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Confessions of a Travel Junkie: Money (and Life) Saving Secrets

Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Confessions of a Travel Junkie.

I travel a lot, and I’m a fairly terrible traveler.
I always forget something important. (Like a pair of heels for my weddings.)


I’ve never been able to sleep in a sitting position, and I’ve had panic attacks before boarding a plane to the other side of the planet.


And I get homesick.


But I travel anyway. Because I love it, and travel grows me.


Every time I go on a big trip I see the world and my life differently.

I believe it’s essential to personal development.

That’s why I’ve developed a bunch of strategies to make those big trips easier, safer, and more affordable.


Here’s my Checklist of Money (and Life) Saving Travel Secrets


  • If you’re a United States citizen, get a Global Entry card. For $150 you’ll skip to the TSA pre-check line on domestic flights, and you skip the customs lines when you get back home from trips abroad. I believe that $150 buys you 5 years of speed and convenience.


  • Make sure you have enough time on your passport for the country you’re visiting. I wasn’t allowed on the plane to Bali one year, because I had less than 6  months on remaining on my passport!


  • Pack 2 credit cards that do not charge transaction fees, and check the bank charges on your ATM card before you go. This’ll save you a ton of cash! Also, make colored copies of your cards and your passport, and hide them in multiple locations, just in case. If your ATM card doesn’t work in a country, you can usually withdraw cash from a Mastercard or Visa. (Carry both.)


  • Warn your banks that you’ll be leaving the country. Have them pre-authorize dates and locations to use your credit cards and ATMs.


  • Intercontinental flights are freezing cold. Pack lots of layers for the flight. And slippers for trips to the bathroom. I dress for winter when I’m on the plane, and then I strip to summer clothes before I step outside (in Bali).


  • Get frequent flyer miles with your credit card. Choose cards that give you 1 mile for each dollar you spend. Cards that give you points general give you 1 penny for every dollar you spend. Ick! And get a card that gives you lots of bonus miles. My favorites are Chase Ink and Chase Sapphire. No foreign transaction fees, 1 dollar = 1 mile, and a 40,000 mile bonus (will take you round trip almost anywhere in the world) when you join. I travel round trip to Bali in Business Class–for FREE–on my frequent flyer credit card miles…


  • Pack peppermint oil and sniff it to clear your sinuses in that dry airplane air.


  • Book an airport pick up with your hotel. Most hotels have a fixed price for pick up, and your driver will know where to take you. Much safer than choosing a stranger at the airport.


  • Pack flip flops for your feet! Especially if you’re going somewhere hot or somewhere hot and rainy.


  • Get a universal adapter (or 2, or 3) to charge your appliances.


  • Bug spray, sun screen, a hat and sunglasses. With climate change, you never know what to expect at your destination. By the way, that nice smelling herbal stuff does NOT work as well as toxic DEET. Given a choice between malaria and DEET, I choose DEET.


  • Pack cash. Some countries are almost entirely cash based. If your cards aren’t working, and the banks are closed, you’ll be glad you have that cash ready! And make sure your cash is BLEMISH-FREE. Many banks won’t accept American bills that are torn, marked, or wrinkled. I kid you not.


  • Try strange foods and customs. That’s the whole point of travel. Expand your experience. Be polite. Be respectful. Be adventurous.


  • Melatonin and/or CBD oil to help you sleep at night.  When you first arrive at a drastically new time zone, resist the urge to nap. Stay up until bed time in your new location, then use these natural, non-habit forming aids to help you reset your body clock.


  • Noisy neighbors? A free “white noise” app on your smart phone is a life saver. Put in your earbuds and sleep through anything.


  • Pack “Airborne” brand fizzy tablets to stay healthy while traveling. Drop one in a glass of water one on the plane, and take another one at the first sign of not feeling so well.


  • Don’t be afraid to seek medical help in foreign countries, especially if you’re from the United States.  Odds are you’ll get first rate care for a fraction of what you’d pay at home.  Devin and I have always had good experiences when health issues came up in other countries.


  • Double and triple check: did you pack your chargers and power cords for your computers/phones/tablets? (And back up your computer on an external drive before you leave, obviously.)


  • Put a vacation hold on your newspaper and mail. Get a house sitter or a neighbor to keep an eye on things while you’re gone.


  • The 2 most important words to learn are “Thank you” and “Hello” in any language.


  • Put some money on your SKYPE account. You can call home for free or cheap with SKYPE.  (Zoom gets all the glory these days, but SKYPE lets me call phone numbers directly without the recipient needing an app.)   It’s the greatest thing!  And set up whatsapp on your phone for free calls to everyone who has a whatsapp account.


  • A Google Translator app makes travel and communication easier than it’s ever been.


  • Be super flexible. Weird, unexpected things are going to happen, guaranteed. It’ll make a great story


The Good News

The good news is you don’t have to get it perfect. I never do! Just be nice. Be careful. Most people in the world are friendly and helpful. And you’ll learn what you need along the way. OBVIOUSLY… if you can travel with the love of your life, that makes everything better.


Covid-Era Updates

I still tend to be on infection-cautious side of the sprectrum, so when I found an epidemiologist who travels constantly and never gets sick, I paid attention to how she travels:

  • A good mask for the plane. I recommend a disposable KN95 mask or a reusable flo mask.
  • A lightweight, portable air purifier to clean the air around you.
  • Enovid nasal spray reduces the risk of ANY airborne infection by 99%. It’s the only nasal spray I know of that has been tested and approved as effective by multiple countries. My husband doesn’t mask anymore, but Enovid has kept him Covid/Flu/RSV free this whole winter.

Check a country’s health requirements before you travel. Bali finally dropped it’s Covid vaccination requirement in late 2023. (Even during the height of the pandemic Bali was one of the safest refuges on earth, perhaps because of the perpetually warm climate, and almost all of its houses and restaurants are open-air.)

Got some travel tips of your own?

Share your own experiences and travel hacks below!

  1. Ester says:

    Grear post! Thank you very much for sharing these tips.

    1. Morgana says:

      My pleasure, Ester! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

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