I usually organise my own travels. So when I’m entertaining the idea of travelling somewhere, I take my time to plan my time.
I still remember the liberating feeling of being able to organise and book our travel abroad the for the first time. It was exactly how we wanted, spending time on things we were interested in and finding the accommodation we preferred. I was hooked.
It’s getting easier to organise my travels every day with the appearance of new apps, and more and more tailored information on the web. Google is my best friend these days. However, I’d also like to share other apps I use when organising a trip.
Ways of travel
I’m very specific about air travel therefore I usually book my flights with airlines directly. The ones I use don’t seem to have last minute price drops any more so I try to book flights as soon as possible. They get more expensive towards the travel date.
Quick tip: If you’re not in a hurry, try to book your seats to the very end of the plane. You’re likely to have extra seats around. (But you will be the last to leave the plane.)
I’ve found recently that booking car rentals via the airlines gives you just the same prices but the big benefit is that you might be able to collect your reward points on this as well. They usually give you options for various rental companies and it will be displayed as well.
Quick tip: Getting full cover insurance from the rental company is usually more expensive, however at least in Europe most will give additional benefits in return, such as a second driver or no deposit.
Trains and buses are of course cheaper options with today’s parking and petrol charges, but information about them can be tricky to find as they’re usually displayed in the local language. Google translate can help you out here but check carefully before you buy a ticket online.
Quick tip: For European trains across the boarders the German railway system, Deutsche Bahn, has a lot of reliable information. I always start there.
You can be a fan of booking.com or airbnb, it’s up to you. I personally prefer booking.com* because it has a mixture of accommodation types. I recently found Agoda.com which seems to include higher comfort hotel offers mostly.
Quick tip: Stick to one site for most your travels, they all reward you with different discounts.
*This is an affiliate link to booking.com: you get 15 USD off, and so do I.
What to do
Tripadvisor is a well-known site to start but I’d like to highlight a relatively new site, Inspirock. It allows you to build a complete itinerary including accommodation, car rental but most importantly, local sights and tours as well. You can drag & drop on their desktop site to build your programme, and it also shows you the route so you can make it as effective as you want. I’ve used it recently to plan our roadtrip in Andalusia, Spain, and it was the best tool I had! (It’s totally free, too.)
I do use travel guides in print but mostly for city walks. But even then I might prefer google maps which is my single most used app for travel.
Quick tip #1: Download and use the offline maps function so you can save mobile data.
Quick tip #2: In the EU, the mobile data you buy in 1 country, can be used in all the others without extra charge.
Once I have put everything together, I print out all pre-paid tickets and the itinerary. It helps to make notes or just works as a reminder at the beginning of the day.
These are my tips for entertaining the idea of a trip and organising the days – what are yours?