Planning a trip can be stressful. Deciding where you want to go, let alone what you want to do or see, is enough to make you book the first package holiday you find online. But you’re wasting your money! If it’s just an all-inclusive beach trip you’re after then absolutely go ahead, but if you’re after an action-packed, culture-infused experience then read on. Because more often than not you can plan a better and cheaper trip yourself with just a little bit of research…
Whilst planning can be stressful it can also be really rewarding when you arrive and everything is already sorted and even paid for. Not all of us have the time or resources to travel full-time. So if you’re like me, with a full-time job, your trips are going to be scattered throughout the year and highly anticipated. You’re not going to want to waste a second of it.
So where do you even begin?
First of all, you need to decide where to go. And to do that you can narrow your choices down by deciding whether it’s a city break, sunny break or winter break.
You can find loads of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest – literally just by searching for hashtags. Instagram is good for getting a general idea, you can save pictures you like and see real people’s take on places – rather than professionals. Then you can use Pinterest to start physically curating ideas together. After you make a board you can pin photos and articles about places you want to visit to it.
You can probably guess where I’m heading next…
Next the biggest stress is finding somewhere to stay.
There is one very simple option for this – Tripadvisor! It’s an absolute godsend. Just type in the location and Tripadvisor will do the rest. It will show you all the options listed either by traveller ranking, best value, cheapest price or distance. There is nothing worse than turning up to a hotel and it being an absolute dump, so just spend ten minutes reading a couple of the reviews and it will put your mind at ease.
But take it with a pinch of salt, a few negative reviews doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad place.
Then decide what you want to do. Lonely Planet, a simple Google search and other travel blogs are great ways of finding out what’s actually worth it and what’s not. Then check back on Tripadvisor to see how individual trips and excursions rate.
After that, you need to book your flights. Skyscanner is the best website for this. You just type the dates and locations in and it will compare all the cheapest options for you.
Depending on how complicated your trip is you might want to create yourself an itinerary. Having your flight times, any cross-country travel, excursions and accommodation details in one place will save you a lot of stress when you’re travelling around. Especially if you’re moving from place to place.
An app which is an absolute lifesaver for this is Kayak. Every time you receive a confirmation email you can just forward it to the app. The app will then collate all the information in a timeline for you. It will then send you reminders for flights and important events and show you how far through your trip you are and what’s next – very handy. Most importantly you don’t need internet to access your online itinerary while you’re abroad.
And that’s about it – you’ve sorted your location, accommodation, activities and flights. Which means you can now go and enjoy your trip with minimal fuss (and more importantly no arguments!).