Edited version of this post is here
How many of you have been planning -FOR SOOO LONG- to travel, but were too lazy to proceed with the planning part of their trips?
How many of you have thought that they’d rather plan it on their own to cut costs, then they failed completely at doing the right choices & ended up paying much more?
How many of you have been terrified to proceed with booking on their own, to avoid any unexpected turn of events?
I am here to tell you that planning a trip can be the BEST part of it. Yes the BEST…
I know you’re wondering “HOW come, it’s the most HECTIC & maybe STRESSFUL one?”.
Here is the deal.
When I plan for a trip there is some sort of routine that I always follow, this routine creates all the fun as I keep googling ahead of time about the best spots to visit, at what time of the year, what are my cheapest options, how to get there, how to move from one place to another, etc.
The 7 Benefits of Highly Effective Trip Planning
1. to have full awareness of the place/city/country that you are visiting,
2. to have a pleasant unique experience,
3. to cut expenses,
4. to visit unknown, untouristic, uncrowded places
5. to not experience a below expectations trip
6. to not be treated as a tourist, hence being ripped off
7. to really merge with the culture/locals/food of this place
Five Steps to follow
1. You have to ask yourself: What am I looking forward to during this trip? The answer to this question will make you choose your destination easily and the type of company that you could have. For instance if you want to spend a hiking trip you have to choose active/nature lovers/outgoing people, if you wanna travel for shopping then you have to choose someone with common interest. Otherwise your trip will be a TOTAL failure, trust me it’s NEVER about having your best friends traveling with you -who might not be like minded-, it’s all about choosing the right company with common interests.
2. You have to surf over the internet by googling keywords like: must visits, most famous travel destinations, hottest travel spots, adventure travel, top destinations, most visited places in the world, etc. Then check out National geographic, & National Geographic Traveller websites to know what they do recommend, you shouldn’t miss to look for the trips & itineraries that they offer. Subscribing to several newsletters that send regular travel inspiration, ideas and updates about the hottest spots like Tripadvisors’, Frommers’, Roughguides’ websites is a very effective tool.
3. Once you find one or two destinations appealing to you, start focusing your googling on this/these specific destination/s by asking yourself several questions then googling their answers:
- What is the highlight of this destination? (which is related to question no.1)
- What are the must dos there? (i.e. hiking, rock climbing, museums, shopping, etc.)
- When is the best time to go? Which season of the year is it to pack accordingly?
- When is the high/low season?
- How do I get there? (airfare/train/car/boat/bus/bike)
- How many hours does it require to get there?
- What is the cheapest, safest and most convenient way to get there?
- Are there any interesting events/festivals/carnivals going on in this place/city/country? If yes, when? Do they sound appealing to me? How did former attendees of these events rate them? Are they for free or shall I buy tickets? Where to buy tickets from? Is it cheaper to buy them online or from a booth?
- What’s the minimum number of days required for such a visit? or what can I do during my 9 days visit for example?
- Are there any available online itineraries or guides to my destination? (DEFINITELY THERE IS)
4. Once the decision is taken, start looking for the visa requirements as well as your way to get there (airfare/train/car/boat/bus/bike) & your accommodation.
As for flights
– I check the websites of each airline company –Egyptair.com, Swiss.com, etc- then I compare their prices with momondo.com, hipmunk.com, kayak.com, skyscanner.com, edreams.com
– If you are traveling inside Europe then easyjet.com, ryanair.com & swiss.com could be the cheapest and most practical options to move from one country to another, flights could cost you up to 10€ if you book early.
– I choose the cheapest flight with the minimum number of transits.
– I book online since it’s usually cheaper -don’t forget to check the refund policy.
As for any other ways of transportation
– I google or ask friends who have been to this place before.
– If you are visiting Europe, then you have to check the seat61.com as it is EXTREMELY informative.
As for accommodation
– I usually check hostelworld.com, hostelbookers.com -mainly if I’m going to stay in a hostel- that offer different types of accommodation hostels, hotels, camping, BBs & apartments and booking.com as it sometimes offers good deals. For apartment rental wimdu.com & apartments.com (which can be a good option if traveling in groups). I also check the facilities offered by each & every accommodation.
– After finding good deals, I start checking on googlemaps their location. I always prefer to check in places in the city center or 10min walk from it -to know where is the city center, google <city’s name> city center.
– Then I start reading reviews about the hostel/hotel/apartment on Tripadvisor as well as the website itself. If the rating of the place is high & the positive reviews are more than the negative then I consider it as an option. If not, then I exclude it from my options.
– I choose my top selection, then proceed with the booking with a valid credit card -don’t forget to read the cancellation policy.
5. Next step is preparing your itinerary according to your budget and number of days that you are willing to spend. I usually prepare it through all the researches that I have already made in step 2, but in more details, by reading reviews and watching videos & photos, I also buy a Roughguide or a Lonelyplanet guide as they are widely sold in Egypt. A physical guide book is my true helper and friend during any trip, as it covers all the history, maps, opening hours.
– In some countries; students get discounts on their tickets as well as people aged 25 years or younger (in some countries it is 26).
– ANYTHING could be booked online including museum tickets, tours, transportation cards, car rentals, shows, etc.
– Buy a transportation pass according to the number of days that you’ll be spending. And note that in some countries you pay a reduced price if the weekend is included in the pass, and that in some countries you pay a travel pass per day, per week or per month.