Some may call it cheap. At Airfarewatchdog, we call it being smart with your money. For the best return on your dollar, consider adding these splurge-worthy items to your travel arsenal.
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Luxuries Even Cheap People Should Buy
A Quality Carry-On Bag
Cheap (AKA smart) people have a strong aversion to paying optional fees, which is why having a good carry-on bag is key to skirting bag fees. And it’s not enough to have a small carry-on these days, as the airlines with the most cost-effective airfares supplement their bottom line by shamefully charging for the use of the overhead bin.
Avoid dolling out a single cent by employing a bag that’ll fit under the seat in front of you. At only 22 by 11 inches when stuffed, this expanding travel backpack from Peak Design fits underneath even the tiniest of the ultra-low-cost airline seats. Plus, its 45-liter capacity fits an insane amount of stuff, including a laptop, yet shrinks down to daypack size, too.
Nothing kills a trip faster than wearing painfully uncomfortable shoes. Invest in footwear that promotes orthopedic health in whatever activity you’ll be undertaking.
Seeing the sites and museums in Europe? Allbirds is often found on “most comfortable walking shoes” lists. Taking on the Inca Trail? Look for top-notch hiking footwear like the Breeze LT Low GTX (available in men's and women's sizes) from cult-followed Vasque. Cheap isn’t crazy, so break the boots in before setting out on the trails!
Only one other common experience is as troublesome on a trip as sore feet; that’s walking around with wet clothes. Both of these are preventable with the right gear, of course. Unless you’re traveling to the desert, always pack waterproof pants and jackets.
A Good Gear Bag
Even cheapskates like us sometimes have expensive hobbies, and thus, expensive equipment. Protect your investments from potential damage with the best bag for your gear.
I like messenger-style bags for quick access to my camera, so I’m eyeing the photographer-designed Everyday Messenger from Peak Design. Traveling with your drone? Lowepro has a guide on how to choose the best bag for drones. If you're looking to tote your laptop, search no further than the Custom Prospect Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2 (the the makers of one of the best reviewed laptop briefcases around), a customizable bag that gives you great range for your money.
Ultimately, don’t let your cheapness be what makes you spend even more, should the unthinkable happen and your gear be damaged. Go with a gear bag from well-reviewed brands that invest in quality materials, intelligent designs, and are stylish to boot.
A Durable Phone Case
I’m flabbergasted whenever I see someone without a phone case. This is especially egregious during travel. When accessing the phone’s camera all day long, the potential of dropping the phone is higher. Whether iPhone or Android, invest in the best phone case for your model.
Global Entry Membership
What is money if not for the exchange of your time and energy? Knowing that, put a dollar value on the amount of time and hassle endured at TSA and customs lines.
If you seldom fly, then keep that money in your pocket, but if you’re on a first-name basis with TSA agents, it’s time you invest in a Global Entry membership. Memberships are five years long, so the $100 investment is only $20 annually.
Check with your credit cards: some reimburse the expedited-security membership costs.
Again, how much are your time and energy worth? I’ll gladly pay the difference for nonstop vs. connecting-flight travel if it guarantees I arrive at my destination sooner, avoiding potential pitfalls like missed, delayed, and even cancelled flights.