Planning an travel adventure can be a difficult task. It’s all about handling the logistics, timing and most importantly – cost. Travel can add up extremely quickly if you aren’t careful. It’s very easy to get carried away by flashy hotels and taking up the first deal you see, ultimately leaving you out of pocket to spend and enjoy on your trip.
My friend and I planned out our own 5-week long itinerary totally independently, worked out flights, hotels, transfers, plans and bookings, all by ourselves. It was hard work, but after a bit of practise, it becomes second nature. It’s so easy for a travel agents to rip you off, so it’s essential you learn the skills for yourself. Here are the tools we found useful along the way, and the sites we used to get the best deal.
Google Flights was the best tool I found during my planning process. It is awesome for planning a multi-city adventure, as it displays a map and the flight prices above each city, so you can just click on the destination you want to visit, and it’ll give you instant comparable prices. It’s also a good site to use if you aren’t sure where you want to visit, because all of the options are right in front of your eyes, so you can really see where in the world your budget stretches to. We never thought we would be able to go to as many cities as we did over 5 weeks (13), but Google Flights made it easy for us to rearrange our itinerary to find the best combination, and select the next cheapest destination. Most of our flights were around the £30 mark, and we managed to get our most expensive flight from Reykjavik to Berlin down from £100 to £68, by simply moving around our dates in each country. It’s so easy!
In terms of price, I found that going onto airlines individual websites took longer, plus more fees seemed to be added on top of the flight price. Google Flights almost always was the cheapest, after I investigated some of the other sites such as Ryanair and easyJet.
Google Flights works like a comparison site, and shows you flights from loads of different companies for the best price, including the fees and added extras. There are other sites such as Kayak or Expedia, who provide similar services, but from research and consistent use, Google Flights has always given me the best prices like I mentioned.
Google Flights is definitely worth a go if you want to do a bit of exploring and try somewhere new, because you can find some really good deals to totally random places on there!
I always book my accommodation through booking.com. I like it because all of the fees are stated clearly on the page, and I’ve found some really quirky places to stay for some awesome prices! My best find was a night in citizenM CDG hotel, which can cost upwards of £200 over busy periods, and I got it for £80!
The filters on the site are really useful to help narrow down your search. You can choose star ratings, location, type of room, what facilities you need – the list goes on. I tend to always set mine to lowest price first, because even on the cheap you can find some real gems – don’t just go for the ones they recommend, because more than often you can find something just as good for half the price.
As we were travelling around Europe for so long, we did have to stay in some hostels. However, if you do your research, you can find some “hostels” which are basically just hotels. We stayed in one called “Easy Lisbon Hostel” which had hostel prices, £20 a night, but we had our own room! The only compromise is a shared bathroom, and all the “hostels” we stayed in with a shared bathroom over the course of our trip were fantastic. It’s something to definitely think about if you want your money to stretch a little further, don’t just rule it out. Plus, it’s easier than we thought to find hostel hotels with your own room, none of this 12 person dormitory nonsense.
As Booking.com is quite a popular site, there are always a tonne of reviews for each hotel. This is useful to have a quick flick through to see if the accommodation is suitable for your needs. Furthermore, if you book 10 hotels with Booking.com, you qualify to become a Genius Member, and get 10% selected future bookings!
Check out Booking.com for quirky rooms at competitive prices.
Pinterest is a fantastic tool for sorting out your itinerary. It’s a good way to find out what real people have been seeing and doing in various cities, and can often help you find some awesome hidden gems.
For every city in my Europe trip, I did most of my research on Pinterest, reading loads of the links from travellers, and choosing the best bits. From using Pinterest, I was able to find a huge amount of extra, quirky things to do on top of the expected tourist attractions. You can also store all of your finds in separate “boards” for easy access and organisation.
I would definitely recommend using Pinterest to aid your travel planning because there is so much content to look through and discover something really unique to visit in your chosen city. My best finds were the Electric Ladyland Museum in Amsterdam (blog post coming soon), and the L.O.V.E statue in Milan, as I would never have discovered these if I had just used a conventional travel guide or book.
Thanks for reading about my Travel Planning tips and tricks!
Do you have any websites you use for travel planning? Where are you going to visit next?
I’d love to have a chat in the comments!