As the holiday season nears its peak, we take a look at some of the most important travel-planning tips. Also, check some of our tricks to help you get the best deal for airline and accommodation booking with minimal effort.
Step 1: Fix the Location
This should be one of the easiest things to do. I am sure as you read this, you already have quite a few options in your mind on where your next trip will be.
Step 2: Time It
Plan the timing of your visit with care. For example, if you plan a trip to Goa ( a tropical get-away in India), you will be faced with exorbitant rates around Christmas time up till new year. However, if you check the prices during the monsoons, you will find that you can arrange steals from some of the best hotels there.
Check for free days for your trip too. For example, many cities have free museum visits on certain days of the year.
Step 3: Look for Flight Fares
Flight booking tip: There is no point making your booking extremely early on. Ideally, you will plan your trip, but only book your flight around 3 to 6 weeks in advance for local trips, and about 3 to 4 months in advance for international tips. At this stage use Bing.com/travel, it is one of the best fare predictors that I have come across.
Currency conversion tip: It is good to remember the importance of currency conversion for international trips. For example, as the US Dollar is far stronger than the Indian Rupee it makes sense to look for tickets on kayak.co.in rather than kayak.com. However, if you plan a trip to the UK, because of the Pound’s higher value, stick to looking at the US site.
Alternate travel means tip: When you are travelling locally to multiple destinations, look for alternative transport means, if you have the time. For example, in some countries exchanging your two-hour flight for an overnight trip by bus or train will save you a lot more money.
Step 4: Look for Accommodation
If you are not averse to couch surfing or doing the odd home-sitting job, check some sites like House Carers, CouchSurfing, Mind My House and Home Exchange. There are plenty of interesting options other than the hotel+flight deals you may get on sites like Kayak (that searches through Orbitz, Priceline, and many more), Makemytrip, Chepoair, Google and Travelocity to name a few. Accommodation at hostels and Bed-and-Breakfasts in many locations is far less expensive than hotels.
If you plan to travel during the non-peak season though, checking hotel prices is a good option.
Step 5: Book your Fares
I recommend doing the actual booking of the flight on the airline site itself. You may find that the prices are slightly lower, plus in case of any last-minute changes it is easier to deal with an airline if you say that you booked from their website itself. Remember to use the currency conversion tip here as well.
Based on reports, it is best to make your booking on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, as that is when tickets are supposedly priced at their lowest for the week. Remember the flight booking tip here as well.
According to the WSJ,
Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.com, studied three years worth of airline prices and concluded that 3 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday was the best time to buy.
If you are a student, you may have special concessions. This varies from airline-to-airline. Also, there is a lot said about airline miles. Though I am a novice, I can still say that it works. You have to remember that there are multiple ways of collecting miles in addition to actually travelling.
If you are staying at a hotel, don’t forget to check if you can avail a free upgrade. At worst they will say no, so there is no loss. This applies to anything, You Don’t Know Until You Ask.