Whether you're a first time traveler, an amateur or you've been doing this for a while, you can always read up on helpful tips for your planning stage before traveling. It may seem overwhelming at first but I think the planning part is what gets me the most excited about my trips! Here are the top 11 things I keep in mind while I organize my adventures:
1. Fly with budget airlines
Do you want to pinch a few pennies on this trip? Use the budget airline in your region. Of course, since they offer low cost fares, you won't get the frills and thrills that you would expect from your typical flight with Delta or Lufthansa. You can probably expect less leg room, no television, flying into airports further out, and you'll have to pay for your drink and snacks on most low cost airlines. Since I am based out of Europe at the moment, the first budget airline that comes to mind is Ryanair. I must've flown on over 20 flights in the last year through Ryanair and honestly would prefer this airline if it meant I could travel as cheap as they come. For example, I've seen one way fares from Nuremberg, DE to London, UK for just 9 Euros! When I lived in Texas the year of 2013, Allegiant Air started a new route from Austin to Las Vegas starting at $80 roundtrip flights! I took full advantage of that deal and made a girls trip out of it a month later. Budget airlines are great if you're wanting to save some (or a lot of) money!
2. Fly out of cheaper airports in your area
If you're in a larger city or don't mind making a commute for better deals, find out which airport would be cheaper to fly out of. If the rate of the fare is cheaper than the difference in gas to get there, then why not? Sure, you might have to drive an extra 30 minutes but would it hurt that much to wake up a bit earlier? You're traveling, not sleeping! ;)
3. Don't stick to just one search engine
This goes for both flights and hotels. What I mean by that is don't just use Expedia and automatically think you're going to get the same price everywhere. Compare your deals. I WILL say that my favorite tool to use while searching for flights is Skyscanner! There's a lot of flexibility on this site and my favorite feature is that you can put your departure area and then type in "everywhere" for arrival to find the cheapest flights anywhere in the world in the cheapest month of the year! How neat is that?
4. Stay in hostels or apartments
When I go on group trips with my friends, it's cheaper and more convenient to stay in an apartment and split the costs. There's usually a kitchen with everything you need to cook a nice breakfast and eat with your friends in a fully furnished home. When you're traveling, you spend most of your day out and about. For the most travelers, you only need a hotel to shower and lay your head somewhere for the night. If you're on a low budget or don't mind sleeping in a dorm with other people, look into staying the night in a hostel. My top two sites for those sleeping arrangements would be Air BnB and Booking.com.
5. Switch to private mode or incognito
Visit amazon.com and add some items into your cart. Start a new tab in the incognito mode or use private browsing for Apple. This can also be done on Google Chrome by clicking Ctrl+Shift+N on a PC. Retype amazon.com and check your cart. It should be empty. By using private browsing or incognito, your history won't be saved and it's as if you never visited the site. So this helps with searching for flights because we all know how airlines like to play with our emotions and up the price once they've noticed we've been eyeing those deals. This is not ALWAYS the case, but I have seen it with my own eyes. I had one tab open for a flight from Munich, DE to Orlando, FL and the second tab incognito with the same itinerary but the price for the incognito tab was about $30 cheaper.
6. Use alternatives to flying
You don't always have to travel by air and at this point, I try not to fly due to my anxiety on flights now! Other ways to get to your next destination may be just driving your own car. In long road trips, your car may not be suited for it but you can always rent a car. In Europe, it's easy to hop on an overnight train and wake up the next day ready for your adventure. You could also take a Greyhound bus or for those who are in Germany like I am can use Meinfernbus.de. If you're trying to arrive to an island, instead of flying you can look into taking a ferry. You don't have to assume that you can only fly to get somewhere.
7. Ask about special offers and discounts
Speak up and ask! Or DON'T speak up and I'm sure someone else will pay cheaper than what you did for the same thing! When I remember to, I'll ask if there are any student discounts available. Even when I wasn't a student I would ask. Half of the time, I wasn't ID checked so anyone could have saved a few bucks.
8. Utilize rewards and loyalty programs
If all you have to do is give a name and email address to receive free offers and discounts, I'm in there like swimwear. Sure, emails tend to be annoying but I created a folder for discounts and deals so when I am tired of receiving notifications all day from Hotels.com I would set up a rule to have emails sent to that folder instead of my inbox. When I am looking to travel is when I'll check that folder and I usually find a deal waiting for me.
9. Calculate a budget and stick to it
Unless you're not on a budget... Then I guess do as you please! Spend that money you lavish spender! I created a simple travel schedule with budgeting all through Microsoft Excel and it works great.
10. Screenshot, save image or print important details
Imagine flying into a new country, you don't have service on your phone and you can't remember the address to your hotel or better yet, the name of the hotel. You can't read into your email or google without service. What do you do? Here's a solution: Screenshot or save the image of the important details that you can use without service. If you don't carry an external battery for your phone, I would suggest printing those details instead. I've learned my lesson, that's for sure.
11. Read the fine print
How many times have you heard this? How many times have you ignored this? Well stop right there. Don't be that one fool standing in line to check in for your flight without first printing your boarding pass to then have to pay a 50 Euro fee (thanks, Ryanair). Reading the fine print pertains to anything really. I was so excited to book my girls trip to Algarve, Portugal and must've skipped over the part where I needed to pay a 150 Euro deposit for the apartment I booked. I had already paid a 300 Euro deposit for the rental car just about 10 minutes before that so I was a very happy traveler at that point. :) Ha!
Can you think of any other great tips to keep mindful of while planning your next trip? Comment below!
If you thought this post was insightful and useful, please share this with your travel buddies and keep wandering! :)