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Using technical tools for vacation planning

If you're reading this, I suspect you're ready for a vacation, but you do not want to pay a travel agent, you're not sure where to start, and / or you're not home improvement, ready to do anything Use elbow lubricant for more control over costs and travel structures. Travel planning can actually be one of the more fulfilling aspects of a vacation, as the anticipation is often exciting before your getaway. Here are some great resources for travel deals, activity guides, locations, and how to put it all together.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 28, 201

7 and has been extended with additional tools. Apps and a special video.

Setting Budget and Time Limitations

The natural first step in planning a trip is figuring out where to go. Some people already have one goal in mind, others are more flexible depending on when they can take their time off or how much money they spend comfortably. My personal rule of thumb is that if you have paid for your free time, a holiday should cost about the same as a paycheck. In this way, you have the opportunity to spend a weekend or a longer holiday on a small budget.

However, if you consider family members, you can use a tool on BeFrugal.com to gauge whether it is better to fly or fly somewhere. Costs such as gasoline and tolls or taxis to and from the airport can be taken into account to weigh the pros and cons. Obviously, getting to and from a place is not the only cost factor (think of hotels, activities, groceries and possible gifts you can take home). So plan in advance.

Where do you find flight offers

? If you're flexible, it's best to find out by exploring flight tickets on sites like Kayak or Skyscanner. My personal favorite is searching for Google Flights travel destinations. You can narrow down the search results from your home airport to travel time, season, and / or continent, and display a cost-of-arrival card. You can even specify goals according to interests, eg. "Beaches", "ecotourism" or "honeymoon" to get some popular recommendations. From there, you can further narrow down the results by setting a maximum price limit or choosing non-stop flights only.

If you need even more ideas, sites like Booking.com's Destination Finder can also help you figure out where to go for your interests. Once you know where you are going, you can use Kayak's and Hopper's tools to see if a fare is good value.

If you are extremely flexible in terms of time and location, but not so much money, this is the best bet to follow flight deal sites and newsletters. There are countless websites like Airfarewatchdog or The Flight Deal, but one of the most sought after services on the internet is Scott's Cheap Flights. You can sign up for a free newsletter or get a paid subscription for insider notifications at incredibly low rates. You may end up with a so-called misguided fare – a ticket that was sold at a wrong price due to a technical or human error. So, if you find these rare tickets, you should get a confirmed ticket before booking an accommodation.

It's important to know that the flight is not the only thing you need to consider in your overall budget. A flight to Thailand could be the most expensive, but it will even be the same when you arrive, as the cost of living is lower there. (The opposite may apply when traveling to Iceland.) Therefore, you should weigh them carefully before you reach your destination. Remember to think about visa entry requirements, depending on the country in which you are a citizen.

Book your flights

Now that you have decided where you are going, it's time to book. If you have followed the above recommendations, hopefully you should get a pretty decent deal for your flight.

There is really no right way to do this. You may want to book directly through an airline's website to make sure you choose seats (provided the basic economy rules do not apply) or if you want to use the miles collected to pay. You can also book through aggregators like Orbitz and Expedia to earn points, or use points from your credit card for the booking. The general recommendation is to book directly directly with the airline, and you will have more influence if flight cancellations or other irregularities occur, so you do not have to contact a third party to make a rebooking. Depending on your credit card, you may also have good travel policies. Check with your local bank for your choice before making the final decision on where to book.

Book your stay

It can be very overwhelming to choose your place to stay, especially if you are traveling there for the first time and do not know anyone who can advise you personally. Travel guides on sites like Airbnb and Foursquare help travelers learn about neighborhoods and businesses in the area. It's also helpful to check out the city forums on TripAdvisor forums to find out what locals / other travelers recommend. I recommend this hotel for hotel guests who prefer room service or housekeeping. If you prefer to stay somewhere with a local flare, Airbnb or HomeAway may be better options for you.

If you know where you want to stay, please indicate the needs, eg. Fi or late check-ins to ensure you find the right options. When booking on websites such as rental housing websites, carefully read the description to determine if there is a cleaning fee or extra person charge. For some hosts, different amounts will be charged, which means that a $ 89 / night room for three days will cost less than a $ 59 / night room plus a $ 150 cleaning fee at no extra cost.

If you're traveling on a budget, websites like HostelBookers, HostelWorld, or CouchSurfing are alternative ways to find a cheap place to stay (or in some cases, for free). Do not be dissuaded from the word "hostel". Some places offer amenities such as swimming pools, games rooms and rooftop bars, making them indistinguishable from most hotels.

Things to Do

I like my resources when completing the itinerary. In general, I start with the TripAdvisor forums and the published guides from Lonely Planet, Fodor's, and The of the New York Times 'travel section. Atlas Obscura also offers local attractions and unique things to try.

Other places to be inspired include browsing YouTube for travel blogs or browsing an Instagram location tag for a specific city. If there is an activity you would like to do (eg paragliding, brewery tours or supperclubs), make sure that there is an active subreddit of a city you visit to check on the locals. You can also use it to search for upcoming events or even to try meetings.

If you travel internationally, remember that sites you are used to visiting restaurants and shops in the United States are rarely used elsewhere. For example, when I traveled to Japan, Yelp was rarely used; The community has its own version called Tabelog for restaurant ratings and photos. In Croatia it was easier to find restaurants on Google Maps or even on Facebook.

Useful Apps

The rule of thumb for apps is that you want to maximize the offline use of these apps if you are in a remote, unused area, or do not want to forgo an international SIM card / roaming plan , Before you start, here are some useful apps that you can keep in a travel folder.

If you're traveling to a foreign country, Google Translate is a must. Ideally, you should pre-download the language you want to use offline. The same applies to Google Maps. You can select an area that you want to save and navigate without an Internet connection.

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You can opt to buy a local SIM card You have an unlocked phone, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber have it for you made it easy to call abroad for free. Just remember to add your contacts before leaving and hope your hotel's Wi-Fi is strong enough to allow a quick chat.

When you're ready to put it all together, apps like Google Trips can collect all of your travel information in one place, including train tickets, maps, and booking confirmation numbers.

Many cities around the world offer local apps for driving or taxi-hailing. So it's worth checking to see if you're ready to download in advance. If you have this tied to your credit card, you will not have to cash when you leave the airport. If you want to have some cash at hand, you are more likely to get a better exchange rate from your local bank than at airports.

Many credit card companies, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express offer apps To find local ATMs, prepare a mobile wallet, or convert currencies. Be sure to notify your banks if you want to use the cards abroad, so you will not be unexpectedly locked.

These apps are, in my opinion, the bare minimum you should have before starting, but for certain interests like food BonAppetour has a great list for a variety of needs.

Put your OOO!

Personally, this is one of the most satisfying things you can do. Disable online accessibility and just enjoy it. You deserve it!

When you're home, contact Google Timeline to relive the journey.

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