I receive questions frequently about how I spend my time. The answer is that with as much traveling as we have been doing, I spend a lot of time planning for it! I feel fortunate in that we have had so many opportunities to experience the world in just over a year, and I am certainly looking to make the most out of it.
Planning for a trip can be daunting. The first question is where to go, then where to stay, how to get around and then finally what to see and do!
I have had both good and bad luck in my accommodation choices but I believe I am getting more efficient as time goes on.
How to Pick a Solid Accommodation Choice:
- It took me a little while, but I finally realized the best place to start is on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor is such a rich site and it can be used in so many ways. It ranks up there with Kayak for flights and cars. But most importantly, it ranks categories of various accommodation options by location. And it gets very detailed into particular areas.
Lets assume we are focusing on hotels. Once you begin browsing particular hotels in a location, make sure to check the worst reviews first. Always consider the date of the bad reviews, then sort all reviews by date. It could be that the hotel has improved over time, or on the contrary, it has worsened over time. This is something you want to stay away from.
One thing to keep in the back of your mind on TripAdvisor is the possibility that a hotel has forged lots of positive reviews to boost their ranking. Take a look at who the reviewers are if you start to get a sense of this. For example, for our trip to Sri Lanka next week, if I saw many positive reviews from members in Sri Lanka and they only have 1 review or reviews only in Sri Lanka, this was a warning sign for me that the hotel could have been creating fake accounts in order to boost their ratings.
On TripAdvisor, you start to familiarize yourself with prices for different neighborhoods of a city as well. It’s always a good idea to build a foundation when you begin research. As you can see, it creates various categories and many search options.
Once you select dates, it provides options as to various prices on various booking sites (Booking.com, Agoda, etc.)
2. The next step in my search is to check out boutique travel sites that frequently offer deals. I love Jetsetter because they also offer deals on trip packages. If you keep an eye on their weekly deals, it could be a great way to plan a cool vacation! Furthermore, they have editor reviews of hotels including both negatives and positives, so it gives you a better sense of the accommodation. Another great site is Tablet. Tablet also has a wonderful magazine to get the juices flowing.
With both of these options, you know the reviews are “real”, as they only allow people who have booked the hotel on their website to review.
Since you already have an idea of pricing in the location, checking out Tablet and Jetsetter sales can be a good way to get a great deal on a nicer hotel for the target price range as you could theoretically find on TripAdvisor.
3. Once you have zeroed in on a hotel, check out the hotel’s website! It could be that the hotel is offering special deals when booking directly through them. I found a nice hotel in the Netherlands, and after checking out their website, I found they offer breakfast and a chef’s tasting dinner included for the same price as just the room on Booking.com!
I continue to come up with more tricks every time I plan a trip, so it’s always a learning game! Good Luck and Happy Travels!