Regardless if it is your first trip or you have traveled many times before, organizing and planning a trip can still be a challenge. From the travel to the accommodation to things to do and places to see, there is so much to do. Therefore it is great to have a plan and a way to stay organized. Here are some if my tips and tricks for organizing your travels.
Of course, there are many other modes of travel out there, but flying is probably the most complicated in terms of booking. These days you can book most train and bus tickets online as well as buying them at the station. You can use many of the below tricks for booking those as well, so keep reading. If you are driving to your destination make sure you get a GPS and look up where you are going beforehand.
Many companies have loyalty programs where you can earn points with your travels. You can also get point for hotel stays or car rentals, so it is worth looking into those. These points can then be used to book cheaper or free flights or other things. I have just booked a flight from the Middle East to Europe for free using my Miles. These loyalty programs can be especially useful if you travel far or frequently. It may even be worth to sometimes spend a little more money, so you can fly with your airline and earn points.
There are many websites that compare the different prices that different websites offer. These days there are many websites online where you can buy your flight tickets. Each website will have its own prices and conditions. These websites, such as Skyscanner (which is the one I typically use), will compare these prices and find the lowest ones. If you are in Asia, make sure to check out C-trip. While this is great, there are many advantages to booking directly with the airline. They tend to have very low prices as well the best offers for different booking classes and the best policies for luggage and cancellations. Use any options you may have to get the flight as cheap as possible.
These are especially common in Europe. With companies such as EasyJet and RyanAir, you can fly between European cities for as little as 30 Euros. You may have to book a little in advance and be a little flexible about the dates or the destination, but they will allow you to see much of Europe for very little money. I used one of these airlines (Vueling) to fly to Barcelona, so you can check out my impression of it here. Slowly we are also getting airlines which are not quite budget, but cheaper than many others, such as Vueling, FlyDubai, and Spring Air. There are great options for longer flights if you are not very picky about comfort.
You may be staying with a friend or family in your destination, but many of us will stay in some form of paid accommodation. Here are some of the best options out there today.
Book directly with your hotel or hostel
While Booking.com and other websites like that are amazing for finding options, they also cost the companies about 20% in commission. Having studies about and worked in the hospitality industry, I can tell you that hotels will do anything to avoid it. If you book directly on their website, you may get a lower price or the same price but a better deal with maybe breakfast included or other perks. You have nothing to lose by asking them or checking their website before booking through one of the Online Travel Agencies. If you need more tips on what to look for when booking, check out this post.
Be careful with AirB&B
While AirB&B is a great way for staying truly local, it also makes scamming a bit easier. Some of the properties on the website do not actually exist, so that can be an issue. My suggestion, check for comments, preferably over a longer period of time. This can be a good indicator that the place really exists and people have stayed there. Also, make sure you never go outside the app to make agreements and payments, because then you have no guarantee and if anything happens, AirB&B cannot help you. One of my friends has booked an AirB&B that didn’t exist, and it was such a horrible situation.
Unless you are staying in one city for the entirety of your trip, you will need transport to get from one place to another. If this is by bus, train, or car, you might find yourself overwhelmed. Here is my advice when it comes to transport.
Bus / Van
Buses are most of the time the fastest way to get from one city to another. In Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, they are some of the most reliable methods of transportation. They are cheap and easy. Most of the time you will just buy tickets at the station or organize them through your hostel, so no need to worry about them too much in advance, just schedule enough time for the journey. In Europe, one of the most well-known company is Flixbus, which does allow you to book in advance online, so make sure you look into that beforehand.
This is my favorite method of travel. It is the most comfortable since it lets you get up and move around while traveling. It may sometimes be slower, but you will pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes. In Sri Lanka, I actually took a train out of Colombo for 15 minutes just to see nature and water passing by. You can also meet some amazing people and have interesting conversations on trains. They just tend to be an experience more than anything else. In some Western countries, you can book tickets in advance, while in Asia you are better off getting them at the station. The only time you need to worry about train tickets is high season and public holidays, otherwise just plan for a travel day and arrange the details on sight.
Renting a car
Now this one will depend on your age. In most countries, you will not be allowed to rent a car if you are under 21 (or over 75). Even if you are in that age range, if you are under 25 you will probably pay more for insurance, since the rental agencies do not trust you. Therefore, if you are young, this might not be the best method of traveling. If you are adamant at renting, make sure you ask around. One of my friends got a really good deal once in the South of Spain just by asking around until finding the best one. Make sure you book the car early, especially if you are traveling in high season to get what you want.
Organizing all your bookings
Now that you booked everything, you have to make sure you keep track of all your information. I will give you some ideas regardless if you are a paper or technology person.
You will most likely get confirmation emails about everything, so you should put them all in one folder in your Mail app so you can easily find them. I also suggest you take screenshots of the most important info, to be able to find it even when if there is no internet connection. You can also find websites and apps to plan your trip on. I have not tried any myself but I have heard good things about them.
If you are a paper person, you will want to print all the confirmation emails. I suggest you get a travel organizer, which you can now get almost everywhere. They will hold your passport, your flight ticket and anything else you would need. You can also get a notebook to write down the itinerary and everything you want to do there. It will make sure you don’t forget anything you wanted or needed.
Do your research
When traveling, make sure you check the weather forecast in the city. If you are traveling from London to Peru in the summer, you might forget that on that side of the Globe it is winter and maybe shorts are not the best idea. For example, I decided to go to Sri Lanka in May, and when I looked I realized that it was monsoon season and could pack accordingly. It can save you a lot of pain to do a quick google search.
Make a list
I have found that making a packing list will save me from overpacking. Since airlines charge crazy amounts for overweight, I try to never have that issue. It is even more crucial when traveling with only cabin luggage. You don’t want to waste space on things you may not really need. It will also ensure not forgetting anything when coming back.
There you have it. Some of my travel planning tips. Hopefully, it will help you with your next journey. If you find these tips useful or end up using them, I would love to hear about it in the comments or on social media.