Planning a trip can be very stressful. Where to go, where to stay, how long to spend in each place, how to get around, how to budget, what not to miss and so on and so on. So a few apps and technologies may come in handy. I know I’m probably misusing the terminology (Apps & Technologies) as my techie fiancé would point out, but just work with me here!
There’s thousands of technologies out there! In this post I will just focus on the ones that work for me.
What I love about Skyscanner is that it shows you the prices of flights for the whole month making sure you don’t miss that low price (only if your dates are flexible!). So I usually go to Skyscanner and check the cheapest day to fly then I go and confirm on Cheapflights, then book from whichever is cheapest (Thrifty much?).
Just like flights, hotels are cheaper off peak and midweek. For hotel bookings I use Bookings.com and Hotels.com . The difference in prices for the same room type in the same hotel is shocking sometimes.
Then the same hotel on Hotels.com for the same dates_R510 difference!
So make sure you really “shop” around online first before pulling out that credit card, except of course if you have 99 problems but money ain’t one of them.
I personally find bookings.com cheaper but I like that with hotels.com, you get 1 free night for every 10 nights you book with them. So if the price difference is negligible then I pick hotels.com.
To collect nights, you need to sign up, then everytime you book, make sure you are logged in.
Then last year I discovered Airbnb ! With Airbnb, you get to stay in someone’s home/house. It’s relatively cheaper and offers a more authentic experience.
Read reviews before committing to a hotel, trust me. At least you’ll know what to expect and whether that hotel is really worth your hard earned Mandelas.
My favourite part of trip planning. Who needs a travel agent really when you have a smart phone! My travel agents at the moment are Triphobo and Tripomatic (Sygic Travel) and I consult with TripAdvisor before committing to anything. Once in Venice, I ignored all the “Avoid that restaurant” advice on TripAdvisor, and ended up spending 70 Euros (R1000) for the most horrible meal I’d ever had (Long story!). I could silently hear TripAdvisor saying “I told you so”.
Ok so back to trip planning. You can either download the app or sign up online and work from there. The awesome thing with these travel apps is that you can go through the itineraries of other people that have been to the place you are interested in. From those, you can easily build your own (Just Copy & Paste).
Also, some of these apps, like Tripomatic will diarise all your plans, from flight details, hotel bookings to car rental details. And when visiting a place of interest, they will even suggest how long to spend there. The app will map out all your “go to” places and show you the distances between each place and suggest how you get from point A to point B. How awesome is that!
Now that you’ve arrived at your destination. To get around, public transport is the cheapest but in a foreign land it could be tricky, especially if you don’t speak the local language. So apps like Uber, GrabTaxi and Google Maps of course can rescue you time and time again like if you find yourself stranded outside a Bangkok theme park at 8 pm because you had so much fun you forgot you don’t have a car 😦 .
Some countries like Thailand don’t have Uber, instead they have GrabTaxi which works in a similar way. Also, it could help to download offline maps if you won’t have Internet connectivity.
Google maps is great for public transport, it will give you the bus/train number so even if you can’t speak the language, you’ll know which bus to take. Use Maps to “move” with you so that you know when to get off.
For long distance travel especially, I use Rome2Rio . Rome2Rio gives you all possible modes of transport you can use, the time they take to reach your destination, estimated fares and links to sites where you can purchase tickets.
Where to eat? Is that excursion worth doing?
TripAdvisor has the answers for you.
Communicating with locals
Google translate has got you. Just avoid translating paragraphs of text, as Google seems to get confused sometimes ans translates its own things that don’t make sense. Stick to a few words.
A good phone
A power bank to keep your good phone charged up
SD cards for storage
Make sure you back up your pictures occasionally so that should you lose your phone or should anything happen to it, you have your memories safely in a cloud somewhere.
Research the hell out of a place before going to it. Read up on it, read blogs like Lonely Planet about other people’s experiences, read reviews of tours you want to purchase, ask people who’ve been there about their experiences, go on Google earth and see your hotel so you have an idea of its exact location. Just do the research.