HOW TO PLAN A TRIP
Hello everyone! Today I am going to talk about a topic that has been recurring in my agenda for a long time, and this is the planning of a trip. If you are like me, a person who prefers to plan everything according to your taste instead of buying a holiday package, then this post can be very useful, especially if it is the first time you are traveling and you do not know where to start.
In order to explain the step by step, I will take as example the destination of the trip that I have planned to do with my boyfriend: Greece.
If your dream destination is the same, then great! If not you can apply the same information and tips to travel to the place you want to indistinctly. I’m going to show you my best tips on booking flights, accomodations, budgeting, and other important things to do before you go on your trip. These tips are based on my personal experience.
1. BOOKING FLIGHTS
My favorite website to check for flight prices is Momondo. The reason why I love Momondo is because they can find you the cheapest fares for almost any given flight. I personally like non-stop flights only. I use Momondo in tandem with Google Flights as the best strategy to find the absolute lowest prices.
So first of all, you should get to the Google Flights homepage, plug in where you want to fly from and where you want to fly to, along with your preferred dates. In order to find the cheapest dates, click the first date box right below the FLYING FROM airport. When you do that, prices for 2 months will pop up, with the cheapest dates in green.
Once you’ve looked at the calendar of lowest fares, click on the date you want for your departure, after which you’ll click on the date you’d like to return. At this point, Google Flights then gives you a big list of possible flights. The price in Google Flights is often times higher than what you can find in Momondo.
So now that we’ve found in Google Flights the cheapest dates that work for your trip, you need to take those dates and plug them into the Momondo search engine. At this point you will get your final results. The prices for your selected flight will be displayed, from there just click on whichever site you want to book through, or if you want to see even more results, click “Show all booking sites” in the lower righthand corner. Once you click on the OTA you want to book through, you’ll be taken to their checkout page to book your flight. Easy peasy!
Another thing that is really important to note is: whenever you are looking up flight prices use an incognito window. That way your browser doesn’t track what you are researching and those keywords doesn’t get stored on the website´s cookies. If you keep searching the same topic on a regular window, your search terms gets tracked, and they will raise the prices just for you, because they know you want to book that flight so much.
2. BOOKING ACCOMODATION
For me it’s all about location. You need to stay in a place which location is very convenient to everything that you want to see during your trip. So before you decide where to stay, it’s important to have an idea of the spots that you want to visit. I will start off by doing some research on top things to do in the city, make a list and then map it all out on Google Maps so you can see the distance between them. This way you will get to see which area of the city you will more likely be moving around. Another aspect to have in mind is, if you are planning on using public transportation, find a place that is close enough to a metro station, preferably a station that’s on a major line that you know you are going to be using frequently. This might take some research, but it will save you a lot of walking and energy once you are there.
To book my stays I jump straight to either Agoda or Booking. I love using these websites. Once you know where you’d like to stay, be sure to specify needs like free in-room Wi-Fi or late check-ins to ensure you’re looking at the right options.
On our trip we are going to stay two nights in Athens, four nights in Mykonos and five nights in Santorini. Starting off by searching accommodation for our stay in Athens, I’ve found options on either budget or high end places. However, Greece is all about views and sightseeing so, the hotels with the best views I could find are:
For our days in Mykonos, we decided to stay in the Ornos area:
Once in Santorini, we're staying in Fira:
3. ORGANIZING YOUR ITINERARY
At this point it’s crucial you organize your activities into general areas. The reason why I do this is, I like to be efficient when I’m traveling, that way you get to see things that are close to each other instead of bouncing across the city and wasting time and money. I use Google Maps for this purpose because it’s great to pin everything down and see the distance between each attraction. So once you organize every attraction by location, it’s time to decide what goes on what day of your travel. Finally I will also check out the weather for each day.
The top things I’m planning to do on my trip are:
Visit the acropolis;
Visit luxury stores at Nammos Village in Mykonos;
Enjoy the sun in Ornos beach
Explore the paths, alleys, and stairwells of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia;
Take lots of pictures;
Have breakfast, lunch and dinner with a view;
Enjoy more sun in Perissa and Kamari beach;
Watch the sunset in Oia;
Drive a ATV around the Island;
Take a greek cooking class;
So how much money should I budget for my trip? It really depends on the location you’re going since some places have a lower cost of living and some others are more expensive. Start by doing a quick Google search about the average price for a meal in the city that you are going. I’d also look up prices for museum tickets, excursions and transportation. Lastly, you should factor on your budget how much you want to spend on shopping. Make sure to bring cash and not only relay on your credit card since some places don’t accept cards as widely as others. I would recommend getting a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee. For the cash, you should always order foreign currency in advance at your local bank, this way you pay cheaper rates. It’s just better and safer to order foreign currency at home, although this can usually take seven to ten days so keep that in mind. The last tip is to download a currency conversion app to your phone so you know exactly how much you are actually paying for each thing, it´s quickly and helpful.
Repeat after me: Have a photocopy of each of your important documents. Have them on your phone, online, and print out hard copies of: Passports, Visas, Flight tickets, Itineraries, Hotel reservations, Rental car reservations, Tour bookings, Drivers licence, Credit Cards and anything else you booked for your trip. This tip goes hand in hand with purchasing travel insurance: it’s one of the most important vacation planning tips! When you're abroad, your safety must come first.
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