Planning a trip in your home country or a short 2-3 business trip abroad can rarely be a very time consuming task. However, it’s almost never the case when planning a longer trip abroad, if you wish to have everything well prepared beforehand and get the best deals possible. The planning stage shouldn’t be taken lightly. A well planned trip, ahead of time, will enable you to put all technicalities aside during the trip, and allow you to enjoy it to the fullest.
So, what to plan and how you ask?! Well, the basics first, you usually need a return flight and a place to stay. If you don’t have a money tree growing in your garden, than you might want to look for the best deals available.
When I search for a flight, I usually start with Google Flights and Skyscanner. Both are great sources for finding the cheapest flights out there. Both flight search engines search for flights that are listed on most airlines’ websites. However, since they don’t return results from all airlines out there, you should always run a search on a couple of your local major online travel agencies’ websites. With those additional searches you might come up with cheaper flights and definitely get a full picture of what’s out there.
After you get a good idea about which companies offer the best prices, it’s time to move on to phase two – making sure there are no cheaper tickets! For example, sometimes, some airlines might offer a one-way ticket that is less than half of the price of a return ticket, therefore, you might enjoy an extra price drop if you buy two one-way tickets (although this usually isn’t the case, it’s worth the search).
To finish off your flight ticket research, always compare the lowest prices you have found on Google Flights or local flight tickets search engine with the prices offered on the airline company’s website directly.
You found the best flight deat? Awesome! Now let’s move on to finding accommodation.
The two mainstream options for travel accommodation are hotels and Airbnb. The two more adventurous ways are apartment swapping or Couch Surfing. When considering your type of accommodation you should first think about the things that are most important to you for the specific trip; location, privacy, price, facilities, cleaning and the desired experience. These should all be taken into consideration.
Airbnb, for example, might offer some more local living experiences and cheaper prices, while you might might have an unpleasant surprise finding that the place is not as organized or clean as you wished it would be. On the other hand, you can find places that offer bicycles or a rural experiences that hotels usually don’t provide, and if they do than it’s usually for a higher cost.
For a successful trip, the main question you should ask yourself is “what kind of an experience am I getting myself into?”. Answering this simple question will dramatically reduce the chances of disappointment.
The biggest hotel search engines are agoda.com, booking.com (both belong to priceline.com) and hotels.com. There are many hotel search engines out there, but I have yet seen a search engine which offered a better deal than these three. When booking a hotel, similar to flight tickets, I recommend to always check for prices on at least two website. You might find a surprising price drop.
The other two, less mainstream, options for accommodation are for the more adventurous individuals. Couch Surfing is a nice community of people from around the world who offer a couch or a bed to crash on, for free. If you like to meet new people and experience a true social experience than you might want to try Couch Surfing. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a host (offer a place) in order to be a couch surfer.
Apartment swapping is somewhat less frequently heard of but there are websites that offer just that and lots of Facebook groups and pages are dedicated to apartment/house swapping between different locations.
These are the basics for you to start off a worry-free trip abroad, while enjoying the lowest prices online.
Bon voyage! ✈