One of my favourite parts of travelling is the planning process. I love going through websites and guides, checking out my options, and the thrill I get when I discover a great deal, or a new idea that takes my holiday to the next level. Below, I’ve shared with you three of my top tips when it comes to planning your next trip.
- Trip Advisor Is Your Friend. Trip Advisor is one of my most used resources while planning a trip (and while travelling!). While a lot of the reviews on there can be super frustratingly nit-picky, it really does give you a good idea about a hotel/tour/activity before you go. Generally, I pay attention to the rankings and the spread of the reviews. I also look at the age of the reviews (a negative review from five years ago is very unlikely to reflect the current state of the hotel/tour/etc), and if there are recent negative reviews, how many of them are nit-picking and how many relate to an issue that comes up frequently within a sixth month period. Using this basic filtering, you can soon get a relatively balanced opinion about something. I generally cross-reference this with other reviews, such as those available on booking.com to make sure there’s no massive discrepancies. Trip Advisor is also great for solo travellers as they have a specific review filtering option based on travelling alone. Want to know if the hotel you’re interested in is going to be filled with loud families or loved up honeymooners? Let other solo travellers let you know!
- Do You Need A Tour? So many people I know automatically want to book themselves into a guided tour when travelling. There’s nothing wrong with organised touring (especially if you are young and on a budget – so many of my friends swear by Contiki/etc.), but frequently you’re locking yourself into someone else’s itinerary when it’s just as easy (if not easier) to do it yourself. This isn’t always the case – I’m currently booking a trip for my parents to Vietnam. They want to go to Sapa and Halong Bay before my brother and I join them, but as they’ve never been to Vietnam and are unfamiliar with the areas, I’m only looking at tours for them. However, tours such as those that travel around the USA or Europe are totally unnecessary unless you really want that tour experience (read: in the case of young people, a two week party holiday). Travelling by yourself allows you to figure out your own itinerary, stay in a location for as long as you want (not how long the tour guide wants), lets you choose your own hotels, and generally means you’re not stuck on a bus with forced narration for half your holiday.
- Check All Of Your Options. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s one of my golden rules of travelling: never book anything until you’ve thoroughly researched every option. That might look like looking up the same hotel on a bunch of different websites (sites such as Trivago do this for you which saves time, but I personally prefer to double check all of the main sites myself), or spending a few hours researching all of your different tour options (especially for day trips – it might turn out it’s only a little bit extra to arrange a private day trip vs. a coach tour, something which often makes all the difference), or just rechecking travel guides and recommendations to make sure you’re not missing something amazing by sticking to the most well known places/plans (not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s usually how I travel! But you don’t want to miss a perfect opportunity because you didn’t look further than the front page of Lonely Planet). A little bit of research can go a long way, and take your holiday from great to extraordinary.
What are your top travel planning tips?