I often get the question: How do you plan your trips.? What do you use? So I decided to write about this topic. But since it is a vast subject, I will break it into several posts: infrastructure, routes, and any other area you are interested about. Just leave a comment and I’ll make sure your question is answered.
When is about the travel infrastructure, I refer to flights, ground transportation and accommodation. If you want insides about other topics, feedback is welcomed.
When it comes to the flights of my trips, I do the booking in 2 simple steps:
Step 1: Identification of the best flight route, price, time, airline. For this I use:
1. Skyscanner.com because it takes into consideration the low costs airlines and nowadays you can search for the best price of the month.
Besides that what I appreciate the most of this website is that you can search by the cheapest destination on a certain date. For example you have a long weekend and you don’t know where to go, you just insert your departure hub – eg: Bucharest and destination will be Everywhere (yes you can type in Everywhere) and the dates you are interested in. And voila! skyscanner.com tells you the cheapest destinations you can fly to.
This works the best for short, direct flights.
2. Orbitz.com because sometimes it has better prices that the airlines themselves because of the agreements they have. Be aware that if you book your ticket with Orbitz.com all the changes (with any exceptions) you’ll want to make on your ticket will have to be done via Orbitz. This means an extra charge towards Orbitz plus the airlines charge.
Since orbitz.com is an US based company, you’ll not be able to search for destinations where US has embargo (eg Cuba).
Even you don’t find better prices, for long distance flights, Orbitz finds more routes than skyscanner.com.
3. Kayak.com because they may find flights(usually low cost) that skyscanner and Orbitz doesn’t. But this is very rare.
4. Low cost companies website. You may use Skyscanner.com or Google search to identify what low cost airlines flight to/from a certain destination and you get into their website to look for deals. Sometimes they have deals which don’t get into the flight search engines.
Step 2. Purchasing the flight
Ones I identified my travel route, I enter the airline website and I search it. Almost always in the airline website you can find the best price. Exceptions are: Orbitz.com or any other website they have agreements with to give promotional prices sometimes.
Some never ever tips:
- If you need 2 flights or more to get to your connection, you should book them all in 1 ticket, not separate tickets because in case something happens, the airlines make sure you get to your final destination without additional costs,
- If you need 2 or more flights to get to your destination, don’t use low costs airlines because usually they don’t get responsible of any missed connection flight, and anyways they let you book only point to point flights, not with connections (see tip number 1),
- If u have connections on 2 different tickets, or coming from international flight to a national one, leave 2 days in between for missed flights, lost luggage, etc. Of course usually nothing happens. Till it happens.
Europe has got the fantastic German national railway platform – bahn.de. There is an app, an website and even some railway companies use this platform for international (European) connections. Download the app and you’ll never have to worry for your train connections. It tells you times, changes, platforms, everything.
Outside Europe, I use the national railway system of each country.
C. Buses and Ferries:
I just Google Search for all the available bus/ferries companies in the country I am and I get into each website to see which one has the best offers. There are countries (eg Romania, Peru, Argentina) which have a centralised website with the companies, but most of the times the prices are higher, not all the companies are there or the information is outdated. So I play it safe and buy it from the company website.
When it comes to a place to sleep, I usually stay in hostels, shared room, and couchsurfing sometimes, but only in Europe for safety reasons. If I travel with somebody, then it can be that a hotel room for 2-3 people to be cheaper than 2-3 beds in a dorm (eg. France).
To find accommodation I look in the following order:
1. Hostels.com or Hostelworld.com – they are the same nowadays because Hotelworld bought hostels.com,
2. Booking.com to check if the hotel rooms are cheaper than the hostels,
3. Simple Google Search for cheap accommodation and the place you are interested in. Some places in the world have their own networks / websites (usually for bed and breakfast) which work better than the ones above,
4. Airbnb.com – it’s very popular now, but not necessary the cheapest.
5. If you go for a 4-5 starts hotel, it may be more convenient for you to book the flight and the accommodation with a travel agency because they have very good deals for hotels.
Nowadays, there are millions of websites and companies to help you plan your travel infrastructure, but in the end the prices are all the same, so personally I use the ones above to get the best offers in a very short time. If you have any suggestions/things you would like to know on this topic, just leave a comment and I’ll get you the answer.