You’ve budgeted for it. You’ve saved up the days off. You can’t wait to pack your bags and hit the road (or the airport). Making your dream vacation a reality can seem intimidating, though. There are a lot of things to consider when you plan a trip, and not everyone has the time and money to put into working with a travel agent. The great news is that there’s an abundance of tools available to help us plan a trip on our own and save money at the same time.
Sign Up for Emails
Months before you plan a trip, it’s a good idea to sign up for promotional emails with the hotels, airlines, and travel sites you expect to use. If you sign up for them months in advance, you may find that the deals come to you via email without even having to search for them. That way, you’re almost letting someone else plan a trip for you.
Read Reviews Online
Short of that, fire up your computer, because it will be your best friend as you plan a trip. You may still be looking for inspiration when it comes to deciding where you want to go, and the Internet can offer thousands of ideas when you plan a trip. The Boston Globe published and article about how to plan a trip online with your smartphone, and it mentioned,
“Some sites are designed to whet your appetite for specific destinations, properties, or activities. For example, a new site called triptuner.com — with a home page resembling a slot machine — helps you choose and design a trip uniquely suited to your tastes and interests. Vayable.com operates like a matchmaker, picking local guides who provide unique ‘insider’ tours and experiences for travelers.”
Now that you’ve found your inspiration to plan a trip, online is where you will find the truth about the places you’re considering visiting. Reviewers on the World Wide Web have no other motivation than to rave about a place they loved or warn potential guests against a place that was disappointing, and that honesty can come in handy when you plan a trip. Tripadvisor.com is still one of the most trafficked review sites and is a great place to start. When you plan a trip, you may think you know what you want, but getting the real deal from actual customers will help you narrow down your options.
Figure Out When You Need To Go
Once you’ve decided on your destination, the next step when you plan a trip is to find out which travel dates are going to be the best deal. Depending on the season (or even how soon you want to travel), you can find incredible discounts on hotel rooms, cruises, and flights. If your travel dates are flexible, travel auction sites can be the best way to plan a trip. Travel + Leisure published an article about the savings one can experience if you plan a trip through a travel auction site. Priceline, Inspirato, Jetsetter, Vacationist, and LuxuryLink are just a few of the popular travel auction sites to visit when you plan a trip. Travel + Leisure also has these tips when you plan a trip with a travel auction site:
• Do read the fine print and know what you’re signing on for prior to bidding or booking.
• Make sure you look closely at the valid travel dates for the package you are bidding on and have the dates you want to travel in mind.
• Check for flight availability during your ideal time frame and call the hotel or try the hotel website in advance for availability; it might help you avoid disappointment, especially during high season.
• Auctions are non-refundable, but there is a “Buy Now” option that costs slightly more if you want to lock in a rate and have more flexibility on making date changes.
• Trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true, that may very well be the case.
Call the Hotel
Finally, a good tip to know when you plan a trip is that calling a hotel directly can sometimes lead to a better deal than one you would find online. Much the same way an accountant can find deductibles you didn’t know about, the person helping you at the hotel will be happy to answer your questions about special discounts they may have, be they AAA, AARP, or corporate. Hotels also sometimes have discounts for local residents, so if you’re looking to plan a trip that is a staycation, you wouldn’t know about these discounts without calling.
The Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, Massachusetts, is an AAA Four Diamond Award winner whose stellar service and assistance is extended to all guests. If you want to plan a trip to central Massachusetts to experience the beauty of New England, the knowledgeable staff at the Beechwood is always more than happy to assist you. Call us with questions about attractions in the area, specials we’re offering, and events you can include in your trip. We want to help you plan a trip to last a lifetime (or at least until the next time you visit us.)
Join us in the comments section below and let us know the best tips you have to plan a trip on your own. What has worked well for you in the past?