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  • Shinobu Sato
  • "What is your first action when plan a overseas trip?"

Shinobu Sato

Chiba, Japan

What is your first action when plan a overseas trip?

Thanks to OTAs, now we can do almost everything on the internet such as flight and hotel bookings.

What do you do when planning your overseas trip? just go to booking.com or expedia?  visit your local travel agency?


Me? I feel sometimes that jumping around multiple websites is annoying!


Cheers,

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  • Andrew Chou

    top answer by

    On average, I plan around 6 overseas trips a year - often only a few weeks ahead of the trip.

    My focus is typically not to travel as cheaply as possible, but to maximise value for money. So I would first ask the question - what is the greatest variability with respect to my total cost?

    The answer - it's usually your airfare - as it can fluctuate significantly (a few hundred dollars even if you're flying economy) with a slight variation in your destination / date combinations.

    So as a first step, I use either skyscanner.com or kayak.com to find the destination / date combination the makes my trip as cost effective as possible.

    I would then run a couple of searches on those dates / destinations using either expedia or booking.com to make sure I don't end up in a city where there's a huge conference on and hotels are 3 times the usual price.

    Having done the above, I would now be confident that I have the most cost effective destination / date combination (give or take), I would proceed to put together a high level itinerary with these dates (I use pebblar.com, a simple itinerary creation tool).

    At this point, I would also do a quick check on the visa and vaccination requirements to make sure I have enough time.

    I would then lock in my flights and accomodations.

    As a next step, I would use a combination of tripadvisor / guide books / travel blogs to start "filling in the blanks" and work out what to I want to do there and whether there are any bookings (e.g. popular restaurants, opera tickets, special visits / viewings etc) that I need to take care of ahead of time.

    Then I get ready for my next adventure!

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    • Shinobu S.

      Shinobu S.

      Thanks for answering, Andrew! Now I'm curious about no one can explain rapid growth of OTA business why their business is STILL growing??? · (0 likelikes)

    • Andrew C.

      Andrew C.

      Well I think OTAs do come into play when you get into more niche markets (e.g. high end luxury, safaris etc) where there is some complexity involved. Also they can sometimes bundle packages at a competitive pricing due to commissions and incentives. · (1 likelikes)

    • Adina M.

      Adina M.

      Hi Andrew, Great input related to the flow of your trip planning. Really helpful. I have a question for you: do you find all this research (tripadvisor+ bloggers etc.) overwhelming or do you enjoy it? I am asking you this because I am working on an international platform with local escapes ( an activity+ stay). Would you use this kind of platform to save time and to get access to those hidden gems or do you simply want to do the research all by yourself? Thanks, Adina · (1 likelikes)

    • Andrew C.

      Andrew C.

      Hi Adina, great question! Personally, despite it being overwhelming and a lot of effort, I do find the process of researching and planning necessary. The fact is, I may only ever go to that destination once and therefore I want to make sure I experience the best each destination has to offer. So researching and triangulating using multiple sources for me is a must. However, there is a wide spectrum of travellers - ranging from those like me to those that would simply go to the travel agent and ask them to plan out the whole thing and make all the bookings. I would say the potential customer for your platform would be closer to those in the latter category. · (2 likelikes)

    • Adina M.

      Adina M.

      Thanks for sharing your point of view. Really helpful. Indeed, it really depends. But why not save time and effort when you can find in one single place an escape crafted by a local(activities and accommodation). Please let me know your thoughts on our platform (spoty.com) and any constructive criticism is encouraged. I would appreciate it since it would come from an experienced traveller. :D Or you can reach me on twitter @adina13m · (2 likelikes)

    • Andrew C.

      Andrew C.

      Sure, I'll check it out and hit you up on twitter! · (1 likelikes)

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  • Phil L

    answered by

    For air I only use the airline's web site, that is just common sense. For hotels, I check the prices on numerous booking sites and then after I find a few that interest me, I go to the hotel's web site and usually find that the price is the same or in many cases lower, or they offer discounts to seniors, or automobile members, or booking in advance. I generally end up booking directly with the hotel. If the hotel does not have a web site of its own then I use booking.com, priceline.com (mostly for bidding), agoda.com or hotels.com. I don't use expedia or orbitz which I believe now is part of expedia

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  • Jeff Putterman

    answered by

    Jumping around saves you tons of money, and helps you see what to do when you get to wherever you are going.


    Enjoy your trip.

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  • Crystal Leturno

    answered by

    Hello,

    There is a lot of planning that goes into travel, especially when looking around for good prices. It's hard to get around unless you pay a travel agent to do it all for you. But I'll guess that you want to plan it yourself. And unless you have a select couple of websites you have learned to rely on, jumping around the internet to research is almost unavoidable.

    First I'll assume that you have some idea of where you would like to go.

    The next thing I usually do is figure out how much it cost to get there and then how much I could expect to spend from day to day. For flights I usually look on skyscanner.net, and then book on the airline's website. I like skyscanner because they show nearly all airlines, even ones that they don't get commission from.

    For accommodation, I almost exclusively use airbnb.com these days. The prices are great, and I love staying in a "home." It's not possible everywhere in the world, but it is pretty prevalent.

    The Lonely Planet website has a lot of good budgeting guides on it to help me guess how much food, attractions, and other costs might be. TripAdvisor is where I go for reviews on attractions. They also have a pretty good searchable forum and user created collections. Wikitravel.org is where I go to get practical information as well as some historical background. Frommer's usually has good sample itineraries to help me start visualizing what a trip could look like.

    Just for example if I were thinking about going to Peru, I would look at these websites to help me plan:

    http://wikitravel.org/en/Peru

    https://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/essential-information

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294311-Peru-Vacations.html

    http://www.frommers.com/destinations/peru/620947

    Just search for your destination instead of Peru.

    Alternatively you could just pick a country that sounds nice, buy a ticket, and play it by ear when you arrive!

    Or, if you don't want to browse around websites to plan, you could buy a travel guide in book form. My favorite ones are Lonely Planet's. You can buy them from their website and when you buy a physical book you can also download it for free.

    I hope this helps, happy travels!

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    • Adina M.

      Adina M.

      Hi Crystal, Your answer came as a real help for me so thank you. You mentioned about ''airbnb''and the fact that there is no place where you can book a home. My question for you is: would you book an escape made by locals which has these two elements: an activity+ stay? The focus is on the experience itself more than just a simple accommodation. Does it sound appealing to you? Or do you prefer to make the reasearch by yourself and book them separately? I would appreciate your answer as I am working on a product of this kind. (spoty.com). Many thanks, Adina · (0 likelikes)

    • Crystal L.

      Crystal L.

      Hi Adina, I think that is a really interesting idea. I usually do my own research and plan my own activities, but I would be open to the activity+stay model. It just depends on what the activity was. It might be neat to stay somewhere that includes a tour or class such as a guided bike ride or a cooking class on the local cuisine. Overall I couldn't say for sure if I would use it, but I would be open to the idea. · (0 likelikes)

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  • mark Filip

    answered by

    For us, part of the trip is planning every detail. We loath travel agencies and tour groups. They usually have a financial motive on where they send you in many cases.

    We always base our trip dates around the best airfare (either through miles or purchase). Once we find the sweet spot dates, we book at the best rate or miles usage we get. Usually 6+ months (at least) out.
    From there we find the best hotels in the areas and rates we can find.

    We have many bookmarked websites for travel that aid us for each trip.

    If money isn't a concern then of course disregard everything above this line. If you want to get the most out of your trip then researching all of your possibilities ahead of time saves you money and time once you get to your destination.

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  • Janelle Kennedy

    answered by

    OTAs are useful for comparing prices and reading reviews, but I don't recommend booking ANYTHING through them. If something goes wrong you have little or no recourse, and trying to deal with them directly is an exercise in frustration. When looking to book a hotel or flight, OTAs are useful to compare options and prices, but once you make your decision you can nearly always find the same price on the individual hotel or airline's website, and booking directly with the hotel and airline gives you more recourse and less aggravation if something goes bad.

    When I plan a trip of any kind, I always book hotel reservations in advance. You almost always get better rates booking weeks in advance, and you have the convenience of being guaranteed a place to sleep. Also, why waste your time trying to find a hotel at the last minute when you could spend the same time sightseeing, eating at a nice restaurant or relaxing on the beach or at the pool?

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  • Sean Kelly

    answered by

    When you say "the first thing", I take it to mean you're already decided where, and for long you're be traveling. That's the first thing I do.

    At this point I research and book my flights.

    Next, if I'm renting a car for any portion of my trip, I do that on line.

    At this point I'm ready to research as to whether I would advantageous to buy a rail pass or buy individual tickets. If a rail pass is advantageous I order one.

    I now evaluate what if any insurance I should purchase, and do so.

    And that's about it. I no longer book my lodging until I'm at my destination. I used to book my first night out, but after a delayed and diverted flight which resulted in being charged for a room I never saw, no more.

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  • Jenny Eitelberg

    answered by

    After you pick your country or region, you should check which immunizations you wil need an how long it will take to get Visa's. Good luck!

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    • Justine L.

      Justine L.

      adfa · (0 likelikes)

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  • Hazel B

    answered by

    I look up free things to do in the city l travel to. I print certain maps. Taxi and bus route info.

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  • Cynthia Feig

    answered by

    I always start with airline reservations. I try to plan in advance (331 days in some cases) so I can use miles. I like to fly into one city and out of another. Once I book the flight, I will then fill in the blanks of places I'd like to visit and how I'll get from point A to point B in set timeframe. I plan on 4+ days in each city to get a feel for it.

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  • Teddy Alice

    answered by

    OTAs is helpful .And with me, when travel . The first , I need decided what to do , where to go ... then I research some trust agencies . Next I sign in website and check again . Choose a tour and book.

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  • Reno Anderson

    answered by

    Even with all my electronic devices, I still sit down with a legal pad and pen, and make lists. Master list on first page and then detailed lists on subsequent pages of everything I need to do. There is something satisfying in checking things off these lists.

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  • Steve Shallenberger

    answered by

    I decide where I want to go and how long I intend to stay there. Then I start checking multiple airlines and airports. I usually go to Europe. So maybe Berlin is $400 more than Copenhagen. I travel with my Girlfriend and My Son. So it is better for me to fly to Copenhagen for example. I just add that to my trip. I usually have a start and stop point. One time I landed in Berlin. Took train to Wronclaw (car rentals were a few hundred dollars cheaper here than Berlin) then I drove round about to Talinn where I dropped the car off and took a ferry to Sweden. Then round about to Copenhagen. Where I went home. Cars, at least in Europe are wonderful in the country areas, you can see things, you normally wouldn't. But in most cities, they are a burden. I generally get Eurrail passes. But not for Poland or Ukraine. The tickets are cheap enough without being on the pass. I guess it is important for me to have a general idea of the region I want to visit. Then be open to possible arrival and departure spots or car pick up and drop off sites. Because they can very pretty greatly. Then I buy the books and do Internet research on possible places in the region I chose to visit. I like Weird Europe, but it hasn't been updated in years.

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  • Peter Dorfman

    answered by

    The FIRST thing I do is to research the place; bookings have to wait until I've decided what to do and where. One process I've found useful is to look for podcasts by the smarter travel writers who have a gift for bringing out the culture and character of a place. That's a very personal decision, but I like Rick Steves' Europe, especially for background on Italy. I imagine there are useful podcasts in Japanese. The medium is useful if your life is busy, as mine is.

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  • Andrew Marandu

    answered by

    Another advise to plan overseas trip include below procedures.

    Know your interest and research which destination country are you going.

    Then search from Google using destination activity, example if you want climbing, then find best destination like Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. or if you like search African safaris and a country.

    Tanzania

    You will find several local companies which provide that services. You can send inquiries to about 5 to 10 DMC travel companies and then you will come to narrow down to 1 using price costs budget and past client testimony contacts you will do. Kilimanjaro

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  • Roger Barb

    answered by

    I like music & museums , so I look for areas that have these things. Weird/funny & off beat is fun so I do check these too. Most trips I also try something new ( ie White water rafting , zorbing , speedboats ). Hiking / walking nature options also a plus. I am a budget traveler so I stay with friends, in hostels or low cost hotels.

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  • Hazel B

    answered by

    I check fbi cia travel alerts. I am signed up for agency alerts. I check what attacks occur in each place l travel. Especially pedestrian laws andcasualties

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  • claus andersen

    answered by

    I book nothing but the plane ticket and often only a one way ticket. A planned adventure is not an adventure. Going to Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro Maastricht Copenhagen Tirana Buenos Aires and a few other places this year, but I would never dream of booking things like accommodation and such in advance.

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  • Monika Ligocka

    answered by

    I check free things to do - as Hazel said :), then if I go to the city - city card, look for the things I want to see and compare if the city card is any use - for example I did this for Barcelona trip and have to say - the city card for this city is useless! I wrote about my planing for trips here - http://www.wanderingveronique.com/?p=2062

    We are going to Budapest for four days next Saturday and I am in the middle of preparing for the trip - for a short visit to the town I prefer Marco Polo travel guides - they are really good with advice and light, they have a map of the town too!

    I am checking the transport from the airport too! That is very important, and of course the hotel - it is vital where is it! Sometimes is better to pay more and spend less time and money on transport around, especially in the town.

    For longer trips - I always look at the car rental, as I like being independent. I wrote about car renting here: http://www.wanderingveronique.com/?cat=131 If you look around - you will always find a good deal!

    Yes, jumping around websites is annoying, but I think this is something you have to do! I love all the forums regarding eating out - people are leaving really good tips there! We have visited really cool place in Copenhagen - Mother (http://www.guide-to-copenhagen.com/restaurant/mother-a-quite-unusual-italian-restaurant) - I would never get there without this type of forums! And the place was absolutely amazing!

    Yes, browsing endlessly through websites is annoying, but at the same time vital :) Have a save trip!!!

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  • Shinobu Sato

    answered by

    Looks like we directory book airs, hotels and etc, NOT through OTAs. Generally speaking, we don't need travel agencies especially for a budget travel. :)

    Interesting this is that the business is OTAs are still growing.

    Any comments on why?


    Cheers,

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