Need more luggage space or wondering how to clear immigration faster? These are the top travel hacks you should know for a fuss-free trip!
From our travels, we know that the journey is not always smooth sailing. We’ve had our fair share of missed flights and trains, running out of luggage space, and even forgetting to submit our SG Arrival Card 😅
But hey, we take all these in stride as lessons to learn. So from one traveller to another, here are a couple of travel tips and hacks you can use for future trips!
1) Finding the best money changers in Singapore
Use online resources like CashChanger to check which money changer in Singapore has the best rates for the currency you’re looking for! For easier reference, we’ve compiled a list of places for popular currencies like Malaysian Ringgit, Japanese Yen, Euro and more.
*Note: As exchange rates fluctuate, do check online for the updated numbers!
2) Losing fx while paying with cashless means
If you ask us, cashless is the way to go but credit cards often have lousy exchange rates and some even charge an extra fee for each transaction. Our solution to that is multi-currency cards! However, take note that some of them may charge a withdrawal fee for certain amounts of cash.
Check our comparison table above for which multi-currency card suits you best 😉
3) Remember to submit your SG Arrival Card — it’s free!
Whether you’re a local resident or foreigner, you’d need to submit your SG Arrival Card (electronic disembarkation/embarkation (DE) card) within three days (including the day of arrival) before arriving in Singapore.
The exceptions would be:
– Singapore citizens, permanent residents and Long-Term Visit Pass holders arriving by land (Tuas or Woodlands Checkpoint) don’t need to submit SG Arrival Card
– Travellers transiting through Singapore without seeking immigration clearance
After clearing immigration, foreign visitors will also receive an electronic Pass (e-Pass) via the email address declared in the SG Arrival Card! Take note that you’ll need this for hotel check-ins, casino entry and even tax refunds.
If you’re forgetful like me, you’d probably be looking for the form online and rushing to fill it up right before passing through immigration.
To make your life easier, download the MyICA Mobile app (iOS/Android)! Simply scan your passport and it’ll auto-save your details for future trips. For those travelling with friends or family, you can add up to nine members to fill up the form in one go. Group profiles with customised group names can be saved and used for future trips too!
*Note: Be wary of commercial entities and websites providing paid services for submission of the SG Arrival Card as the SG Arrival Card submission is free.
4) Always running out of luggage space
For those who tend to overpack on trips, here are a few travel hacks to help you maximise your luggage space:
– Use packing cubes to organise and compress your clothes: it reduces any empty spaces in between
– Find alternatives that are compact but still serve the same functions like the Mogics travel adaptor: instead of a bulky extension plug, get a smaller bagel-sized one!
– Keep your shampoo and shower gel in a travel-sized foldable bag: it takes up less space and makes your luggage lighter (compared to bringing the actual bottles)
5) How to prevent liquids from spilling
Photo credit: @maphappy via Pinterest
The common method is to pack your liquids in ziplock bags but here’s a personal travel hack I learnt from my friend — place a plastic wrap between the bottle cap and opening! This foolproof method will ensure that no liquid seeps through any tiny spaces.
6) Getting lost when there’s no WiFi/Data
As avid travellers, hiking while overseas is one of our favourite things to do — especially since there are so many rewarding hikes around the world. But this also means that it’s easier to get lost, especially when there’s no WiFi or data connection when in the woods.
In these cases, our magic word is “OK Maps”. Basically, key this phrase into the search bar on the Google Maps app and you can download an offline version of the map section that’s on your screen!
Compared to a screenshot, your downloaded map lets you zoom in for more details. Of course, if you’re not a hiker, this hack also works in situations when your SIM card doesn’t work while you’re exploring the city.
7) Your checked-in luggage goes missing
Photo credit: Tile via Facebook
I’ve heard many horror stories of friends not getting their lost checked-in luggage back, so here’s our tried and tested solution. Attach a Bluetooth tracker like Airtag (Apple) or Tile (Android) to your luggage!
#Truestory, my friend lost her snowboard bag for 11 days but thanks to the tracker, she saw her bag travel from Melbourne to Fiji to Auckland, and finally to Queenstown where she was supposed to receive it just as she was taking a flight out. BLESS ✨
8) How to save money
Bring your passport along for tax refunds
Most countries have shops that offer tax refunds for tourists, like Don Quijote in Japan! So take your passport along when you’re out travelling because you never know when you can get some money back 😉
Flash your student card for discounts
Yes, student discounts don’t just exist in Singapore. For the young ones, remember to bring and flash your student card for discounted entry tickets to museums, theme parks and more!
Use aggregator sites to compare prices
Find the cheapest prices for flights, accommodation and activities by checking across various aggregator sites:
*Pro-tip: For accommodation, read the details carefully and choose those without breakfast as it’s cheaper!
For extra savings, use ShopBack to gain some Cashback when booking on merchant sites like Trip.com, Booking.com, and Klook 😎
9) Spending less on transport
Maximise your transportation pass
Planning to travel across multiple cities? Consider transportation passes such as JR Pass for Japan and Eurail Pass for Europe. We actually saved a total of ~S$55 using the 5-day JR Kansai WIDE Area pass to visit Osaka and its surroundings like Nara, Kobe and Kyoto!
Also look out for perks your pass has, like attraction discounts and free access to certain places.
Sign up for free walking tours
Our writer Irny (centre) on a free walking tour with Shih Heng (left), her local guide in Taiwan!
We know tours can be quite costly, but there are free walking tours you can join too! You’ll save money and get to know the city’s hidden gems through a local 🤩
In Taiwan, we signed up for a free historical walking tour where our local guide showed us city attractions and recommended his favourite food places! There are also free walking tours in Singapore, covering different aspects like culture, nature, and local food — if you’re visiting for the first time.
*Pro-tip: Continue to stay in touch with your guide so you have a local friend to show you around on your next trip there.
10) How to stay prepared for travel mishaps
When travelling, anything can happen (missed flights, lost luggage, overseas hospitalisation and getting pick-pocketed). So it’s important to buy travel insurance before your trip and have proof of the “mishap” for any claims.
I know a friend who had his entire backpack stolen in Barcelona — containing his passport, €400 in cash, an old camera and a tripod 😢 So he made a police report and compiled proof of ownership for his lost items (e.g. timestamped photos of himself holding the camera and money changer receipt) to send to his insurance provider.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get his items back but he did manage to claim ~US$1,092 from his insurance. As the camera was fairly old, he somewhat recouped around 80% of his loss!
11) Useful apps to make travelling easier on the go
Download these apps on your phone before your trip! We’ve mostly included those from popular tourist destinations like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and China.
Immigration: MyICA Mobile (iOS/Android) — to submit SG Arrival Card, access e-Pass enquiry portal to check your visit pass status, apply for Entry Visa and even renew your passport
Transport: Grab (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia), Uber (Japan), DiDi (China), Kakao Taxi (Korea)
Directions: Google Maps (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia), Naver (Korea), Japan Travel (Japan), Baidu Maps (China)
Finance: XE Currency Converter (check exchange rates), Splitwise (split bills), Global Blue (tax refunds), Wechat/Alipay (payment in China)
Bonus: Can’t find travel kakis for adventurous trips
On a TTI Experiences trip, you’ll get to visit some of the world’s coolest destinations and try out cool activities (like staying with reindeer herders), while making new friends! Join our Telegram group or look out on our socials for any upcoming trips and we’ll see you there 😉
Download the MyICA Mobile app before your next trip
Photo credit: ICA
The MyICA Mobile app is a one-stop platform for you to access all of ICA’s e-Services on-the-go. Here’s a recap of the perks:
– Auto-filled SG Arrival Card by scanning your passport (save your profile for future trips!)
– Big travel groups like families with children can create group profiles (with personalised group names) to submit the SG Arrival Card together (up to nine pax)
– Singaporeans can apply or renew their passport through the app (it’ll extract your info from Singpass so all you need to do is upload your photo)
– Foreign visitors can apply for entry visa, access e-Pass enquiry portal to check your visit pass details (including the last day of stay allowed in Singapore), extension of Short-Term Visit Pass or Long-Term Visit Pass through the app too
|Submit SG Arrival Card
|Submit SG Arrival Card
|Apply for Passport
|Apply for Entry Visa
|Apply for Identity Card
|Apply for extension of Short-Term Visit Pass
|Booking appointments with ICA
|Apply for Long-Term Visit Pass
What other travel hacks do you know of? Share with us in the comments!
This post is brought to you by ICA Singapore.