Nusa Ceningan, Bali

My Travel Planning Tips…

Don’t worry guys January is almost over! It’s been cold, it’s been rainy, and quite frankly pretty miserable here in the UK this month. The only thing that has been getting me through is thinking about sunnier times ahead and planning where I want to travel and explore this year.

Deciding on a destination is the easy part, working out how to get there, where to stay and what to do can sometimes prove more difficult. If you are in need a bit of extra help in planning your next holiday, hopefully my travel planning tips may help you…


4 years ago I booked a flight to Australia, bought a backpack, and rocked up to the airport with no plan of where I was going, or exactly when I would be back. Depending on what kind of person you are this approach to travelling will either excite you, or give you major anxiety. For me it was a bit of both…

Typically I am a very organised person, but for this particular trip I had the time to just take each day as it came. For me it all worked out and I had the best 6 months of my life, but looking back I probably wasted quite a bit of time and money along the way.

I have learnt from experience that planned trips are usually more cost effective and time efficient. I work full time so I currently do most of my travelling during my annual leave and weekends. To make the most of the time I have, I try to meticulously plan my trips so I can fit in everything I want to do, within the time frame and budget I have. That is not to say I don’t like a bit of spontaneity now and again, as I am always up for a random adventure!


These are my travel planning tips…


1. Shop around for flights & hotel deals…

I go by a bit of a weird rule with this one… I always book my flights on a Tuesday!

 

I spend a lot of time on SkyScanner looking for bargain flight deals and typically I have always found the cheapest flights to book on a Tuesday. That is really not to say this is the only day you can get cheap flights, but there is logic to my madness…

Flight prices are usually inflated if you book a trip at the weekend. This is the most popular time for people to look in to making travel plans. Airlines and travel agents recognize this and they bump up the price especially for the occasion. The further in to the week you get you will usually see that the inflated prices you saw at the weekend have gone down, making midweek a much better time to book and get a good deal.

I always use SkyScanner to compare flight prices. I like that they have the month view functionality, which shows you the cheapest days on the month to fly on. Friday and Sunday flights are usually more expensive, so if your planning a weekend away it could be worth looking in to Thursday to Monday flights instead to get a better deal.

For hotel comparisons Agoda is a great website to use to check you are getting the best prices. I personally like to book through Booking.com if I want a hotel, and Airbnb if I want an apartment. I don’t usually like to book packages as I have always found they work out more expensive, however Ebookers and Kayak are great sites if you prefer to book everything together in one place.

If I ever need a rental cars I always use Rental Cars.com to book. This website compares all of the rental car companies in the destination you are hiring from to make sure you get the best price.


2. Sign up to a reward schemes to get freebies & discounts…

I always try to fly British Airways, or one of their One World partners, solely for the reason that I collect Avios points. For 16,000 Avios points you can pay for a return flight to Barcelona (excluding taxes). It’s a no brainer really… sign up, fly, collect points, get a free trip…

Even if you do not fly very often you can still collect Avios points! There are multiple ways to collect, and all points collected are transferable to redeem against One World flights. I personally use the Llyods Avios Reward Card to collect mine.

Just like with flights you should sign up to any rewards programmes hotel booking sites offer. I am a genius member on booking.com and get exclusive loyalty discounts whenever I make a booking, so it is well worth it.

For all bookings you make online it is also always a good idea to check cashback sites to see if you can get any money back from your booking. I usually use topcashback and quidco. Most hotel booking website usually have some kind of offer. Last year I made around £100 just by using cashback services when booking my travel, every little helps 🙂


3. Check the weather & travel advisories of your destination before you book…

 

One thing that can ruin your holiday instantly is bad weather, it is always worth checking out what the typical weather is for your destination at the time you are planning to travel. 

The power of the internet makes this super simple, I normally check the metoffice website to see what the weather is due to look like in the month I am travelling. If I am planning a trip somewhere in Asia I will always use the website  SelectiveAsia. It is a great place to find loads of information on popular Asian holiday destinations including a month by month view on what the weather should be like, which helps me make sure I do not accidentally book to travel in rainy season as I did with Thailand (above)!

It is also worth checking if there are any travel advisories that could ruin your trip… When I was travelling to Bali there was a high alert on active volcano Mt Agung. The risk of volcanic eruption was so severe that thousands of people living within a 12km radios were evacuated from their homes. A natural disaster is pretty hard to predict, but there can also be other warnings you should be aware of before you travel. Gov.uk keeps their site up to date with anything you would need to know about.


4. Do your research…

It is the worst feeling ever to turn up at your long awaited holiday destination and realize you are in a rubbish hotel or bad location. The best research you can do is seek advice from people who have already been there, done that and got the t-shirt. The ideal situation is that you have a friend that can give you some top tips tips, if not trip adviser is always a good shout, or my personal favourite research tool is of course travel blogs.

I really like to read about other peoples experiences for tips on the best locations, places to stay, things to do in the area, and most importantly the best restaurants to eat at. Blogs usually give you a really good idea of what to expect from a destination and how to make the most of your time. You don’t want to get to your last day of your trip and realize you have missed out on all the best bits!

Some of my favourite travel blogs are…

Where’s Mollie

The Blonde Abroad

We Are Travel Girls


5. Pack Light…

 

My travelling backpack started out at 18kg when I first left for Australia… 6 months later when I returned the weight of my bag had crept up to 25kg! My poor backpack has so many holes in from me dragging it around as it was too heavy for me to even pick it up and carry on my back. After this trip I vowed to get better at packing and only take with me exactly what I need…

I usually now only take a small hand luggage suitcase on every trip I go on, no matter how long I am going away for. I plan my outfits before I leave to make sure I do not over pack clothes (sometimes I still get a bit carried away). I buy most of my toiletries/suncream when I get to my destination, so I can just take my one bag of essential 100ml liquids through security at the airport. I also save myself luggage fees, which on budget airlines can add an extra £50 to your booking. Plus there is no waiting around at the other end for my case to come out, meaning I can get out of the airport much faster.

To make sure I fit everything I need in my hand luggage I use packing cubes to compress my clothes and fit lots in to a small space. I roll clothes rather than fold, and stuff socks and smaller items in to shoes. One thing I learnt on my recent trip to Bali is that you should always take an emergency first aid kit on your travels. You never know when you might need it.

Just make sure you don’t forget your passport 😉


Hopefully this post may inspire you to start planning your next trip in the most time and cost efficient way… I am always looking out for new ways to research and book trips. If anyone has any good tips for me I would love to hear them, make sure you leave comments below 🙂

2 Comments

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