How do I organise my travels?
Planning the trip is the first step, and usually the most overwhelming. Where do I go, how do I get there, where do I sleep? Those are questions that are not always easy to answer when we’re jumping in the unknown, ready to discover a new place. Here are my tips to make it happen without any unnecessary stress!
The cheaper the better
I always try to spend the less money possible to go from A to B, as much as possible. If I can indulge in some comfort, then that’s awesome, but that’s not my main goal.
I have never flown on anything but economic, and probably never will (unless I get a free upgrade, one can dream!).
This usually plays a big part in determining where to go, how long I’m going for, ect. And also, of course, where my friends live! Hahaha
Traveling the world
If I am planning a trip outside of Europe, chances are I will have to fly out there.
First, I try to search my flights on a bunch of different devices, and NOT connected to any of my google accounts!
I then first check :
99% of the time, I find my flights out of Google Flights, to be honest. But I am the kind of person who always buys her tickets last moment! Flights tickets are basically the last thing on my list. I first check my passeport, apply for any visa needed, and do not book anything until visa has been approved. So i don’t lose money if I don’t get the visa on time! Which is why I always apply for any visa as early as possible. Cause you never know how long it’s gonna take, some destinations can be more complicated than others!
Once this is all checked and good, I go on google flights and Skyscanner, and check for promos and cheap flights.
Another way to save money is to check close-by airports. Sometimes you can save a lot of money by just flying to the next city, and take a train/bus to where you actually want to go!
On my way back from Australia, I was broke and pretty much homeless, and was trying to find the cheapest way to travel from Melbourne to Paris. I ended up flying from Melbourne to London, and take a bus to Paris from there. I saved over 350$ this way!
Another time, I had to go from Melbourne to Brisbane, and booked a flight to the Gold Coast instead, stayed there for the night, and went to Brissie on the next morning’s train. Saved me a lot of money on the tickets!
Once i found the flight I want to get, I go straight on the airlines’s website, and buy it there. 90% of the time it’s cheaper, and you are covered for most issues you can have during your journey. If you buy through a third-party, chances are if the flight is cancelled, you wont’ be refunded, or if anything happens (like a missed connexion) you will be left stranded with only your eyes to cry. The airline isn’t necessarily obligated to do anything, it all depends on the ticket, your options ect, but at least you are more covered most of the time and if you don’t have any extra option they will still try to help as much as they can.
Third party websites are nothing but money thieves. A lot of them are also scams so I strongly recommend to avoid them as much as you can. You can ALWAYS buy the same ticket on the airline’s website.
In Europe, i try to fly as little as possible. I don’t like it, I get very anxious when in a plane, and besides, it’s really not good for the planet.
And in France, flying is not so cheap, compared to, apparently, everyone else in Europe!
One of my best friends lives in Leeds, UK. She can get a return ticket from Leeds to Paris for around 100£ (115€) while me doing the same the other way around is gonna be like 200€ at least. Unless you get your ticket like six months in advance, it can be hard. Going to Italy or Spain can be cheaper, but not during summer, or any important holidays. Either way, i can’t plan anything that far ahead in time, so, flying is out the way for me.
Which is why the first thing i do when planning a trip in Europe is to check… THE BUS. 90% of the time it ends up being the best deal.
Yes, it’s long. No, it’s not very comfy. But who cares ! I went to Amsterdam for 10€! I booked last minutes buses to London for less than 30€. Without these buses, I wouldn’t have been able to travel so much in my life. I am SO grateful.
I do miss Megabus outside the UK though. Once, I almost went to Barcelona for 4€ (had to cancel because life got in the way but seriously I couldn’t be mad about losing 4€ lol. But I just thought, if I can go, I will be lucky to see a new place! And if I can’t, well it’s only 4€!).
To plan trips in a new place, I use mostly Rome2Rio and Google Maps, as well as the app citymapper whenever I can. I try to find out the local bus/train companies and go check prices on their websites to find out which way is the easiest/cheapest way to go where I want to, and go from there.
Here’s some local transportations to help you when you start planning the trip of your life!
Where do I sleep?
Once i have a general idea of the trip, I start looking into accommodations.
My bible, as many travellers I suppose, is Booking.
Same as for flights, when I find a place I want to go to, I check their websites before booking. Sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes not, either way it’s always better to pay straight to the place than through a third party. Then again, I do use booking a lot too !
It’s good to at least have a general idea of the location of the hostel/hotel before you book.
When I am not staying in hostels, I am usually couchsurfing, or just staying at friend’s. One of the pros of traveling a lot is that you make friends from all over the world, and other travellers. It’s always so cool to see each other again in a different part of the world!
Couchsurfing really is awesome. It’s the best way to discover a city through the local’s eyes. The whole point isn’t to just have a place to stay for free for the night, but to actually get interested in the people you meet. Please don’t be one of those inconsiderate people who use couchsurfing like an hotel (we are people. we don’t get paid to have you with us, have some respect!) or worse, the ones who think Couchsurfing is a hook-up website. Be careful before talking to anyone, read their bios (so you know what to tell them when you send the message) and make sure you do have some mutual interests with that person. It’s always better to have like-minded people to stay with!
If you are a solo woman like me, my tips are: stay away from anyone who’s profile says “female only” because they are usually the bad guys looking for preys this way. Talk to people a lot before you accept anything, and try to meet them in a public space before you go to their home. There are now a bunch of other places for women to look for safe places to stay. Join the groups on facebook they will be a great help!
I also am fortunate enough to have lots of friends in different parts of the world, which allows me to surf their couch easily! As well as having people staying in Paris with me for a little while. It’s always nice and meeting friends in another part of the world than where you previously met is always fun!
From planning the trip to living the trip
Once I am actually traveling, i use Google Maps again (seriously though, it’s probably the website I use the most in my life, no joke), couchsurfing, as well as whatever local app I have on hand. Usually once you get there it’s a lot easier to see and know what you want to do!
My best advice though is : don’t over plan. You’ll find yourself losing money or time trying to cancel already booked plans, or you’ll miss out on better things because you stuck on your plans instead of doing things you’d never thought about. And these are the best !
My experience tells me than the less plan you go the more adventurous your trip is gonna be! So don’t plan too much – enjoy more!
Not having my driving license yet, I’ve used public transport A LOT, in a lot of different places! Click here to learn about my Amtrak trip across the USA, and here for more photos of my travels!
How do organise planning your trip? Let me know your tips in the comment!