I’m going to let you in on some of our SECRET and most TRUSTWORTHY tools that we use for all our trip planning and holiday bookings. Spoiler alert: there is no one travel site to rule them all, rather it’s a secret sauce made up of many sites depending on where in the world we are travelling. So, are you intrigued? Go on, keep reading.
How do we find flights?
The main site that we use to gage flight times and prices is Skyscanner, and I’ve personally been using this site for almost 10 years now. It gives you a good price overview for a date period or over a monthly period if you’re flexible with dates. I also cross check the prices that Skyscanner gives me with another flight search engine, Momondo, as well as individual airlines directly.
Generally I prefer to book directly with the airline as booking through third party websites may mean any changes to your flight booking is not communicated to you effectively, and the last thing you want is to do is turn up to the airport and find out you’ve missed your flight because the website didn’t tell you about a time change. This is less likely to happen when you book directly with the airline.
How do we choose accomodation?
The main site we’ve used to find our accomodation is booking.com.* It gives you a good variety of accomodation styles and types at different budgets, and also an added bonus of using this site is the genius scheme where is you book with them so many times you can access genius only discounts and specials, such as room upgrades or late checkouts. Some of the best accomodation stays we’ve had were found through booking.com* and cost us a fraction of the price thanks to the genius discount.
A new site we’ve only recently tried out has been Airbnb, though we find it can be a little hit and miss, and we do prefer the no strings attached rigmarole of hotel stays compared to staying in people’s homes. This is one we have found useful when we have friends or family traveling with us as splitting the cost of an Airbnb stay becomes very cost effective.
How do I know which tour to choose?
When we’ve looked at booking tours you really can’t beat Tripadvisor. I’ve been helped along in choosing many tours by checking out the reviews on Tripadvisor, though there is definitely an art to finding the right reviewers who are honest and relatable to your circumstances. The key here is to look for people leaving reviews in a similar demographic to yourself, and find in their review what is important for them and see if that matches with you. For example, if I’m looking for an overnight cruise I’m not going to take much notice of a reviewer who is in their early 20s and complains about a tour that doesn’t have a party atmosphere on it, since I’m in my mid 30s the last thing I want to do on a boat is drink myself silly and rage into the early morning – been there, done that!
I also do a generic search in a web search engine such as Google on the company name and the tour type with the word “review” in it, eg ‘Company XX Whitsundays overnight cruise review’. Then I’ll sort through the options that come up and after I’ve read a few I’ll get a good idea on what the good and bad points of the cruise are, which helps me decide on if I’ll book it.
How do I find things to do at a particular destination?
Firstly, know what it is you like and enjoy doing, then hop onto a web search engine and look that up in relation to your destination. For example, I know that Siu On and I enjoy rock climbing and we may have a trip to Thailand planned, so I’d type in to Google, ‘rock climbing in Thailand’, and sort through the sites that were returned for ideas or advice.
I do have a few tried and tested sites that have helped with our trip planning a lot and include:
- Travelfish.org for travel in South East Asia.
- Japan-Guide.com for Japan travel.
- Atlas Obscura for strange and unusual travel ideas.
So there you have it, the bare bones of our tried and true travel tools which help us book our holidays. If you have any others that you love and think are worthy then leave us a message on our Facebook page and start the conversation.
Jelena and Siu On
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