some modest free international coverage).
But assuming your phone is unlocked, you have other, much cheaper options. You can buy a local SIM card upon arrival in your new country — although the price can be wildly inflated at airports.
If you have a newer phone, you probably have eSIM capability — that is, you use an “electronic SIM card,” which is downloaded with the click of a button. This gives you the option to use one of the international coverage apps, like Google Fi, Flexiroam, or Airalo.
We’ve used all three — and hated both Google Fi and Flexiroam with the passion of a thousand suns. But we strongly recommend Airalo, which is cheaper and has much better networks and customer service.
(This post includes affiliate links, which means we may receive a small fee. This does not affect our coverage, which is editorially independent.)
Skiing is a fantastic sport that has become fantastically expensive. For cheaper skiing, this New York Times article recommends checking out American resorts that offer discounted passes to young skiers. But while this may get you discounted lift tickets for some family members, it does nothing about the rest of the sports’ sky-high expenses.
The solution? Ski a resort in Eastern Europe! The snow and natural beauty are often top-notch, the amenities have been greatly improved in recent years, and the prices will absolutely shock most Westerners. It’s easy to get luxury accommodations, lift tickets, equipment rental, transportation, and food for an entire week for well under $1000 USD per couple — about what a single day would cost in America.
Some of the very cheapest resorts in countries Michael and I absolutely love?
Jahorina near the fantastic city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics.
Poiana Brașov in Brașov, Romania, in a spectacularly beautiful area with lots of lively amenities.
Popova Sapka in the Dinaric mountains of North Macedonia.
Bansko in the charming mountain town of Bansko, Bulgaria.
Yes, to take advantage of these prices, you need to get to Eastern Europe, which can be a bit of a trek, especially for only a week-long trip. But flights from Western Europe are also often remarkably affordable.
And if you’re worried about massive cultural differences or no one speaking English, this may have been true in 1992, but it’s not anymore. On the contrary, these different-but-accessible cultures will make your ski trip even more memorable.