In this day and age where every second person on our insta feeds is lavishly living it up in some exotic part of the world or other, it is safe to say, most of us love to travel. Or at least love the idea of being able to flaunt our travel conquests. I for one, am guilty of enjoying the travel AND the photo-validation. After suffering and regretting some oversights (*Cough cough* more than) a few times, we have learnt to be weary of certain things and be over-prepared. Enter the exercise of travel planning.
The last trip we took to Bali was the first time I meticulously planned the entire trip. We have been travel-package users before. I did get a quote on travel-package this time for comparison. It makes complete sense now why almost everyone I know, stays away from these. Not only was I able to save a sizeable amount of money, I was able to fit every activity and expense to a T.
For me, the first rule of travel planning is to use Google Maps to its full potential (I say as if I didn’t just discover this like just 6 months ago). I am sure many may already know of this, but I just recently learnt that you can use Google Maps to create a personal map, where you plot all the points of interest in the cities you plan to visit. Totally life-changing and so convenient! Helps one plan the number of days and activities too. Basically, feeds a control-freak’s/obsessive planner’s appetite.
I begin with googling popular places to visit. And Pinterest to find hidden gems. Also useful: YouTube-ing all the attractions on your list quickly to decide if they fit your interests or are worth spending time on. This might seem excessive to some but saves a lot of time if one is time-poor and/or knows exactly what they like and dislike.
This is where a huge chunk of our travel budget goes. It helps to have plans made well in advance in order to get the flights for best prices. A few sites such as this, include some handy tips.
I have always found best deals on Skyscanner. Some sites discuss merits of using reward cards to accumulate and use points to get huge discounts on tickets/hotels. While it is an attractive option, do educate yourself thoroughly if the reward-cards are the best fit for your lifestyle and travel choices.
Airbnb, hotels or a healthy mix of both, is fun and economic. Airbnb allows whipping up simple meals (all of them have a kitchen). The hotels are easy to find over Booking.com. They have the best deals, ratings, and customer feedbacks on each hotel listing. I plot the hotels on google map too. I will not lie-this takes quite a few hours of headache and planning, Every. Bit. Worth. It.
Another critical piece of information we might fail to account for: travelling from Point A to Point B. Public transport might be a good option in many countries and hiring a cab/car with a driver might be the better in others. Read up on what has been tried and tested by many travellers before you.
Finding a good sim card for internet data
Most countries have special sim cards for travellers that offer good internet data plans for limited time. Internet will help with GPS, catching public transport, and any unforeseen circumstances which may force you to go off your travel planning a little.
Being a vegetarian with stubborn Indian taste-buds brings another item to prep for. It is irritating beyond words to not be able to find a decent meal of your choice, when on a vacation. I can wing it, for like a meal or two by surviving on bread and cheese (or something just as unsatisfying to pass off as a “meal”), but you need your strength to be able to enjoy the much-awaited (and well-planned) holiday. Enter smart-phone. Using any of these apps suggested here, help with finding places that have vegetarian options and planning ahead. I will discuss more tricks that have worked for us, in next few posts.
I have personally used HappyCow and found it extremely helpful. Of course the true test would lie in using it in countries that do not readily have vegetarian options available.
Hiring a car for local travel
Check your options well in advance because in tourist season the car hiring places may be fully booked. Online enquiries or consulting with your hotels is a good way to know your options.
Lastly, talk to your friends who have been to same places and they would give you genuine feedback and advice on the smallest details that you must take note of. Gathering information from all the popular sources is pretty much all that any travel planning consists of.
Enough with imparting knowledge. For now. I shall be back with another post which is the more fun part of the planning. Well, relatively, for those of you who totally detest any planning whatsoever.
Where’s the hygge?
Spontaneous travels might be a thing in the movies but in real life, and by this age, most of us want our money and time’s worth. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ has never found a more appropriate use in my vocabulary before. The hygge is in the details that are in place to make a vacation run smooth.