Holiday hacks – top tips for a stress-free getaway

You’ve been dreaming of – and saving for – this moment all year, but before you and the family head out on your big summer adventure, you’d be wise to try these holiday hacks to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

What is it about holidays? They're meant to be relaxing, yet the run up to your well-earned break can be anything but. From remembering to pack essentials to dealing with jet lag, there are all sorts of vacay stresses with the potential to ruin your trip. Hopefully, these essential holiday hacks should help take the pressure off.

Off on a camping holiday? Read: Camping hacks – brilliant tips and tricks for your next trip

1. Pack like a pro

pack like pro holiday hack

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

We all know the old packing tricks – like rolling up clothes instead of folding them, and stuffing socks into shoes. But technology can help, too.

Use a packing app, and never again will you arrive on holiday to discover you’ve left your sunglasses at home. Just input your destination, what you have planned how long you’re staying and who’s travelling with you, and you get a checklist of what to bring, right down to how many pairs of socks you’ll need.

We like Packpoint, which also pulls in local weather reports, so you won’t be caught out in a storm.

Download Now: Packpoint, free for iOS and Android

Luggage is getting smarter, too – Bluesmart’s suitcases have some genius functions that can be controlled through the Bluesmart app, available for iOS and Android. For example, you can lock your case from your phone. And when you are reunited on the luggage carousel, your case will be unlocked by your handset automatically.

They also have a built-in scale, so you can avoid excess baggage costs, and a 10,000Ah battery pack with two USB charging ports to power up any gadgets you’ve brought with you.

Best of all, though is the GPS feature. This lets you do something airlines often can't – find out where your case is if it ever gets lost in transit.

Buy Now: Bluesmart One smart luggage, £279, Amazon

 2. Scope your surroundings

table with map books and feather

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

Don’t travel without looking up your hotel/villa/campsite on Google Street View first. This gives a 360° view, so you can get your bearings and plot a route to the nearest shops, the beach and so on.

And if you’re going abroad, download a map of the area to your phone while you’re still in the UK – then you won’t run up a huge data bill or be caught out by a lack of internet access.

The app has detailed free maps that can be downloaded beforehand, covering everyting from big cities to tiny tropical islands.

Download Now:, free for iOS and Android

3. Beat jet lag

Does jet lag leave you needing a holiday after your holiday? Combat that tired, groggy feeling with the Jet Lag Rooster calculator. You’ll need to remember to fill it in a few days before you travel, but it will give you a sleep plan to help you adjust to your new time zone ASAP. Remember to use it again before you head back home, and you won't suffer the dreaded post-holiday slump.

Try Now: Jet Lag Rooster

4. Bring some tech for entertainment

sony noise cancelling headphones

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Travelling by plane or train? Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphone like this award-winning pair from Sony. They use a microphone to identify the noise around you and emit a signal to cancel out the sound. They’re best at battling constant noise, such as the drone in an aircraft cabin, but will need charging beforehand.

Buy Now: MDR-1000X noise-cancelling headphones, £299, John Lewis

A tablet to keep the kids quiet is another must – Amazon has just released a new version of its excellent Kids Edition tablet. The Fire HD 8 boasts a larger and higher-definition 8-inch screen, and its 12-hour battery life should get you through the longest bank holiday tailback or even a transatlantic flight.

Buy Now: All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, £129.99, Amazon

It's also wise to take a portable battery pack, which will keep your gadgets powered up while you’re on the move.

5. Avoid roaming charges

Avoid big bills with a roaming add-on from your carrier. This package of data, texts and minutes to use abroad costs extra, but ultimately saves you money.

If you’re a Three customer, check which countries fall under its Feel At Home policy, which lets you use your UK allowances at no extra cost.

Another option is to buy a Pay-As-You-Go SIM card in the country you’re visiting, or to rely on free Wi-Fi hotspots that you can seek out using apps like JiWire’s WiFi Finder, which covers 144 countries. Just don’t use these open networks to look at bank statements or other sensitive information, as they can be prone to hackers.

Download Now: WiFi Finder, free for Android

6. Bring a washing kit

washing holiday hack

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

Don't forget to bring an emergency hand-washing kit with you in case you get sun cream on your favourite frock. We like Dr Beckmann's super-concentrated Travel Wash gel. You only need one teaspoonful to wash a full sink of clothes.

Buy Now: Dr Beckmann Travel Wash, £1.49 for a 20-wash tube, Wilko

7. Ditch the phrasebooks

Who needs ‘Tricolore‘ or language tapes when you have Google Translate? Enter words by typing, speaking or holding up your camera against written text, and it will decipher them instantly. It can interpret between 90 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.

When you get home, check out 11 travel-inspired interiors every globetrotter will love.

Bon voyage folks! And if you have any top travel tips, don't forget to share them in the comments box.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.