25 Jan 2015

Travel Tips: How I Plan a Trip

Planning a trip... I don't even know where to begin... Planning is difficult, overwhelming, frustrating, time consuming... pretty much all the words for stressful you can possibly think of. I'm not going to say it's easy because it's not. The people that say it's easy are either; a. lying to you, b. have buckets of money or c. went on an organised tour, where they didn't have to do any planning themselves. But planning is the most crucial and obviously the most expensive part of travelling. Hopefully I'll be able to offer some guidance to make it less stressful!

Book your flights as soon as possible

Okay, so this may add some pressure onto you and stress you out a little more but honestly the sooner you book it the better. The longer you leave it the higher the prices will get. 

Still not convinced? Let me give you a scenario. Let's say on a Sunday, you look for flights and are absolutely amazed that you have found a £406 return flight to your destination. £406! AMAZING! Two days later you look up the exact same flight and your heart sinks with disappointment when you see the price has gone up drastically. Then you question yourself. Why didn't  you just book the £406 flight when you saw it?! Why did you need to wait?! If you don't
have anything holding you back, you'll be better off booking them there and then. 

A little tip to avoid those flight raises, keep clearing your browser's history! Airline websites can detect when you've been looking at a lot of flights and will raise them the more you look.

I know, I know, I hate parting with so much money in one go too. This is why I book with STA travel. Depending on the flights you are taking, they will allow you to put down a £50 deposit meaning you get to pay off the flights in as many or as little instalments as you like. I love this because it means the money can come out of my account gradually rather than in one massive chunk and my bank account stays relatively replenished. STA also offer a "blue ticket" which is slightly more lenient than a standard ticket. It's always nice to have a little bit of flexibility with flights, just in case something does happen and you do need to change or even cancel your flights, STA have you covered. Rather than losing all your money which would be completely and utterly heart breaking you'll only lose a fraction of it, therefore only breaking a fracture of your heart. ;)

Create Moodboards

Moodboards are amazing travel inspiration and they give you a great idea of where you will want to go. I love making physical moodboards  but I use pinterest as a source for my images. I've only very recently started using pinterest and I absolutely love it! All of the images on pinterest have a description which means it's easy to find out where the photos were taken. 

Once I have found a selection of images I print them all off, draw a stencil of the country I am visiting and pin all the images onto the correct location. For me, this puts everything into perspective and ensures that my plans are realistic. There's no point in travelling across the country to see one temple that looks amazing. It will waste your money and your time because of it's obscure location. 

Don't Cram

It's easy to get carried away with everything you want to see, especially with big countries like America, India and China. I tend to travel over a period of 6-10 weeks which means that it's completely unrealistic for me to see everything I would like to.

 I remember my first trip to America, I naively thought I'd be able to see everything I wanted to in the short month I was travelling, that list included Texas, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, California, Yosemite, you get the idea . That bubble was quickly burst by the nicest old lady I have ever met. Sophie and I told her about our travel plans and she gave us tips and tricks for each destination. Then she said "remember the size of the states. I've spent an entire lifetime living in America and even I haven't seen it all!" We quickly realised our plan was completely unrealistic. Trust me when I tell you, you'll have a much better and relaxing time if you pace yourself and try not to be too ambitious. 

Finding Accommodation 

Accommodation is a little tricky. I normally look for the cheapest accommodation possible so tend to book through hostels.com, I always read through the reviews and base my decision on the rating of the hostels. Whilst I want to keep the cost as low as possible, I am certainly not willing to stay anywhere unhygienic, dangerous or places known for theft. I have to say, most of the places I have booked through hostels.com have been pretty good for what I've paid!

 If there are lots of mixed reviews on the hostel I would definitely recommend double checking on TripAdvisor! The people who leave reviews on there have nothing to gain from it, so will be brutally honest, making it very easy for you to decide whether or not you will want to stay there.

I'm also signed up to agoda and bookings.com, both of which offer great discounts off some amazing hotels, so if you have a little more money than me you can find some seriously good deals. It's also worth looking at Air Bnb if you're travelling with a partner/friends, this site has literally become my new best friend! There are some seriously amazing places for some seriously killer prices. I tend to book one of their hotels/apartments as an end of holiday treat! A kind of congratulations for surviving another trip.

Use Your Connections

Credit to tuimblr

Know someone that's been to the place you're travelling to? Demand them for their knowledge! (or ask them really nicely ;)) If you don't know them that well just have a flick through their photos on facebook! Asking someone who has had first hand experience of the country you are planning to visit is so much more reliable than trusting the internet. I always ask as many people as I know who have visited the place where they would recommend visiting, how much I should budget, how to travel between destinations, you get the idea. I've even gone as far to asking one of my old middle school teachers I haven't spoken to in 3 years! It's worth asking because they'll normally let you in on the little secrets that the internet hides from you or they'll put you in touch with people who are local to that area. Remember, it's not what you know, it's who you know.

I know this isn't a lot to go on, but I hope it helps a little bit with your planning! What are your tips for planning an adventure?

I have some really exciting news next post, so be sure to stay tuned!

S xo

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