Whenever we travel, there is a complex process behind it to make every experience as perfect as possible. Most people would like that buying airplane tickets, booking hotel rooms, transport and packing, were things that could be avoided or done by anyone else, so we could just enjoy the trip itself.
Here are some tips that will make your life easier and save you a lot of time and money.
First, you must decide which time of year is best for you. When going on holidays, we often do what everyone else does, which is, travel on spring, summer or winter breaks. However, these times of year are the busiest for most cities around the world, therefore, hotel, transport and entertainment fares are higher during these periods that any other time of year.
You should put your priorities in order. What is more important to you? Are you on a tight budget? Do you prefer enjoying the breaks from school to spend with your children? Do you enjoy warm or cold weather when you travel?
Ask yourself these questions and you will be able to choose: 1) a destination, 2) a season and 3) a budget.
If you don’t mind the crowds on your favorite holiday destinations, you can try booking your hotel and buying the plane tickets in advance, the perfect time frame for this is from 4 to 6 months before the set date, where you will find less elevated prices and availability. A great option is seizing discounts and promotions such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, since some airlines are taking over those “holidays” to offer incredible deals on plane tickets.
But if the holidays are not a must-have for you, choose the off-season, it is always cheaper and crowd levels are low, which means less time spent waiting in lines and more time to enjoy your favorite painting in that busy museum you like, or sitting on a bench in a park that would otherwise be flooded with people getting their best selfies for Instagram.
Remember: The internet is your best friend.
When you’re browsing through all the accommodation options, always choose breakfast included. By booking online, there are deals with breakfast for a couple of extra dollars, much cheaper than adding it last minute once you check in at the hotel. It will be a lifesaver if you are either on a tight schedule or a budget, and you can always take a fruit, yogurt or bottled water for when you need a snack later in the day, that way you avoid very expensive breakfast charges and save your money for a good meal in a place you actually like.
Another thing you can plan before your trip is getting the entrances for all the things you want to do. For example, some museums around the world offer special prices for online tickets, and you can save a lot of time because you will not have to wait in line to buy them. Just be careful, many online tickets are time-sensitive, which means you have to be there at a certain time if you want to make it valid. If you are still a student, you can buy your tickets online with a discount, too, just don’t forget to bring your school card in case you are asked to present it.
Big touristic cities such as New York, Paris, London, amongst others, have the option of a card with tickets for all the must-see attractions at a special price. They are usually a little expensive if you don’t take advantage of all the entrances, but if you are new to a place and want to visit it all, this is a great choice. Buy them online too and just pick it up once you get there!
Finally, make friends with Google maps. Optimize your itinerary, define your route depending on how far or close you are to a place. For example, visit the closest thing first and then move farther away or begin at the furthest destination and then start getting closer. That way you won’t end up wasting your valuable time by running around in circles all over the city. Also, download the offline version map of the places you are going to visit so you do not end up wasting battery and your phone data, because you are most definitely going to use the map to figure out bus, metro or train routes to get to your destination.
Travel light and be open
This should be your new travel mantra. Travel light and be open.
Although I know that sometimes, the nature of the trip does not allow you to travel with a carry-on suitcase, “travelling light” is more of a state of mind. Having less things to worry about or knowing that you can live five days with the same pair of shoes is liberating. It allows you to be present and enjoy every single moment of your trip.
Moreover, if you go on a long journey, maybe 20 days travelling all over Europe, you probably think the suitcase is supposed to be huge. But these trips are the ones when you are going to wish you brought a smaller bag. Imagine going around five countries with a huge suitcase and a backpack, having to transport that luggage all around airports and train stations, through metro rides and hotel rooms. Having to unpack and pack each time you go to a different place hoping all your souvenirs fit and that airlines do not charge you for the extra weight.
The best advice you are going to hear is: travel with the essentials. Do you really need a bathing suit just in case there is a pool at the hotel you know you are never visiting? Or gym clothes because you are obviously working out on your holidays? There is nothing wrong with these items if you are going to use them, but if you don’t, there is no need to carry the extra weight.
If you travel light means you are ready and open for everything that might happen, because most likely, nothing is going to go the way you planned. And that is okay.
You are going to have the best trip of your life.