My Favourite Travel Hacks
I don't travel that much, but when I do, I try to make things as convenient and comfortable as possible. You want to hit the ground running in your destination and not spend your time there still angry about the flight over.
Get a neck pillow. It makes getting comfortable, and sleeping, on a flight that much easier. Although they are probably the most annoying item to pack as they take up so much room in your bag, so just tie it to the outside of your backpack.
And some noise cancelling headphones. I know everyone loves to pay out on BOSE products ('Buy Other Sound Equipment'), and I agree there are better sounding headphones for cheaper, but I haven't found any that perform as well with noise cancelling. They work best for filtering out a constant drone such as an aircraft. Not a dynamic noise such as someone talking in your ear. Try some out for yourself and see!
Choosing your seat
SeatGuru is an excellent resource to find the perfect seat for you. Just key in your flight number and it will show you the pros and cons of every seat on your plane.
Want to be close to the bathroom or as far away as possible? How about where do the crying babies sit? Prefer to sit up front so you can be first to unboard? You might even get lucky and find planes with the seat removed in front of you.
Note that a lot of airlines are aware of this and will either try to charge you extra for choosing your seats early, or for picking the more obvious seats such as exit rows. It still might be worth the cost though!
Why line up to board the plane?
You are only going to spend the next X hours cramped up, sitting down anyway. Wait until the boarding line is nearly gone and then waltz your way on to the plane. Use your free time for stretching or on the airport Wi-Fi.
Having said that, if your airline uses 'boarding groups' and you choose to ignore them, make sure you are organised (tickets handy, no stowed luggage, etc.) and won't be holding up anybody getting in the plane after you.
As I'm sure you have heard 1,000 times, you need to have your seat backs upright for take off and landing. But how do the flight attendants know? They check the angle of your seat against your neighbours! So if you are on the plane before your neighbours, just nudge their seats back a little bit to line up with yours!
Aisle seat arm rest cramping your style?
Put it up!
The guys who clean the airplane need to be able to put up the aisle seat armrests to clean the plane properly.
There is a secret latch, usually hidden on the underside of the armrest where it joins the rest of the chair.
Just be careful not to fall asleep leaning into the aisle as the flight attendants will run you over.
There are a bunch of good Reddit AMAs with tips from flight attendants. They have to deal with some horror customers, so by being polite and making their job easier, means that you will get treated well also. Extra snacks anyone?
Finding the local hot spots
Sometimes it's not always easy to research where you would like to go in each place. There are the obvious sites such as Trip Advisor, but for a more local flavour, pick the brain of your Taxi/Uber/Lyft driver! They spend their whole day in the city and talking to other locals and tourists. Most will usually know all of the local hot spots and scheduled events that you can hit up.