Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to plan the perfect trip

Tay and I are getting ready for a super exciting trip that is now less than 3 weeks away!!! As such, I thought it would be a good time to share our tips for planning an amazing vacation.

1. Sign up for flight price notifications in advance.
Websites like expedia and skyscanner will send you notifications every time the price of a flight you've been eying drops. Join their email list so you get updates on flights without having to check a million websites every day.

2. Be flexible with your travel dates.
Sometimes 1 or 2 days makes a difference of several hundred dollars. Be willing to leave on a Tuesday at 4 am or midnight on a Sunday and you'll get better airfare.

3. Know when to book a hotel and when to go with airbnb.
You can find some incredible deals on airbnb, especially in notoriously expensive cities like Paris and London. There are a lot of places in Europe (and around the world) that have hotel deals that are actually better- you can stay in 5 star hotels for less than $80 a night, so split with another person and you're paying the same price as you would at a lot of hostels.

4. Don't trust Yelp and your 20 year old travel guide. 
Consulting food and lifestyle blogs written by locals is a great way to see the city like a local. Do exhaustive research on restaurants beforehand. Who's writing the reviews? Is it tourists or natives? Don't just take pictures in front of every tourist site- try to find local spots that are known for their incredible view or amazing collection of ceramics.

5. Don't make an itinerary, make your own guide.
Research the opening times, prices, reservation system, etc. of all the places you really want to go, then mix and match as you see fit. This way you can stop and explore random side streets, antique stores, cheese shops, and whatever else you see along the way without missing your 'must do' list.

6. Travel during the off season.
Flights (above the equator) between October and April are about half of what they are during the summer months. Yes, August is a convenient time for a family vacation, but it often means that a) the city will be all tourists and b) you'll be paying a premium.

7. Make a list of all the trips you want to do and create a realistic budget.
This is a great way to help you save for travel with a specific goal in mind. Do you know that you really want to go to Morocco next summer? Set a loose budget and start saving now! Be realistic, though- don't convince yourself that you'll get a flight for $500, you'll survive on $20 a day, and the exchange rate will change drastically to favor the dollar.

And here are some of my favorite sites to help you in your trip planning. Happy traveling!
NY Times 36 Hours- A careful curated selection of activities and restaurants in (basically) every city.
Time Out- Great resource for everything from museums and attractions to shows and restaurants.
Skyscanner- Perfect for finding the lowest airfare possible.
STA Travel- Great student travel resource.
Rome2Rio- Compares different methods of travel to find the fastest and cheapest route.

Yasi "Got all my travel plans figured out for the next 27 years"