Travel Tips

My Go-To Tools for Planning a Travel Adventure

I don’t know at what stage things changed, but these days booking a holiday isn’t just deciding where to go and getting the cheapest flights.

It’s a military mission.

Gone are the days where we’d book a week in Croatia and just see what happened. Now, we have a complete logistical nightmare trying to map every minute of every day to get the most out of our time away.

The decision to go to Disneyland turned into two weeks in Florida, a mini 3-night road trip, and two more day trips out of town.

A trip to Vegas became a 4-day roadtrip to LA, a visit to Disneyland and ticking the bucketlist for three different states.

My dad getting married in Germany – where he lives – fast became an 8-day Scandinavian adventure by train via three different cities. (Did I mention this was the same year we did Florida…and Iceland.)

I’m exhausting myself just thinking about it all.

Somehow, along the way, we’ve managed to work out how to make the most of our holiday days, and that largely comes down to the tools we use. Without further ado, here are my go-to planning tools.

Expedia

Number one on my list has got to be Expedia. I don’t know where I’d be without this bad boy. No matter what stage of the planning we’re at, Expedia is my first go-to.

Looking for destination ideas? Expedia.

Looking for a great bundle deal on flights and hotels? Expedia.

Booked your trip and now looking for local activities? Expedia.

Decided you want to hire a car? You guessed it – Expedia.

FYI – this is in no way an affiliation. I’m not being paid nor do I gain anything from this recommendation – this is simply my opinion.

Why is Expedia so great? you might ask…

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t use Expedia for everything but it is an invaluable research tool. It’s a great place to compare prices, see everything in one place and we’ll then often research elsewhere to compare (like Booking.com, AirBnB, LastMinute.com, TravelUp etc.), using Expedia as our benchmark.

Often we do go back and book anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to have a look around elsewhere.

However, the most valuable reason why we often use Expedia is their activities, especially if you’re traveling to somewhere with a different currency (if you’re in the UK, this generally means going anywhere).

For our American trips this is definitely the most valuable tool. We can book in our local currency and have the etickets delivered direct to my phone. (They’re often cheaper, too. For example, when we were in Vegas we booked to go up the Eiffel Tower at Paris through the app the day before, paid in GBP and probably saved a third off the standard ticket price – that’s a win-win.)

Kayak

We all have our preferred flight app. I know a lot of people are a big fan of Skyscanner. Some prefer Momondo. Personally, I love Kayak – always have and probably always will.

For me it’s by the far the easiest to use. And has just simply gotten better over time with predicted price trends that tell you when to book and a flexible calendar that helps you get the best deal.

Uber

Surprised by this one? It’s only within the last year or so have I realised the true power of Uber. I’m more of a walker than a taxi-goer personally but there are other benefits of having this app to hand when it comes to planning a trip.

Whether we’re planning a staycation or going abroad, I often use Uber to work out just how far away things are. Sure, I’m unlikely to actually order a cab but it’s a good way to get to know the local area, figure out the cost of getting back if somthing went wrong, or simply seeing what reception is like in the area.

Sounds weird, I know. But I promise, hands-down, that I’ve used the Uber app to help plan at least the last three trips we’ve been on.

Instagram

I’d be a liar if I said I never got inspiration from Instagram. Of course, I have my go-to accounts that keep me inspired but it’s also an amazing tool for generating ideas.

Next time you book a trip somewhere, try searching the local hashtag or location and see what posts you find. I challenge you to spend 5 minutes browsing and I’m sure you’ll find loads of interesting activities.

The beauty of this method is you’ll often find things off the beaten track – our favourite type of activity. Sure, we can all visit the Shard in London but not all of us know the Sky Garden is just over the river and has amazing views of the Shard and the London skyline. (And it’s free!) #thankyouInstagram

Google

Good old Google. Where would we be without it?

You won’t be surprised to learn that Google is the next tool on my planning list. We spend hours typing in various questions, browsing different articles and researching the best things to do for the best price.

Many people will stick to the same routine when it comes to booking and planning a trip, but I find that our secret is to remain flexible. Sure we use the same tools and apps as a starting point, but we’re always willing to try new providers if that means we save £££.

The number of times we’ve found a great deal on Expedia only to then decide we’re going to book through eBookers or Booking.com because they give us a better deal – all thanks to the power of Google.

Friends/fam

You can never underestimate word of mouth. That’s why you read blogs like this in the first place, right?

If you know someone who’s been there, done that, they can give you the low down on what’s worth it and what’s not. This is probably the most valuable tool on the planet; it allows you to connect with someone over a common interest, save you money and guarantee a great time – what’s not to love?

Once we’ve decided to go somewhere, one of the first things we do is sniff out which friends and family have already been. Sometimes, it might even be the personal recommendations of people we know that influence the trip in the first place.


So there you have it. My go-to tools for planning a trip; some a little more unconventional than others. I’ll come back and update this list from time to time as I discover new tools and new ways of doing things, bur for now, I hope it helps!

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