The beginning of the year is usually the time during which people start to plan their travels for the year, which sounds like a rather enjoyable way of occupying oneself as it makes one dream of new destinations that lie ahead and days off spent on some beach where the only sorrow one knows is to not forget to switch from back to belly when tanning every once in a while.
Well… and then your dreams of stress free booking are crushed by a trillion of websites offering all kinds of different things for every imaginable price level and you and up feeling as if your head might explode. Questions like “What if that’s a price trap?”, “That deal sound kind of fake?”, “Is this website trustworthy?”, “Is AirBnB worth the hype?” and “Wouldn’t it be better to just let someone at a travel agency do this?”
I’ll be answering all these questions today and hope that I’ll be able to not only help you with planning your next trip but also take away a bit of fear someone might have when it comes to booking holidays on the scary place that is known as the internet.
I have divided this post into sections for better structure. They can all be read together as a whole but can also be read individually if one section interests you in particular.
- Research is KEY
- Finding a Hotel
- Planning a Trip or Diving Straight into It?
- Hand Luggage or Bulky, Heavy Suitcase?
1) Research is KEY
Firstly, I am not a fan of travel agencies. They generally generate prices that are a lot higher than what you are offered on the internet for the same value simply because public service in involved. That doesn’t need much explaining. BUT I have to admit that travel agencies have their perks when it comes to trips that involve all inclusive accommodations and travels that go beyond the annual Europe trip to some capital city. If I was going some place like Bali, the Seychelles, the Maledives or somewhere else tropical where I have no clue what is to expect and what to even look for, I’d definitely recommend seeking professional help because no one wants to end up in some dirty, run down hell hole when going on holiday. That would sort of defeat the purpose and I’d also cry over the money that was wasted on a bad holiday.
City trips however, or general beach holidays, can easily be booked online entirely stress free when you start planning your trips at the right time. I have figured in the last couple of years in which I have not only rather unintentionally become the travel and booking “expert” for not only our family trips but trips with friends as well that starting to plan a trip WITHIN Europe approximately four months in advance makes the most sense – in terms of price AND time management.
Because one thing is essential about the whole booking process when you’re doing it yourself. IT TAKES TIME. AND PATIENCE. You can’t just book a proper trip on one day. It takes time to research and compare prices. You can literally save up to 150€ or more when taking your time to just browse through various pages on the internet.
My favourite websites to compare prices are booking.com, trivago.at and expedia.at. They are easy to use and give you every essential information you might need.
2) Finding a Hotel
Now the most complicated part might be finding the right accommodation. I am aware that everyone has individual preferences when travelling and that some people would never stay at a hotel but this is just the way I personally do it. I grew up always staying in hotels and am personally not very keen of camping and hostels as I find it rather gross sharing my bathroom with hundred other people (I have done it before, it wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it either and as holidays should be something you enjoy, opt for something that feels right for you). Before I choose a hotel I do my research on which areas in the city I wanna go to are convenient and preferably not too sketchy as I am a coward who gets easily intimidated and a safe area is just something I personally need to fully enjoy myself. When doing research, I tend to inform myself on the internet via travel reviews and blogs but first and foremost I always approach friends of who I know they know what I need and want and who have been to that place before so I trust their tips and recommendations.
Additionally I inform myself about the transport system, look up where bus lines and underground stops are located and check on the overall public transport system. Most people tend to always want to be right in the city centre, which might be convenient as everything might be in walking distance but also affects the price massively. Therefore I tend to rather choose hotels outside the centre which still have a good transport connection to the centre. I am going to Paris in exactly two months and we have managed to find a 4-star-hotel for 215€ per person with breakfast for three nights. I mean if that’s not a good deal.
Furthermore, I religiously read through reviews and comments on the hotels as those immediately give away the quality of the hotel because obviously hotels won’t be advertising their flaws on the internet. My favourite website for hotel reviews is holidaycheck.com as people can additionally add pictures to their reviews which raises the credibility of their comments and gives me an actual idea of the quality of the hotel
I have also come to LOVE a website called secretescapes.de which offers luxury accommodations for small prices as their offers change every week on Sunday or Monday, meaning you have a limited time to book but the value you get for the price is actually insane. I have booked hotels via Secret Escapes multiple times now and I have always ended up paying between 100 and 200€ for a four to five day trip in a 5-star-hotel, breakfast included (and upgrades too sometimes, we went to Vienna once and were upgraded into a suite that was bigger than my flat NO JOKE, the bathroom alone was the size of my living room I legit never wanted to leave that place again)
So, if you like a bit of luxury for a small price and are spontaneous when it comes to booking, I’d definitely recommend Secret Escapes, it’s honestly worth gold.
If hotels aren’t for you but you’d still like to enjoy a bit of comfort when travelling I highly recommend AirBnB. I am telling you it IS worth the hype. My best friend and I have decided to never book anything other than an AirBnb ever again after our trip to Amsterdam last year. It was our first time staying at one and I have fallen in love with those kinds of accommodations as it’s an amazing way of feeling just like a local and the prices are rather reasonable as well. Obviously, reading the reviews is yet again the key otherwise one could easily fall for a scam but the website is highly professional and so are the majority of the people offering entire homes or rooms in their own apartments.
3) Planning a Trip or Diving Straight into It?
Well, I assume the answer to this question highly depends on your personal preferences. I myself like to balance structure with adventure. I don’t like travelling to a new place entirely unprepared as it gives me anxiety and stresses me out but I don’t like trips that are planned from top to bottom either as it takes away the luxury of spontaneity. When doing city trips my friends and I tend to all write a list of things each one of us really wants to do, compare those lists and then decide what we WANT to do, what we would LIKE to do and things that we could do when there’s time or when it’s convenient. Structuring a trip like this gives you an idea of what lies ahead of you but still gives you the freedom to change things up because you never know what you might stumble across when finally on the trip.
What I tend to do as well is to look up which sights or spots are in areas close to each other as I think it’s rubbish to travel all across town to cover just two or three spots when you can plan your day in a way you can stay in a certain area and use another day for another area across town. Obviously you want to see as much as possible but city trips are still supposed to be holidays and not some kind of alternate marathon. I mean I would very much like to still be able to use my feet after four days of being away.
4) Hand Luggage or Bulky, Heavy Suitcase?
I’ll be referring you back to the blog post I did back in June 2017 when I discovered the glorious invention of hand luggage trolleys and the awesomeness of travelling light. Honestly, I will never use big suitcases for city trips ever again. (Trips to the beach or trips longer than 5 days excluded I am still a woman at the end of the day)
Now that I have properly hyped myself up for my trips this year I hope this has helped you in some kind of way. Feel free to drop a comment on how you travel and where you’re planning to go this year.