This post follows on from For the Travel Newbie – Part 1: Be your own travel agent
6) Book your vacation leave off at work
Now that you are certain of where, when, where and how you want to go, get your vacation leave booked off and approved by your employer. You will then be at ease to go ahead and make final bookings.
7) Book your international inbound and outbound flights online
We usually make sure that we book the main international inbound and outbound flights first.
If we are planning to do a few places in a limited time, the best way to travel is an open-jaw flight – in to Lima, Peru and flying out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Use the multi-destination option on websites such as Travelstart, Kayak, Orbitz to compare multiple airlines.
The best option is to try to get the best fare for the least amount of travel time. We usually find that Emirates are substantially lower in price than other airlines but the long layover and travel time may not make it viable. In such cases it would make sense to pay a bit more for a direct flight that cuts down on transit time.
8) Book internal flights and transportation online
Try to figure out the most efficient and cost-effective route in between your inbound and outward flight. Internal flights can sometimes be very expensive, so consider other transportation methods such as trains, buses or hiring a private car. We have used overnight buses and trains in Europe, South America and Turkey which is not the most comfortable way to spend the night but saves money on accommodation for that night and is much more affordable than flying. Always use reputable companies
If you have limited time and want to cover long distances, flights are always best. For some local low cost carriers, checking-in luggage carries an extra charge. Make sure you factor this into your costings.
Another word of advice that we have only learnt recently: Look at the times of departure and arrival – it may be difficult to get transport to and from the airport early in the morning and late at night and could end up costing much more as well as being very inconvenient for you. Taxi’s waiting outside the airport at odd hours will usually charge more. It’s also incredibly tiring waking up in the early hours of the morning after a tiring day of sightseeing the day before.
9) Book accommodation online
For accommodation, try Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Hotels.com – most of these websites carry an option for free cancellation until a certain date (should your travel plans change or you find something more suitable).
When looking at traveler review on these sites, be sure to look at the ratio of excellent/ good to poor/terrible. Always look for ratings highly in favour of good/excellent and at the number of reviews. Have a look at the poor and terrible ratings to pick up on a trend or a particular area of dissatisfaction. Look at the maps to see proximity to subways, bus stations and places of interests.
It’s always a bonus if the accommodation is bed and breakfast, great to not stress about where to fill up on in the mornings before a full day exploring. I cannot function without a good breakfast!
10) Book any tours that you you want to go on before hand
Its not necessary to pre-book all tours. However, if there is one that you don’t want to miss out on or is known for booking out quickly then book in advance for piece of mind.
Use your discretion on whether a tour guide is necessary, sometimes a good guide book and research is sufficient especially if there are well written English explanations and captions along the way in museums and at other sights. Audio guides are now available for an additional charges at various sites. In some case where the area is not adequately marked, not easily accessible, dangerous or you have little or no knowledge – using an accredited tour guide is your best option. Agree on price before hand, ensure they are easy to understand and knowledgeable and go through what is included in the tour briefly before committing.
11) Sort out visas and any travel vaccinations/ prophylactic medications.
Visa application requirements differ between countries. Ensure that at least 2 months before planned date of departure you have applied for the necessary visas. Multiple entry visas may be required if you are travelling back and forth between destinations.
Some countries require confirmation that you have taken yellow fever vaccinations as part of entry requirements, some areas are malaria zones and it is strongly advised that a course of anti-malarial medication be initiated before and during your stay in the affected areas. It is also recommended to have Hepatitis A and C vaccination if travelling to some areas of questionable sanitation standards – consult your nearest travel clinic for individual requirements.
That is the major planning all done – now to pack!!! Tips for packing appropriately to follow….