- May 22nd 2012
Some people reading this post may barely remember what it was like to plan a trip in the good old, bad old days. They were the good old days because check-in times were shorter and security restrictions less onerous, but for some they were the bad old days because you had to call in the professionals if you wanted to book a trip and hope that they were steering you in the right direction. In small towns, such as the one where I grew up, things were relatively simple. There were only a few flights to choose from for each destination and picking the one that suited your timing was relatively straightforward.
But in bigger cities, planning a trip usually meant time thumbing travel agents’ brochures and even more time sitting at a desk in their office trying to create the perfect itinerary. Then you had the choice of booking your hotel in advance via the agent, phoning the hotel yourself or turning up at your destination and hoping you would find something suitable (this worked well for vacations, which all had an air of adventure).
DIY Trip Planning
Even though some of us complain about the hassle of travel planning these days (though there are plenty who love the process), that’s probably because we are doing it ourselves and have access to all the options travel agents used to handle for us. Instead of having them login to SABRE or another travel itinerary planner, we can comparison shop on flight aggregation sites, then go to individual airlines’ sites to book our trip and arrange our seating. We can book insurance separately via other sites and then try to get the best deals on hotel accommodation, airport parking and rental cars via different websites. It can take hours.
Nostalgia about Travel
The more I think about it, the more I think there was something to be said for handing over the fine details to a professional while you got on with the rest of your life. It was blissfully simple and a good travel agent was a great find. That said, now when I travel I feel more in control of deciding how the trip will play out. There’s also so much info on travel forums to help with itinerary planning when you reach your destination that it’s a bit like crowdsourcing your travel plans – and that has quite a ring to it, don’t you think?
What travel experience from the past are you most nostalgic for? Which one don’t you miss at all?
- May 15th 2012
Are you considering whether to buy travel insurance for your next trip? Are you thinking of protecting your rental car with an additional policy? Buying travel insurance is your best protection against unexpected events. Here are six reasons why it’s a good idea.
1. Preparing for emergencies is a good idea – and that’s what insurance is all about. Unless you have a crystal ball, and are absolutely sure nothing will go wrong on your trip, then it’s probably a good idea. Suppose something happens in your family and you have to change your plans? Trip insurance can insure you against the financial penalty you would normally incur for altering travel arrangements at the last minute.
2. Health issues can strike at any time. Even if you’re perfectly healthy when you start the trip, you or your loved ones could end up having to be rushed to hospital or flown home. This can be expensive and is unlikely to be covered by your domestic policy. A travel insurance policy with medical cover is a good fail safe.
3. Although you don’t own your rental car, you’re responsible if something goes wrong with it. Dents, scratches and other damage – the kind people do in car parks and then quietly drive away from – will all cost you. Taking insurance about this incidental damage will help your wallet in the long run.
4. While you may have an existing policy, can you be sure it will cover you against every eventuality? What about trip interruptions or cancellations and theft of or damage to your belongings? Read the fine print carefully to see if you need additional cover.
5. One thing you can’t predict is the weather, though goodness knows the weather forecasters make a valiant effort. However, even they get it wrong much of the time. Bad weather can cause delays and cancellations and can even completely ruin your holiday. If you’re taking a winter break and there’s no snow or a summer break where there are rain and storms, it might be better to defer your holiday. Having the right insurance policy means you won’t lose your money.
6. In the last few years, we’ve got used to hearing about companies going bankrupt or folding overnight. If this happens to your travel company, where does that leave you? If you don’t want to be up the creek, then a travel insurance policy gives you some financial protection.
As you can see, buying travel insurance can be a no-brainer under these circumstances. So think about this carefully when you book your next trip.
Planning a trip during the summer? Check out Park Ride Fly USA’s latest discount airport parking coupon for big savings on off airport parking.
Image: brewbooks/ Flickr
- April 30th 2012
With May here and June around the corner, a lot of people will be getting married. Today’s guest post offers tips on planning the honeymoon.
Planning a honeymoon? You want it to be memorable, even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash. The good news is that your honeymoon can always be enjoyable – here are some tips for couples honeymooning on a budget.
Establish a budget – what can you afford? Is it $200? Is it a $1000? Once you know that, set the goals for the honeymoon trip. Do you plan to stay in the room, go to a beach, explore a national park, or take a cruise?
2. Use Honeymoon Registries
Travel registries work just like gift registries for your wedding. This is a good idea if you already have household items, but little cash for a trip. You should pick a basic trip that is affordable, then use any gifts to add distinctive features, such as an extra day, a visit to an expensive attraction, or a celebratory dinner at a five-star restaurant.
3. Travel Agents
Check out a few actual travel agents and try to find some that have been in the business awhile. Even though you can find travel reservations online, these people know the complete industry and can help you customize a trip to match your budget. Plus, this takes one thing off of your plate before the wedding. Look for agents that specialize in the trip desired; it is perfectly acceptable to ask for references from other travelers, especially if traveling overseas.
4. All in One Trips
Some people find these trips limiting, but for those on a budget, they can be an economical way of traveling to many places. You have the added benefit of knowing that the trip is paid for, and that there will not be any extra fees such as parking or room taxes. If you find you need a change from the activities provided by your resort, you can still book an activity off the resort area. Some resorts will even arrange discounts on trips to local activities.
5. Apply Real Estate Rules
In buying real estate, the principal rule is to spend your budget on the most expensive street possible. It is always better for future value to buy a smaller house on a more expensive street, then to buy the largest house on a less expensive street. This works in the travel industry, too. With some research, you may find that you gain more from staying in the cheapest room at the most expensive hotel you can afford to get the benefit of hotel amenities and a nice location.
6. Stay Close But Not Too Close
Another way to save is to book at hotels and airports away from the main cities. While staying in San Francisco is expensive, there are plenty of cities in the Bay Area that are much cheaper, even when adding the cost of renting a car. Check out all of the local airports. Many urban areas have public transportation that can be used to move around. Unless time is of the essence, this is an area worth looking at.
Meals are a huge expense when traveling. Cut the cost by booking hotels that offer a free breakfast. Also consider having one expensive meal a day and two budget meals. And if you are planning to be out at an attraction, remember that the restaurants closest to the attraction are often the most expensive. Walk a little further away and you may get a better meal for the same budget.
These tips will help you save on your honeymoon – what would you add?
Sarah Taylor is a wedding planner and in her spare time blogs for honeymoondestinations.org, a site that can help you plan a honeymoon in Belize.
Image: Jacobus van Eeden/Flickr
- February 15th 2011
Old movies, novels and biographies often showcase the adventure of travel – the sense of mystery and exploring the unknown that used to be a part of every trip. Way back when, boarding a plane or a ship was something extraordinary, something that only a small percentage of the population did. These days the mechanics of travel can be more mundane, but that’s no reason that it has to be boring. Try these tips to inject some zest into your next trip.
A Chance Destination
Instead of planning your trip a year or two ahead (which admittedly, you might need to do sometimes), try picking a random destination with a pin in a map or a flip of a coin. If that’s a bit too random, then go to a last minute travel site and see where you can go from your local airport. The only rule is, it has to be somewhere that you haven’t visited before.
- December 22nd 2009
Today, I’m reviewing trip planning site, Duffel, testing it with a planned trip to Las Vegas next year. Here’s what its creators say:
Duffel is not only a place where you can collaboratively store, organize and archive all these travel ideas and trips, but you can also use them to compile your own itineraries that go hand-in-hand with your favorite travel guidebook.