Lately I’ve been amazed on more than one occasion how young people, even my age, find themselves very awkward to organize a trip online.
I go to the agency that if not I wonder what I’m doing!
You can’t imagine how many people arrive on my blog looking on Google for the shortest way from New York to Boston or as I arrive from Big Ben to Notting Hill on foot.
Do you understand? There’s no basis for it, not even Google Maps.
Online there are a lot of blogs that collect low cost offers or that talk about how to live a destination with minimal expense, but already it’s an “advanced” level for those who just start from scratch.
So I thought of writing a schematic post to help the willing who want to venture into the online organization of a low-cost trip but do not know where to start. Let’s start from ABC, I write you a minimum guide, only the basic resources that I use when I start to plan a trip.
It takes some time, but do you want to put satisfaction and savings?
How to book your flight
1. First of all, which airports are closest to you?
Consider all those that are within a 2 hour drive of your home. These are the capable ones, especially the somewhat smaller airports that are generally those from which low-cost flights depart.
2. Now look for the route you are interested in on a flight aggregator.
You have to understand which airlines are serving your destination: I usually look on Skyscanner because it does not force you to choose a departure city, you can also put Italy.
Try different dates and combinations, especially if you don’t have a fixed destination but just want to do a few days around Europe.
On Skyscanner as a destination you can also put anywhere. Me if I want to leave but I don’t know where I put “from Italy to Everywhere”.
3. So go to the sites of the chosen airlines.
Once you have identified the 3-4 most convenient airlines go to the sites of the individual companies and do the same search.
Compare prices and choose the cheapest: sometimes booking on aggregators costs more because they retain a percentage, sometimes it is really cheaper because you find specific offers from the aggregator. You compare from time to time.
How to find and choose a hotel
1. Hotel search.
I use practically only Booking because it gives the possibility in almost all hotels to cancel the booking up to 24 before completely free of charge. I
In this way you can book hotels even if you are not 100% sure to leave.
Or you can book multiple rooms at the same time to keep them locked and have time to calmly choose the best, just cancel the others, for free.
Search on Booking for your destination, look at where your hotel is on the map and choose the best 3-4 hotels after reading the ratings of those who have been before you. It is essential that near your choices there are metro or bus stops.
Hostels are the cheapest solution and are also a nice opportunity to meet other travelers.
2. Check reviews and prices.
Once you have found a short list of hotels cross-check TripAdvisor (for reviews) and the individual hotel sites (for prices): the same as above, sometimes you save on Booking, other times by booking directly on the hotel sites. While with planes it is more likely to find the best prices on the sites of individual companies, for hotels I find it almost always cheaper to book with Booking.
3. Alternatively you can try the last minute
If you love the risk you can book in the day with Blink Booking (at this link you will find a post where I talked about it that explains well how it works): from 11 in the morning you will find offers for the day really discounted. It is very convenient, but not in all trips you can afford to book the last second. And then you need a smartphone because there is only the app.
4. Or cheaper hospitality solutions.
If you are more adventurous there are services such as Couchsurfing or Airbnb.
Couchsurfing is just a travel style: you choose to be hosted by locals who decide to provide a free bed or sofa for passing guests. It is generally chosen by those traveling alone or by those who want to know from within a culture or a city.
Airbnb instead is a real marketplace of houses / apartments / rooms for rent: you can choose the house in which to be hosted and book it, of course for a fee.
I recommend a very useful post on Viaggiaredasoli.net that explains the differences between these two services.
What to do and see
1. Buy a Lonely Planet from the place you’re going.
But what, are you a blogger and do not advise us to search the net? You have to go with order.
My advice is first of all to buy a Lonely (forget about the other guides, I tried them all, the Lonely is the best, and did not give me even one euro to say, in fact I left him a lot ‘).
Read it from top to bottom well before you leave, study your destination.
Plan your route based on the most interesting things to see and do.
For hotels/locations/restaurants/shopping, forget about driving. For hotels see above, for restaurants ask passers-by or check on Tripadvisor (I always do that).
2. And now look in the blogs!
Look for information on what you have selected from Lonely by integrating your program.
If you have time, also browse forums like Cisonostat: I know that they are a bit ‘vintage forums, but there is a lot of up to date information and many travelers who can advise you if you are undecided about something.
I tell you to read Lonely first because the web is too dispersive, on the internet you can find everything and nothing.
For the initial skimming I rely on Lonely.
3. Buy as many tickets as possible online for the things you want to see.
Museums, shows or attractions: you save money and queue.
For example, at the Alhambra in Granada you often run the risk of not finding a seat without tickets booked online in advance.
I use Lastminute.com for London musicals on which I found really convenient offers for the most famous musicals (like Mamma Mia! last year). It’s called last minute but you can also book in advance, I usually book a month earlier.
4. Plan your itinerary well if you intend to move.
If you want to move and you need an itinerary the tools are 3:
Google Maps (which gives you the distance and shows you which cities are well connected and which are not),
blogs (there are many posts dedicated to the itineraries),
the old and dear Lonely (both because it has the recommended itineraries and because it indicates the most beautiful cities to connect in your itinerary).
Where to eat
1. Ask passers-by or Tripadvisor.
If I do not know the place or ask the passers-by or I rely on the Tripadvisor app that is very convenient because it tells you the restaurants closest to you and also gives you the price ranges (passers-by do not, however, as quality usually take us).
2. Use apps for offers.
Find out if there are any portals that aggregate the offers of restaurants in the country of destination of your trip.
For example, in France there is LaFourchette that has great offers, I tried it and it works very well.
In Italy there are several, I know EasyDinner that works well.
Finished! Here is the minimum guide for the online organization of a low cost trip.
I hope it will serve the less practical.
If you need more detailed information please write me (comment, email, Twitter, pigeon traveler …).
If you’re satisfied with this post, have a good trip!