Learn how to travel smartly with these tips and toolsPlanning
Planning for any trip can make or break your whole experience and I want to share some of the tips and tools I use in for travel to make life easier for me.
Accommodation is generally the trickiest part of any trip planning. A great tip for travel is to book a couple of months in advance. I always aim to book a couple of months in advance the latest because it gives me the freedom of mind. Generally, city centres are a good spot and a quick google check reveals the best areas to stay and the gay quarters. I’ll mention those in each trip pages.
Trivago – A good price comparison site for all booking sites which centralises all options
Booking.com – Trivago normally gives a good comparison of all booking sites including booking.com but I still check it separately.
Airbnb – My new favourite for sure. It not only gives me better and cheaper options but also connects to the locals and you have the choice to go shared to reserving the whole villas for yourself.
Just to be sure always make sure the place you are booking has plenty of photos and check the reviews as well as contact the host with the stuff you’re concerned about to not have issues when there. It also gives a good idea of how responsive the host generally is.
I always ask my hosts about what to do and usually get some really good tips about how to experience any place like a local as well as recommendations for good restaurants that serve local food. You can find a detailed description of finding the best accommodation here.
TripAdvisor – We all know about Tripadvisor but I generally use it to ask questions in forums if I can’t find anything on the topic or to check which tours to book.
Free Walking Tours – Almost all big cities in Europe have free walking tours, some more than others and with a couple of exceptions they are REALLY good, I’ll mention which ones I used within the city pages.
For most of them, you just turn up but some of them require booing in advance so always check before you go. You can find more ways to explore a new city here.
Skyscanner Flights – This is the stuff of dreams honestly. Skyscanner not only gives you a comparison of different airlines but also gives you the option to check the cheapest flights (Simply search for ‘Everywhere’ as a destination or if you don’t know when to go just go month by month basis and it gives you the daily price details)
Red Alert: One of the best travel tips I can give you is to NEVER EVER buy your tickets from
Agencies, they will charge you scathing amounts for making the smallest changes to your booking if needed and in case of cancellations they charge more amounts than the price of tickets sometimes especially for long haul flights. Always navigate to the airlines website and buy tickets from there. If the agency goes bankrupt the airline might not honour the flight and insurance does not cover this scenario. You can find a detailed guide on finding the best deal on flights here.
Tip: Always clear your browsers history before checking flights. This will get you the real prices and not based on the searches you did before based on cookies.
Hopper – Hopper is amazing for flights planning because it sets up alerts and lets you know when your flights is at its predicted cheapest point, very handy for those long haul expensive flights…
Skiplagged – This is another comparison website and sometimes the fares are cheaper here than other sites.
Skyscanner – CarHire – Another one of genius sites by Skyscanner that gives you a good price comparison for a lot of options.
Tip: It is always best to pay slightly more to hire a car directly from a company instead of going through the agency. On a recent trip, the agency went bankrupt, we had to pay for the car again and it was not covered by insurance. If you can’t find a reasonable option, pay as little as possible now and pay on arrival. Find the best mode of transportation for you here.
Another tip for travel is to make an itinerary. I always create a one-page itinerary and print it to avoid any issue and having to go through a lot of emails and papers when you need it the most. Feel free to use this as a format.
You can read more about planning a perfect trip here.
Another important tip for travel is to run these general checks mentioned below before you leave.
Always check if you need a visa and print the website page for reference. It saved my life so many times. If you are not a British or EU citizen please write to the embassy to get written confirmation, trust me it will save you a lot of time and hassle.
Make sure you have Travel and health Insurance, sometimes you just need to call your bank and in most cases it works quite cheap. It saves a lot of hassle and in most cases, it is strictly required.
Need I say it? The last thing you want is to be struck with Malaria on your holiday to Brazil. Get the relevant vaccines and you can find more details from the UK Government Travel Advice Website.
Always check what the roaming charges will be for your provider to avoid excessive charges. And if not, search online about how and which sim card to get to access the internet. Relying on wifi just doesn’t work in most cases where you need live maps to navigate around or search for stuff online.
This app saved my life on so many occasions that I’ll forgive the bad translations that almost made me look like a buffoon. I even had a fight with hotel staff in the Canary Islands on Google Translate and won. (It was about clean towels..)
I find Google Maps to be more detailed than any other map provider and you can preplan your trips and download the maps for offline version when you don’t have internet or don’t have reception. You can download all the itinerary maps from my posts and save them for later.
Probably the most useful thing I ever bought was a battery pack that charges my phone when I am not using it and with the number of pictures that I take, my phone is usually gone in 4 to 5 hours. I’d recommend this Ankar one which is not too heavy and charges my phone at least 3 to 4 times.
You need a tote or a drawstring bag, especially in summer. I love these simple bags or you have the option to buy them from each city with their symbol on it. You can also read about packing here.
Never underestimate the importance of a good but compact umbrella. It saves you both from rain and sun and you will need it more often than you can think especially in Europe.
Smile & Courtesy
Always be nice to locals and be courteous. Don’t assume the world would run based on the culture you’re used to at home. I have always found locals to be the best source of info and helpful if you smile and show respect for them. They can also turn your trip into hell if they choose to especially when you’re in a completely different terrain.