These tips work for planning any kind of trip, from a quick weekend getaway to a month-long journey abroad. Some of them might seem fairly obvious, but hopefully a few of them will be new to you and save you some time, money or frustration. (Ideally, all three!)
1) Check flights that leave on Tuesday or Wednesday: It’s normal to want to have a nice, tidy, calendar week to cross off as “on vacation,” but those Sunday to Saturday departure and arrival dates can cost you mucho dough. If you can be flexible, check flights that leave in the middle of the week. They’re usually cheaper, and you can spend that extra cash on something fun, like renting a jet ski or getting pampered at a spa at your destination.
2) Book your flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday: That same flight you saw for $$$$ on Saturday could be down to $$ if you check again on Tuesday or Wednesday. Same flight. Same date. Same everything, except for when you’re booking it. Most people do a lot of their errands (vacation planning included) on the weekends, so it makes sense that booking your trips at an off moment, like mid-week, can find you some deals. Also, a great way to keep an eye on shifting flight prices is to sign up for any of the fare alerts offered by airlines or travel-booking sites. Have someone else do the research and save your money (and time)!
3) Sign up for airline reward programs: These programs aren’t just for business travelers and jetsetters. Most airline frequent flyer programs are free to enroll in, and being a member can sometimes get you sweet perks like early boarding. It’s also a good bargaining chip to have if you’re dealing with a customer service issue. Plus, every flight will get you closer to a free ticket.
4) Plan, plan, plan: Have an idea of where you’ll be, where you might want to go and what you might want to do. You don’t have to plan every single second if that’s not your style, but you’ll want to have an idea of things you want to see. Itineraries (whether they’re loose and adaptable or planned down to bathroom breaks) are your friend. The idea is to not waste time with indecision. Maybe crack open a travel guide or log on to the city’s website and get some ideas before you go.
5) Be realistic: If you have 2 days, you probably won’t get to see the White House in DC, Faneuil Hall in Boston AND Acadia National Park in Maine. You could (as in, it’s probably technically possible to do), but do you really want to be checking your watch constantly and on the road for most of the time? What I’m saying is: be realistic about what you can do in the time you have (and the distance you can comfortably cover).
6) Have fun: If these tips aren’t working for you, disregard them. Toss them out for your trip and do what feels right. Just like you should see and do what you want on your travels, you should plan and prepare in a way that feels right for you. The fun part can be making mistakes and learning to do things better next time.
What are your best travel planning/trip prep tips?
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