How to 'hack' your next travel trip

Going on a trip? There are ways to make airline travel, hotel visits, and car rentals a bit smoother. These tips are for those who have already “hacked” their travel by using points from an airline, hotel, or your credit card and who know all about curbside car rentals. These tips can give you an edge over other travelers without breaking any of the rules.

1. Use Silvercar

Available at only a few airports so far like Denver, Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, this rental car service strips away all of the annoying roadblocks. They only rent from a fleet of 2014 and 2015 Audi A4 sedans, so you always know which car you’ll get. An app allows you to register, pay for, and even unlock the car -- which you pick-up from a designated area without having to talk to an attendant. Dropping off the car is also just as automated. The service is running a promotion in January charging a $59 flat rate per day.

2. Search for morning flights

If you have a chance to book a morning flight, do it. Check sites like Kayak and restrict the search to A.M. flights. In my experience, the most commonly delayed or cancelled flights happen later in the evening when crews cannot be called in. If your flight is delayed or cancelled in the morning, you can probably catch a different flight later. Want to catch an evening flight? It might be the last one that rolls out of the gate that day.

3. Turn travel setbacks into perks

Most of us get frustrated when there is a flight delay or a problem at a hotel or with a car rental. If you know the glitch was not your fault, accept the setback as a bonus instead. I recently had a flight cancelled due to a maintenance issue. It caused me a lot of headaches related to my job and meant that I had to stay an extra night at a hotel. I called the airline and explained how this was a major problem, and they offered me a nice voucher. See any problems that arise as an opportunity that’s similar to collecting airline points.

4. Try the MakeSpace service

I’m a big fan of innovations that make life easier. MakeSpace is like having a storage locker in the cloud, and it’s a boon for frequent travelers. The idea is that you can store a bunch of gear in boxes that are three cubic feet, or about the size of a typical storage bin in your garage. It costs about $25 per month. One example for a business trip: you can load up extra clothing and then have the boxes delivered to your hotel. To send them back to “the cloud” you just place the included shipping labels and drop them off with the concierge.

5. Track your luggage yourself with TrakDot

Don’t rely on the airlines to track your luggage. I recently used TrakDot on a flight to Las Vegas on Allegiant Airlines – who kindly gave me permission to test the device — to find out if my bag made it to my destination with me. I placed the gadget in my checked bag. When the flight takes off, TrakDot disables itself automatically. When you land, it sends you a text message to let you know the bag is with you. The $49 device, about the size of a car deck, uses a cellular connection and knows your location based on that signal.