Saturday, 8 June 2013

How to plan a trip?

Before you travel,you need to plan your travel.The first thing you need to decide is your destination,make an itinerary.Making an itinerary consumes a bit of time and needs concentration.Online research is a great way to go about.

Step 1-Deciding the destination

Destination mainly depends on 2 factors-Time and Budget. If none is the problem then deciding the destination gets very easy.Decide a destination and make a rough itinerary if it fits your budget then go ahead with it else you need to change the destination.If the destination is already decided then you need to check the time to travel.What is the weather going to be like.You do not want to waste your time in the hotel as it pours or snows outside.So check the weather conditions,best time to travel to the place.If you have not decided the destination,then check for the weather conditions and the budget in the places you would want to visit.Depending on the weather,activities and budget,you can easily decide your destination.

Step 2-Bookings(Flights and Accommodation)

Bookings if made well in advance can save you some cash. Lot of airlines keep coming up with  offers.If you are not time bound,you can get yourself a great deal.We have been lucky and got some unbelievable deals from Airasia a couple of times.You need to plan well in advance for that.Book yourself,you don't need to  pay the travel agents just to book your tickets,it's very simple.Check the rates and timings whichever suits you the best,book that. Travel on off times and mid-weeks,the tickets are cheap.Book round-trips.

Transport First
If you want to travel within the country,book the flight,train or ferries. E.g if you want to visit the islands in Greece,the ferries are much cheaper and frequent than the flights.But then again if you do not book in advance chances are you might not get the tickets.Check the schedules of the ferries or trains and book to avoid disappointment. Same way transits to different cities/location in your itinerary
need to be aligned to your plans for the day. Take into account the time of travel to airport , train/bus station, traffic conditions, availability of taxis, etc.

TIP: Do not plan for the best case scenarios alone. Give yourself some buffer time to ride over some unforeseen issues like traffic jams, long check-in queues, security checks etc.

Time for the Hotel
When you are done with the flight bookings,make a rough itinerary so you can decide on the hotel. Generally hotels closer to the hot locations within the city are expensive. So take some time to make a good trade off between the distance from airport city centers etc and the price of the hotel. For example in Bangkok if you you may want to stay in Siam as it closer to all shopping places,smack in the center of the city and has a Skytrain station.

TIP:  Travel sites like Tripadvisor has genuine reviews for most hotels that you may be considering. Experiences from travelers often provide insights that only first hand experience can give. Compare the prices of the hotel on few different websites and DO NOT FORGET to check the hotel website. You are most likely to get the best deals from the hotels directly.

Contribute back to the site with your views and reviews for the place you have visited. You may be helping some one plan better.

Step 4-Activities within the city

Make a list of things you would like to do.Some bookings like dinner reservations, tours etc, need to be done in advance.
While we abide by the principle to dig up our own well to drink in terms of making travel arrangements there are a few place where you cannot go on your own or self made arrangements do not make sense from cost-benefit perspective .
For eg-In Phuket,you need to go by a boat to visit the beautiful Phang Nga. It's better in such cases to book a tour from a local tour guide.
Online search would help you find tours that offers the best deal, Most of the agents are reliable,they would pick you up from the hotel at the correct time and go exactly according to the the itinerary mentioned by them.
 To do items for the day should not be incongruous . Like day long island hopping, swimming, snorkeling etc ( yes all these often feature together; check tours in Phuket)  may leave you too tired to go on a planned evening-shopping-spree.

TIP: Plans about the future often make Gods laugh so sketch out a option B in your to-do/ itinerary, to fall back on, if your option A falls apart.

Step 5-Things to Carry

When traveling internationally make sure to get the visa well in time.
Look around to get the best currency exchanges.
There are somethings that you cannot afford to leave behind (Tickets, passports, money etc). Prepare the list of such items and double check that they are ready and packed. Seems obvious; well life has a funny way to make a joke of us, so lets make sure that we keep the odds of that happening to the minimum :)

 TIP: Travel light,traveling with heavy luggage restricts your adventures and shopping and causes discomfort.If you planning to go on the beach,carry beachwear,sunscreen and swimsuits.Carry clothes according to the weather of the place.

In the End
How much ever you research there is always something more waiting to be explored.
Keep a day just for exploring the city,it's always fun to randomly walk around. Do not make your itinerary an end in itself but means to achieve the end i.e joy of exploring and experiencing the unseen.
Allow adjustments.

At the end just have fun, that's what matters-travel however you like,do what you like,be comfortable and safe.