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My trip is coming closer and closer and I can’t wait to board that plane 🙂 There is still some travel planning to be done, but most of the flights, cars and hotels for this Christmas are booked, most presents are bought, and I am starting to relax and have time to share some of my tips & tricks 🙂 In part I of my favorite websites for travel planning I wrote about booking flights, trains, and cars. Now, on to hotels, travel insurance, and some general stuff:

  • Hotels

Many times we stay with family or friends, so we don’t always need hotels. If we do, I usually look on hotels.com to get some estimates and check specific locations in the city we go to. Booking.com is great too! Then I check TripAdvisor for reviews of the hotels. If we are flexible with location, I sometimes check TripAdvisor first to see if there are any particularly good hotels that are within our price range. Don’t trust the estimated prices there though… a lot of times it’s much cheaper on the hotel website itself or some other travel website. By the way, if I find a good hotel on a travel website, I usually check the hotel website to see if they match the price or get close to it. Booking on the hotel website usually gives you more flexibility if you ever need to cancel the reservation. I’ve tried Hotwire before with mixed results. You can get really good hotels for cheap if you’re willing to go with the anonymous option. However, sometimes you end up where you really didn’t wanna be.

  • Travel Insurance

I never used to buy travel insurance and just hoped for the best. With many of our flights being so interconnected (you miss one, you miss the next, etc.), I started thinking about insurance more and more. Unfortunately they can be pretty expensive. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurances for free if the ticket is bought through them though. So check with your credit card company if they do. It could save you a lot of money. And it could actually make sense just to get a credit card for that purpose since the yearly fees are often under $100. That’s the price for insurance for one international flight in many cases. But check with the credit card company first since some don’t include the travel insurances automatically.

  • General

I use Google Maps and/or Mapquest a lot when I’m trying to find out how far some places are from each other within one city, how long it would take to drive from one city to the next, etc. I usually print these things out in case my GPS stops working on the road. If we are going to new places, I always check TripAdvisor for suggestions on things to do and I usually buy a guidebook as well. My favorites are from DK Eyewitness Travel. Nine times out of ten I buy them from sites like half.com and stock up with two or three novels for the long flights from the same vendor (you save on shipping that way) at the same time. So much cheaper than stocking up in a bookstore at the airport! Marco once pointed out to me how much money I spend on books in airports and it was kind of eye-opening. Just be sure you order early if you go with the online option. Some of the media mail stuff takes forever.

If you have any other good travel planning tips, please share them in the comments! I’m always looking for good ideas on how to do something cheaper and/or better 🙂

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