planning and bookinG
We are passionate about travel and its benefits.
We want to take the pain out of planning and booking so it's easier for you to get going.
Check out our tips below.
Planning Your Trip:
Step 1: PICK YOUR DESTINATION:
You can't start trip-planning if you don't know where you want to go. It's a great big world out there...how do you decide?
Start by feeding your wanderlust. The biggest reason people struggle with trip planning, is that they don't make it a regular part of their lives. Pick up the latest travel magazine or review the travel section of your favorite newspaper. When your friend tells you about a great vacation spot, put it on a note on your phone. Sign up for a weekly or daily travel email (we get Travel + Leisure emails daily). When you are ready to plan a getaway, you'll have some ideas.
Here are a few go-to sources we use to feed our wanderlust:
Culture Trip. This is the source we couldn't live without. We use it to find the best neighborhoods, street foods, markets, and more. We find that their content is vetted and majorly on-point. And, there's an app for that!
Conde Nast Traveler. a regular near the top of any Google search, we value their opinion. Conde Nast does a great job highlighting new hotspots that might not be on everyone's radar.
The Telegraph UK. Also a regular on Google search, we like their writing style and have found they are pretty on-point with the suggestions.
Friends, Family, and Bloggers. Take notes of all the cool locations that your friends and family tell you about. Learn even more by finding blogs about these places. We read approx. 3 blogs on a destination and cross-reference them against each other. dd your favorite bloggers to Bloglovin to keep it all straight.
*** Note: we don't use Trip Advisor and Yelp. Why? Because we haven't had good luck. We don't know their reviewers...and when we've followed TA or Yelp advice...we end up with a bunch of other tourists, which we don't like. However, it can be helpful to cross-reference your tips...and that's how we use them.
Step 2: GET ORGANIZED
Getting organized early is key to a stress-free travel experience.
- Use Notes in your phone: as you discover new places to go, restaurants to visit, experiences you want to have and pictures to take, start to build out an itinerary using the Notes app on your phone. This works well because you can share the notes with other members in your group, and everyone can make changes as they wish.
- Shared Google account: create a unique Google account for your travels. Use this email for travel confirmations from hotels, AIRBNB, airlines, rental cars, etc. This allows everyone in your party access to important travel information.
- Google Maps: using the shared Google account above, add the cities, hotels, restaurants, and sight-seeing destinations from your itinerary into Google Maps. Since it's a shared account, anyone in your party can see exactly what's planned for a given location. Use the "label" function in Maps to add notes as to why a certain location is important. It takes a bit of time to add the locations but it helps you navigate your destination once you are in travel mode.
Booking YOUR TRIP:
There are new booking engines popping up seemingly every day. We recommend you pick 1 or 2 and stick with them.
Picking your favorites and sticking with them makes the booking process more familiar over time and could offer you the benefit of status with certain engines.
Here are our favorites:
Momondo. This is our first choice. We like that it allows you to leave your destination wide-open. You may end up choosing a surprise destination based on price. It's good to leave your options open, right? One thing we've learned is that the app seems to give favorable pricing (why, who knows?) so be sure to download the app.
Skyscanner. This is our second go-to. It reliably works around the world, seems to give full inventory and good prices.
Kayak. Travelocity. Expedia. Same as Skyscanner. They all work and give full inventory at good prices. Play around with them, and pick your favorite (we tend to use Travelocity for no particular reason other than we have all our stuff updated and saved in our profile).
Hipmunk. New to the game and looking to change the game. The smart folks at Hipmunk are like mini-travel agents. You can email them where you want to go and they'll email you back with options. We think their best feature is that display flight options based on a new category: Agony, which is some smart combo of duration and cost. Clever. We've not used them a lot, but think they are onto something.
AirAsia Asean Pass. For traveling around Asia, look into this pass. We didn't and wish we had.
** Note: check out the Around the World ticket option with your preferred airline alliance. SkyTeam and StarAlliance both offer this option, and depending on how far and long you are traveling, this may be a good option.
AIRBNB. The hospitality game has changed. AIRBNB gives travelers the option of staying somewhere with a kitchen, washer & dryer, lounge, patio, etc. If you need more space than a traditional hotel room, AIRBNB is the answer. Hosts will very often offer their local recommendations, giving you the inside scoop on your destination. Both the hosts and guests get rated by each other. We like the accountability on both sides.
Booking.com. We feel like the reviews are very accurate which has led to great success on our travels. Frequent bookings can lead to you reaching GENIUS status which entitles you to favorable rates, and possibly some preferential treatment by the staff at the property. Finally, we've been told from multiple properties that booking.com is one of their preferred booking engines, and we like that.
i-escape. This one is special. The fine people of i-escape personally visit properties and hand-pick their favorites for their site. We like that they openly highlight the high's and low's of each property. Their discernment makes decision making a breeze. We found one of our favorite properties on i-escape-- Finca Naranja in Spain's Andalusia region.
Rome2Rio. A great tool for looking at all of your transportation option at one glance.
Go Euro. Compare the price and journey time of air, rail and bus travel options in a single search.
Eurail. If you are traveling extensively around Europe, look into a Eurail pass.
Japan Rail Pass. If you are traveling around Japan, the Japan Rail Pass is the only way to go. They've only recently started selling limited numbers at certain rail stations in Japan, so check online in advance to see if you need to buy and have your pass posted to you before your trip.
Local Transport. Check into what apps you may want to download for local transport (i.e. NYC Subway, London Underground, etc.) If you want to experience one aspect of local life, get out of the UBER's and onto a local train or bus.
Rental Cars. Most rental car agencies offer a rewards program so it can pay to pick one and stick with it. We love the Gold Rewards with Hertz. We find Hertz to more expensive most of the time (and sometimes they price themselves out) but we sure do love the automatic and frequent upgrades.