Skip to main content
By The Way
Detours with locals. Travel tips you can trust.
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

5 TikTok travel hacks that could save you money on your next trip

There’s more than one way to stuff the living daylights out of your carry-on

(TikTok; iStock/Washington Post illustration)

TikTok is an addictive, one-stop shop for on-demand entertainment, but it doesn’t have to be mindless. The app is full of useful tips for everyday life, including travel hacks. Once the algorithm
realizes that you are into travel content, your feed will start filling with dreamy drone footage of far-off destinations alongside tips and tricks for making your trips cooler, cheaper or more comfortable.

Not all hacks that rack up views are good, of course. We combed through some popular posts offering travel tips to find out if they’re really worth your time. Here are our thoughts.

How to book a beach trip this winter that won’t break the bank

Disguise a carry-on as a pillow

TikTok user @nolimitua found a loophole that allows travelers to bring an extra bag on their flights without paying an additional fee. Well, it’s less of a bag and more of a sack.

Because airlines don’t impose fees on pillows, @nolimitua recommends using a zip-up pillowcase to covertly store your stuff.

While it is a clever move, it only works if you’re someone who doesn’t mind schlepping a big pillow onto a plane in the first place. This hack is better suited in case of emergency. Gone overboard on the souvenir shopping? Throw your clothes in a pillow so you can fit your new finds in your suitcase.

Are PreCheck, Global Entry or CLEAR still worth it?

Score your own row (sometimes)

Among the traveling set, an empty row in the economy section is known as “poor man’s business class.” With your own row, there is no need to fight over arm rests or awkwardly climb over seat neighbors to go to the bathroom.

Cheap Holiday Expert creator Chelsea Dickenson shared a TikTok about how to increase your chances of getting a full row for you and a friend. When you are choosing seats before the flight, select the aisle and the window. Left with the option of taking a middle seat, other travelers will be motivated to go elsewhere, leaving your row with a seat to spare. Alternatively, travelers flying alone can book a middle seat and hope other passengers will opt to reserve more desirable aisle or middle seats.

The hack has potential if your flight isn’t fully booked. But as travel rebounds and flights are packed again, the middle seat will probably get assigned regardless of your scheming.

Find cheaper tickets at the airport

To save money on airfare, Kevine McMillan of @McMillansOnTheGo recommends travelers head to the airport instead of shopping online. McMillan says purchasing tickets on-site has saved her more than $100 on some tickets.

The catch? This hack largely depends on cutting out online booking fees, so it only works for the low-cost carriers that impose them. Travelers can use this trick on flights from Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit.

Pack these 8 things in your carry-on bag for the best plane sleep

Use a neck brace instead of a pricey travel pillow

After trying about five neck pillows without success, TikTok user @helloKristen said she had an epiphany. She wanted something that supported her neck like a neck brace — so why not just try a neck brace?

We tested this method back in 2019 when we reviewed different travel pillows. It does offer full support, but if feels way stiffer than a product that was designed with comfort in mind. But with braces priced around $9 online, it’s about three times less expensive than one of our favorite alternatives, the Cabeau Evolution Classic memory foam travel pillow.

Worried about looking like you’re faking an injury? The TikToker recommends buying a black brace so it looks more like a travel pillow and less like a medical device.

Use compression bags to avoid checking luggage

Alyssa Ramos’s TikTok account is full of travel tips. One of her most helpful videos shows how travelers can make more room in their carry-ons by using compression bags that are designed to expel air for a vacuum effect.

In her post, Ramos demonstrates how she can fit more clothes into her suitcase by laying them flat, shoving them into a compression bag and squeezing out the air to make them take up far less space than they would otherwise.

We stand behind this hack because compression bags are cheap and uncomplicated, and they also encourage travelers to try a carry-on-only approach to packing. The hack helps save travelers time and money that would have been wasted checking bigger luggage.