With the unofficial start of summer upon us, it’s time (if you haven’t already) to book your summer travel! Through the years I’ve traveled a whole lot, both for pleasure and for work. I don’t typically enlist the help of travel agents & prefer to do all my bookings on my own (it’s that control freak side of me.) That’s not to say you shouldn’t use one, they can be invaluable in certain situations. During the busiest seasons (summer, Christmas, etc) try your best to plan several months ahead. Life happens & sometimes you don’t have that much time…do what you can but try to book everything at once so you don’t miss out.
Be sure to carve out some quiet focus time when planning a trip. It can take a while especially if you have multi-destination trips. Distractions can add to the time and can make you more prone to making mistakes. I always have several browser windows open during bookings, it’s best to be on a large laptop or desktop computer to make this process more streamlined. I also have maps, articles, reviews etc. open if I need to learn about a new place.
Here’s my steps for booking trips, I do all of these simultaneously before booking any one item…just in case there’s no flights, lodging, transfers, rental cars etc. It’s way easier to book things all at once then it is to cancel them. With the proper planning you can avoid pesky cancellation fees and being shut out of opportunities. If you are traveling international, make sure your passport has not expired. Also, keep in mind that some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip.
- Make a folder dedicated to this trip only, this will keep everything organized & ready to access. Plan on bringing this folder with you.
- Have a printer handy.
- Look at the airfare for the dates you want to travel. Make sure there are flight options available before anything else. I use Google Flights and airlines I have points on to cross reference fares. If you don’t like the fare, set up alerts maybe something better will pop up. Don’t want too long though, there’s a chance the flights can go up in price too. It’s always a gamble! Be aware of the time difference as well, this could also affect what flights you choose.
- While looking at flights…look at your lodging options. I stay at a mix of AirBnb & hotels. Make sure the properties you want are available. Have a list of your essential criteria handy (beds, air conditioning, fireplace, view, etc) and make sure the properties you look at have them. When it comes to AirBnb I typically go with the Superhosts and have always done well. Always read reviews.
- Search and book any air, rail, bus, boat transfers. These will likely be needed on multi-destination trips.
- Book a rental car if needed.
- If you have a points credit card, maybe it’s time to use some of those to offset costs on flights, lodging, etc.
- Look to see if there are any special events that you want to go to or avoid during your time of travel. If there’s an event or restaurant you don’t want to miss book it now.
- If everything looks like a go, it’s time to hit the purchase buttons on your flights, lodging, events, restaurants, etc.
- Print out all of your reservations & for back up take pictures with your phone and add to a new album. This way in case you lose the print outs they are still accessible.
Happy trails my friends! If you have any handy travel tips please share in the comments.