On episode 8 of the Travel Goals Podcast, we talk about how to travel plan like a boss. This episode is full of the travel planning tool and tricks that I use to plan my trips
Travel planning tips
If one of your travel goals is to travel plan like a boss there are so many tried and tested tools and methods out there.
If you want a detailed list of all the travel resources I use when planning a trip, head on over the travel resources page for extra information.
Some of the first things you need to figure out before you start travel planning is what is your travel style, how long will your trip be and what is your budget?
This is because there is a difference between planning a six-month trip and a weekend break.
If you are planning a long-term trip, make sure to download episode 3 of travel goals, where we talk about long term travel planning with Lucy Ruthnum.
These things all interconnect as you won’t know how much money you will need for your trip until you decide where you are going and for how long.
Travel planning for seasons
You’ll also need to consider things like weather, many countries have a wet season, so if you are planning to visit somewhere like Thailand for a beach holiday, you probably don’t want to visit during monsoon season.
Make sure to do your research ahead of time to ensure that you are visiting a destination at the best time.
Your trip style will also have a big impact on how much pre-planning you will need to do for a trip.
Deciding on a destination
First up is deciding on a destination. I normally head on over to travel websites, Pinterest, YouTube or the travel section of my favourite newspapers to get some inspiration.
I also check out TripAdvisor forums, travel blogs and travel guides like Lonely Planet.
For more off-beat travel ideas, Atlas Obscura can also recommend quirky attractions and unique things to check out in a destination.
Another fun way to pick a destination is to use Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” option.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with Skyscanner, it’s an airfare comparison website that allows you to compare flight costs to destinations.
The way the ‘everywhere’ option works is that you can select this option and from the drop-down list and Skyscanner will display a list of possible destinations, showing the cheapest place first.
It’s a great way of seeing where some of the cheapest destinations you can fly to are.
It might inspire you to visit somewhere completely different. You can download the app and search for flight deals on the go.
I also use the Kiwi.com app not only to book flights but to also manage my other bookings including hotel, car rental, even activities and tours.
This handy app also provides super useful information on airports including info on luggage storage, lounges and ATMs etc.
Definitely download it to your phone after listening to the show, it really is a great resource.
Flight deal email lists
I’m going to let you into another flight hack of mine and that is to sign up to flight deal email lists.
Sign up to services such as Scott’s Cheap Flights email list to get daily flight deals to destinations across the world. They have a free and premium email subscription service.
Their premium subscription service costs $49 a year and includes a range of premium-only deals, mistake fares and rare deals.
Jacks Flight Club
I also love Jack’s Flight Club, signing up to Jack’s Flight Club email list is completely free. By signing up You will receive cheap flight deals straight to your inbox for as long as you are subscribed!
They also have a paid premium membership option for a year that gives you access to all the deals plus a few cheeky extras such as first dibs on cheap flights.
If you are thinking about collecting air miles for your trip then check out The Points Guy to get expert advice on hacks on air miles and points.
They have comprehensive beginner’s guide that is designed to help you get to grips with points and miles as well as a newsletter for updates.
As I travel so much, I have started to plan in some lounge time as I am constantly in airports.
The best lounge resource I have found so far is Priority pass, the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program.
Priority Pass offers access to more than 1,300 lounges worldwide and provides meal vouchers at select airport restaurants across the world.
You pay an annual fee to be a member, depending on your membership tier, a fee to enter each lounge on top of the annual fee. Membership starts at £69 for a standard membership.
You can then use the Priority Pass app to get your lounge access. Enter the airport name or airport code that you’re in and Priority Pass will pull up the lounges or restaurants that you have access to, including photos, hours and amenities.
Planning your trip itinerary
Once you have got your flight sorted for your trip you can move on to planning your trip itinerary, including accommodation, activities and tours.
It’s at this stage you need to decide how much you want to plan. Do you want to create an itinerary for every day of the trip with activities and tours planned out or see what’s available when you arrive?
There are pros and cons to both sides. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that all your activities and tours are scheduled, so that you don’t waste valuable vacation time scouting out activities. On the other, it does take away the spontaneity of the trip.
Get your Guide
I use Get your Guide to book activities for my trips. Get your guide is a tour and activity booking platform that offers brilliant flexibility.
You can book, tours, tickets and trips and then cancel for free if your travel plans change.
The best thing about booking tours and tickets with Get your Guide is that you can Book ahead and skip the lines at the world’s biggest attractions.
If you want to be super organized on your travels, I would recommend using the TripIt app.
TripIt puts all your travel itineraries and documents by keeping them organised in one place.
You can set your reservations to be automatically sent to TripIt, which will let you view travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, hotel and Airbnb booking info, rental car reservations, ferry tickets and driving directions without ever leaving the app.
You can also share your travel plans through the TripIt app. This is really useful if someone is picking you up from an airport or train or bus station. You can get the app for free or pay for a pro subscription.
Planning your accommodation
Now onto accommodation. If you are booking your accommodation in advance, you can save money on hotels with a little research and planning.
I have rocked up to destinations without accommodation booked in my backpacking days but I kinda prefer to know where I’m staying these days, especially if I am on a work trip.
I tend to use price comparison sites such as Booking.com to secure great hotel deals on my trips.
This hotel metasearch engine searches a huge number of hotels websites and then instantly returns the lowest prices, so you can bag a great hotel deal.
I personally use booking as I like the fact that many properties offer free cancellation before a certain date. I like having the flexibility to change my plans if needed.
An extra hack is to use Booking.com to find good hotel deals and then contact the hotel directly to see if they have a cheaper price. This is great if your plans are firm and you don’t require any flexibility.
If you are travelling on a super tight budget, you should check out Hostelworld. You can search for a huge range of affordable youth hostels and boutique hostels in travel destinations around the world.
There’s also a range of perks when booking with Hostelworld including flexible booking, no booking fees and 100% Booking Guarantee.
Private rooms are also available to book if you don’t fancy bunking with your fellow travellers.
If you are looking for an alternative to hotels, then make sure to check out Airbnb. You can search for reasonably priced apartments, houses, cottages or even a spare room in someone’s home.
This option is sometimes a lot cheaper than booking traditional hotels. You can also use Airbnb to book quirky accommodation such as treehouses, traditional caravans, cabins and houseboats.
We love using Airbnb to find quirky accommodation such a traveller caravans, shepherd huts and treehouses.
We tend to avoid it in cities where Airbnb is a problem for the residents as we want to try and be ethical in our travels where possible.
New to Airbnb? Have £25 towards your first booking
If you aren’t keen on booking all the separate elements of your trip, then why not check out holiday deals on sites such as Holiday Pirates?
Holiday Pirates is a travel blog and app that publishes a huge range of holiday offers to destinations around the world.
You can sign up to the Holiday Pirates newsletter to get the cheapest travel deals for hotels, flights and package tours deals sent straight to your inbox.
Make sure to check out my exclusive Holiday Pirates interview for more travel tips.
One of the most important travel planning tips is to make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
Having proper travel insurance for your trip is a must. Make sure you get cover for all eventualities and medical support, should you get sick on your travels.
Whilst flight delays and lost bags can be a pain, it’s nothing compared to the nightmare scenario of running up huge medical bills because you didn’t get travel insurance for your trip.
When you have travel insurance with emergency medical benefits, it can pay for losses due to covered medical emergencies that occur during your holiday.
You can use price comparison sites such as Travel Supermarket.com to compare prices from various travel insurance in one place.
Whilst this is a great resource for getting travel insurance deals, make sure you are buying coverage from a reputable insurance company. This isn’t something you should skimp on when budgeting for travel.
Still need convincing? Read my travel horror stories article!
One of the best free apps I love to use when travelling is Google Translate.
It is an absolute game-changer, no more meal roulettes when trying to read a menu in a different app.
In fact, you can use the app to scan a menu and it will translate it for you, live on the screen when you use the camera function
Ideally, you should download the language you want ahead of time, so you can use it offline. Same goes for Google Maps, another one of my favourite free travel apps.
You can actually use Google Maps as a travel planning tool. Use the Google Maps Trip Planner to create your own map and plan out your trip.
Once you know all of the locations you want to visit on your trip you can create a set of markers on your map, so you can clearly highlight all the places you are visiting.
We used it when we planned our 3-week Michigan road trip as it allowed us to visualise our trip and how far the drive was between each location.
Google maps also let you write own notes for each location marker to help you remember important details for each location.
How do you plan your trips? What travel tools do you use? What are your other travel goals this month?
Tweet me and let me know, you can find me @travelgoalspod on Twitter.
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