Lesson 2: Bookings
In the previous lesson, we talked about factors to consider when choosing your destination. In this lesson, we will help you narrow down those destinations by factoring in the costs of your trip. This will allow you to budget your trip accordingly and choose the destination that fits within your budget. Let us begin with booking our trip.
In this lesson, you will want to use these resources:
- Continue to use the Before Traveling To Do List.
- Travel Budget – Click to Download: Use this for each of your destinations that you want to visit. This will allow you to set your budget, input any expenses, and see how they compare.
Using your narrowed down list of destinations, it is time to begin to see how much one of your major expenses is going to cost you. Begin here with Skyscanner. Enter the location you will be departing from, your destination, your departure and return date, and how many passengers you will be traveling with.
We use Skyscanner because it tends to provide us with the best fares when it comes to choosing your flight. There are several other resources available to you as well. We would also recommend using Kayak, or you can search the airline’s website that you want to travel with.
Make sure you are looking at whether the flight is direct, and, if not, how many layovers do you have and for how long. This is important information to not skip over. You will not want to choose a flight that has a lengthy layover. The worst part about traveling is waiting to finally arrive at your destination. If you have to travel a full day to get there, you will be miserable and exhausted. Pay the extra money to get a direct flight or with as few stops as possible.
You should book your flight at least three months in advance to get the best price possible. Book the flight just after mid-day on Tuesday. This tends to be the time of the week when rates are at the cheapest. Also, leaving in the middle of the week is less expensive compared to leaving on a Friday or a Sunday. Saturdays can also be an inexpensive day to depart. Register for email alerts on prices and watch the trends throughout the week to get the best price possible. Additionally, if you are flexible on your leaving date and destination you can sign up for email newsletters or follow the social media accounts of a website or an airline that you want to fly and watch for a discounted price for tickets.
Sign up for airline points when you are booking your ticket. Those points will add up, and eventually you will earn enough to redeem them on something. Especially if you are a frequent flyer with a certain airline, you need to have their airline point card. If you have difficulty keeping track of all your points, want to transfer, or redeem your points, then join Points.com.
Add this expense to your Travel Budget for each destination you have chosen as options, and let us continue on to the next biggest expense.
Booking a Hotel
Now that you have the flight pricing information for each of your destinations, you will want to make sure that there are hotels available during the dates you will travel there. It is important to not book your flight before looking at hotels, especially if you are traveling during the holiday season. There has been a time for us when we unexpectedly landed in Japan during our a busy season of travel. We tried to find ourselves a hotel for the night, but everything was completely booked. Do not let this same thing happen to you after you book your flight. Make sure the accommodation you want is available.
For booking a hotel, we find that Hotels.com is the best resource for us. The website finds great deals for us, it is extremely reliable, and it offers a reward system that is good if you plan to book through it consistently. Use their advanced search to find accommodation within your budget and within the proximity of where you will want to stay.
Much like booking your flight ticket, you can register for the email newsletter of Hotels.com or follow their social media accounts to be on the look out for discount codes. This will help bring your hotel expense down.
Nowadays, there are so many great resources to find inexpensive alternatives for accommodation. Couchsurfing allows you to stay in someone’s place for a certain period of time, while they are living there as well. It has really grown into a strong community of travelers. When joining this community, you should also be willing to share your residence for fellow travelers as well. This is what this community is all about.
AirBnB is another excellent resource to find accommodation. It allows you to rent out places when people are on holidays, out of their house, or just have extra space to rent. It is great for travelers because it offers great and inexpensive accommodation in any location. We have used this website a couple of times to save us a lot of money, and the places we have stayed at were amazing!
If you want to get an idea of accommodation cost, I would suggest to start searching Hotels.com to get an idea of what the accommodation will cost you in each of your destinations on your list. Look at different places you would be willing to stay, and keep them in mind for when you decide to book. Watch the prices throughout a week and see how they fluctuate. This will help you choose the correct time to book your hotel and save you money. In addition to this, watch for deals and subscribe to the mailing list of the websites to get emailed coupon codes or deals that they only send subscribers.
Note the prices for each of your destination options, and add it to the Travel Budget.
Not every place in the world has amazing public transportation. Do not always plan to rely on this. There is no way to beat the freedom of having your own rented car. You may need an international drivers permit in some locations depending on where you come from, but renting a car is the best way to go.
When we book a rental car, we usually book through Enterprise to get a quote on a small vehicle to save money. Depending on the country you are traveling to, this can range from a minimal part of your daily budget to a more expensive item to add to your expense list.
If you do not plan to rent a car, you can potentially save a lot of money. For example, in some countries in Asia the public transportation system is extremely efficient. You can easily decide to not rent a car and spend $10 USD per day to get yourself around. However, in North America you will be spending $10 USD on a cab ride around the corner.
Choose an appropriate amount for your transportation costs and add it to the Travel Budget.
Food and Entertainment
Again, this will depend on where you are traveling in the world and what you want to do. My rule is to budget at least $25 USD per day for food. If you already know of a big expense for your entertainment, such as going on a safari or a tour, it is important that you research to give yourself an idea of how much it will cost you. If you are unsure about this, you can add another $25 USD per day for entertainment.
Your food and entertainment cost will depend entirely on how long you are staying and what you consider doing during your trip. Choose an appropriate amount to budget for your food and entertainment costs and add it to the Travel Budget.
Are you considering whether or not to get insurance? Let us help you with that decision. Get it. Do not think that nothing will happen to me, so I do not need to get it. Anything can happen, at anytime, anywhere. It is as simple as that. If you do not believe me, I use to be just like that.
I did not get travel insurance for my health, I went to Hawaii, and my ears never popped on the descent in the airplane. I went a full day of driving around and exploring the island with pressure building in my ear, but not really thinking much about it. Finally, at night time when I laid my head down to try to catch some sleep, I felt a pop and liquid filling my ear. That liquid turned out to be blood and the pain that ensued was some of the worst I had ever felt in my entire life. In the next hour, I had an ambulance called for me (which was not necessary) and an emergency visit to the hospital that would later cost me over $2000 USD for the doctor to say that there is nothing to do, but it was good to come in just in case something worse was happening.
I had to endure the rest of my trip with the pain in my ear and my wallet. Never again. Get travel insurance! It is so inexpensive that in some cases I would not even bother adding it to your budget.
Visit Atlas Travel Medical Insurance to get a quote.
Add the cost of your insurance to your Travel Budget.
Airline Points and Credit Cards
Before booking your trip, it would be beneficial to you to research any airline point cards you can register for free of charge to accumulate points. In addition, no-fee credit cards also allow you to accumulate points. For example, I have a no-fee credit card with my bank that accumulates Air Miles Reward Points. This is helpful when I find myself using my credit card often to book my trips.
If you are a frequent traveler, make sure you research credit cards with your bank and see which credit card would work best for you. Usually there are sign up bonuses as well! Even if there are annual fees, you can find yourself accumulating points faster and saving much more if you use your card often.
Now that you have an estimate on how much each destination is going to cost you, you can begin to decide whether or not each one is feasible or if it should be saved for another time. And if you are still undecided after this lesson, that is okay! We are going to help you make that decision in the next lesson with some research on your destination.
If you are ready to make your decision, I would suggest you still hold off booking until we do a little more research on that destination. It never hurts to have more information before you make those bookings, so just bare with us for a little longer.
- Before Traveling To-do List – Click to Download
- Travel Budget – Click to Download
- Cheap flights tickets
- How to Plan a Trip
- Do I Need Travel Insurance?
- Budget Your Trip
Booking a Flight
Atlas Travel Medical Insurance