Though you may love your city to bits, there is always a time that you feel like getting away and exploring pastures new. Whether you are going away for just a couple of days or a few weeks, it is still worth planning out your trip so you can fully make the most of it. Though some people prefer the ‘arrive at a destination and see what happens’ approach to travel, even doing a little bit of preparation can make all the difference.
So, in this post, we will take a look at some of the top ways that you can prepare for a trip of any length and why you should think about including them in your next adventure. Most of these shouldn’t take you a great deal of time, but the impact they will make to the cost and overall quality of your trip should be significant.
Compare Prices on Transport and Accommodation
It is amazing to think that people who are taking exactly the same flight or staying in exactly the same hotel room are paying wildly different prices. But the truth is that this will always be the case. To make sure you are not one of the people at the top end of the scale, you need to be comparing prices online to make sure you are getting the best deal. Luckily, this has been made much easier by the internet. Websites like Skyscanner allow you to compare a range of flights from a number of airlines, while sites like DontPayFull.com offer a wide range of discounts on numerous aspects of travel. So when you see a hotel that you like, make sure to do a quick search to see if you can get a better deal. It is more than likely to be worthwhile.
Choose a Good Time of Year
The height of summer is certainly a time to avoid wherever you are traveling. Inevitably, there will be many more people, the weather climbs to unpleasant temperatures in many regions and the prices start to skyrocket. While you will definitely get the best prices during the winter, the ‘shoulder season’ is when you strike a nice balance between weather and affordability. For example, if you are planning a trip around Europe, around June or September are ideal. Though there are still likely to be crowds, things won’t be nearly as bad in the peak months of July and August. Again, this is where a little bit of research really pays off in the long-run.
Book Activities in Advance
A quick search of your destination will give you a good general overview of the tourist attractions you are interested in visiting and any tours you may like to take while you are out there. If you book these in advance, not only are you likely to save yourself some cash, but you can often skip the lines so you don’t waste valuable time on your trip standing in a queue. A good example of this is at the Vatican Museum in Rome where you can end up waiting for hours to see the Sistine Chapel unless you book online. The same goes for any traveling while you are there. The best available rates tend to be found online, plus you won’t have to go through the general confusion of buying a ticket at a bus or train station.
Download Useful Apps
The experience of traveling has been totally revolutionized since the dawn of smartphones. No longer do you have to take numerous wrong turns while poring over a battered paper map. Instead, you can download an app like Maps.ME which allows you to navigate around with offline maps. No longer do you have to struggle flicking through phrasebooks to make yourself understood as apps like Google Translate have you covered. You can also download city guides directly to your phone so you are carrying around everything you need in your pocket. Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are a great way to stay in contact with people back home without paying fees while you are connected to WiFi. With such a powerful tool as a smartphone, it makes sense that you should be using in the best way you can.
Avoid Tourist Traps
If you are planning to visit a destination that is particularly popular, there are certain parts of town that you will want to avoid as much as possible. The warning signs should be fairly obvious as there will be people standing outside restaurants brandishing menus that are only written in English. Not only will you not be getting a local experience, but you will also end up paying significantly more. Surely no one wants that?! One way of avoiding these tourist traps is by checking out travel blogs and reading reviews of places before you actually get there. This way, you are likely to have a much more authentic traveling experience.
Make a Packing Checklist
Though you may think it is overly organized to make a packing checklist, this is the best way that you can make sure that you have everything you need. Start with the items that are most essential to you (passport, credit cards, phone charger) and work your way back from there. Use the weather forecast as a guideline so you know what type of clothing you need to bring. If you need extra space, try rolling everything up rather than packing it in flat. Remember to check out luggage allowances before you fly anywhere so you don’t get caught out and end up having to pay any additional fees.
Avoid Extra Bank Charges Where Possible
If you can get credit cards or bank cards that don’t charge you additional fees to take your money out while you are abroad, you are much more likely to get a better rate of exchange. If not, it is worth shopping around to see where will give you a good deal. You should avoid exchanging money at the airport as this is where you will get the worst exchange rate. It is also worth checking with your bank to see what kind of fees they charge as you don’t want to get home to find any nasty surprises on your statement.
Buy Travel Insurance
So many people travel abroad assuming that bad situations won’t happen to them. But the truth is that you can never be 100 percent confident of this, so getting travel insurance should be a no-brainer. This doesn’t have to be a huge investment, and it goes a long way beyond just medical cover. If your flight is canceled, your camera breaks or your wallet is stolen, travel insurance can come to your rescue. Again, it is worth comparing policies to make sure that everything that you need is covered. For a relatively small investment, it could end up being a very big help.
Build in Some Flexibility
Though we have talked about how important it is to plan, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy some spontaneity while traveling. After all, you are in an entirely new destination and you want to enjoy everything it has to offer. Even if you do have a rough itinerary, it is worth being flexible with any activities that aren’t already pre-booked. After all, when you are traveling, you often meet people who provide you with specific recommendations of places to go and things to see. It would be a shame to miss out on this, so be prepared to go with the flow from time to time!
Sort Out Your Technology
Consider what sort of technology you will be taking and make sure that you have everything you need. If you are bringing a camera, don’t forget to pack any chargers and other additional items that you may need. If you are planning to take pictures using your smartphone, it is a good idea to set it up to back everything up automatically on some sort of cloud account. This way, you are not in danger of losing your pictures if you happen to lose your phone. If you are traveling long-haul, services like Netflix now allow you to download shows and movies so you can stay entertained while covering long distances.
Create a Backup Plan
If you do happen to lose any important items while traveling, it is important that you have a backup plan in place. We have already talked about getting travel insurance, but there are a couple of other things you can do to protect yourself. Make copies of important documents like passports and visas in case you encounter any problems (I like to email them to myself so I can access from anywhere). It is also a good idea to keep an extra bank card and some cash separate from your main wallet in case you happen to lose this.
These tips should help you out when you are planning a trip of any length. Use them as a guideline, and they should help to make your trip more affordable, as well as helping you to make the most of your time.
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