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Shinobu
Chiba

General Travel

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,


23 Answers

top answer by
Andrew from Tokyo

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!


8 thankscomments (6)


answered by
Jeff from Brooklyn, New York

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.


3 thanks


answered by
Crystal from Anchorage

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!


3 thankscomments (2)


answered by
mark from United States

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.


2 thanks


answered by
Janelle from Charleston

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?


2 thanks


answered by
Jenny from Steenwijk

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!


2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Sean from Hudson Valley

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.


2 thanks


answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

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


2 thanks


answered by
Cynthia from Tucson

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.


1 thanks


answered by
Reno from Murray

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.


1 thanks


answered by
Teddy from New City, New York

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.


1 thanks


answered by
Steve

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.


1 thanks


answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rick Steves' Europe (attraction)
  2. Italy (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

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


1 thanks


answered by
Roger from San Marcos (Texas)

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. 


1 thanks


answered by
claus

I book nothing but the plane ticket and often only a one way ticket. A planned adventure is not an adventure. Going to LisbonRio 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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Rio de Janeiro (city)
  3. Maastricht (city)
  4. Copenhagen (city)
  5. Tirana (city)
  6. Buenos Aires (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Shinobu from Chiba

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,




answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rick Steves' Europe (attraction)
  2. Italy (country)


answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rick Steves' Europe (attraction)
  2. Italy (country)


answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rick Steves' Europe (attraction)
  2. Italy (country)


answered by
Shinobu from Chiba

Hi friends,

Thank you very much for informative updates!! :)

Looks like the truth is that we don't book anything through OTAs any more and we visit them just to refer to various reviews, right?

Also the role of travel agencies is changing because their role is(was?) mainly just to arrange and package trip items such as flight(s) and hotel(s).

Hard times for traditional travel agencies!


Cheers, 




answered by
claus

I book nothing but the plane ticket and often only a one way ticket. A planned adventure is not an adventure.




answered by
claus

I book nothing but the plane ticket and often only a one way ticket. A planned adventure is not an adventure.






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