Behind the scenes of every photo you see on social media, be it hiking the Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii or driving the Great Ocean Road in Australia, are lots and lots of hours spent planning and preparing.
As dull as it may sound, properly sorting out flights, visas, passports, accommodation, vaccinations and travel insurance is a vital step that is either going to make or break your journey.
But, don’t fear the task, planning the next adventure is an experience in itself, and you’ll learn a lot during the process.
Before you pick a destination and start working on a travel itinerary, make sure your travel documents are up to date. Check the expiry date for your passport and make sure your driver’s license is valid if you are planning on renting a car.
It’s impossible to prepare for everything but no matter what kind of a traveller you are or where you are going, there are a few steps you have to take to get there!
It’s time to stop dreaming, it’s time to start planning!
Where should you venture to next? With so many continents to explore and countries to visit and with so many potential adventures, it could be daunting to pick just one place.
Two things that are going to play a big part in the decision-making process is time and budget. After that, start thinking about what kind of holiday you are after. Do you want to relax on the beach or have a full blast adventure? Do you fancy visiting tried and tested destination or are more opened to go off the beaten track?
Usually, before we dive into the depths of the web looking for inspiration, I always check my favourite travel bloggers for ideas because on top of useful tips and hints, they offer first-hand recommendations and reviews.
You can also browse through travel guides in your local library, pick up great holiday ideas from travel magazines and get a healthy dose of inspiration on social media platforms like Instagram.
If you are a flexible and open-minded person who just happened to find a stupidly cheap return flight to a place whose name you can’t pronounce or have no idea where it is, quickly make sure if it is safe to go there and book a flight!
There are a few great websites you can use to find necessary information about places around the world:
- Time Out / Here you’ll find heaps of great information about major cities in Europe, North America, Asia and more. I particularly love this site because of its simplicity and thoughtful neighbourhood guides.
- Fodors Travel Guides / A great site to browse through in search of tips, helpful forums and travel ideas. I’ve recently been loving all the beautiful photos, easy to use layout and informative articles.
- European Best Destination / I love to plan our city breaks and find really unique places I never even knew existed in Europe through their site. Colourful images and simple descriptions will lure you into packing your bags in an instant.
Let’s be blunt here, airfare is expensive, and there’s no magic way to predict prices let alone to find one specific day a week to book a cheap flight to your dream destination (yes, I am looking at you, Tuesday!)
It’s always less expensive to travel during the week, very early in the morning or late at night because who wants to get up at 3am or get home after midnight? If you wish to travel on weekends, at Christmas or during Bank Holiday weekends, be prepared to pay much higher rates.
We are always looking out for the killer deals, and if you plan ahead and travel smart, there’s plenty to choose from. Finding one is just a matter of timing.
Before booking your flight, always consider the overall cost and read the fine print to see if there are additional fees. Know that travelling with luggage could double or even triple the total price of the ticket, depending on an airline.
If you are using budget airlines like Ryanair or EasyJet, check where the airport is as they are notoriously known for being in the middle of nowhere. Booking a cheap flight to Paris-Beauvais only means you have to come up with extra cash and extra time to travel 80+km to Paris city centre and back.
Our tips for scoring a bargain deal:
- Be flexible and experiment with different times and dates
- Sign up for emails and use price alerts to your advantage
- Don’t fly directly and check out flights to nearby airports too
Skyscanner / Sometimes, it can be challenging to choose where to travel, and that’s why we love to use a “fly to everywhere” feature on Skyscanner. Having an option to see a calendar showing the most affordable rates is a great way to plan ahead.
Just so you know, Skyscanner is not a booking site and once you come across the deal you’d like, you’ll be redirected to a different website.
Scotts Cheap Flights / is an email service sending out alerts about error deals and fares. If you are centred in the US, this is another excellent resource for finding great deals. Premium subscribers can take advantage of unbeatable airfare as they are the first ones to get notifications.
Momondo / is a site that compares hundreds of flights. You can also find the latest travel tips, the best budget destinations and road trip ideas. Although we are new to Momondo, we find it to be an excellent airfare search engine.
Secret Flying / is a brilliant tool to use if you are based in Europe. Use their site to find budget flights from Europe to pretty much everywhere around the globe.
Air Trecks / is a very legitimate site that can help you plan a multi-city trip. They offer great deals for around the world deals.
Sleeping in Airports / if you ever happen to find yourself to be stuck in an airport over the night or have a very long layover, there’s a great website that helps you plan your stay more bearable. Many people wish to save money and sleep in an airport by choice; some are forced due to flight disruptions. Either way, check it out!
How many times did you read about the chaos in airports due to cancelled flights, leaving people stranded four endless hours and thought that would never happen to you? What about lost luggage, stolen camera or missing connecting flight?
No matter how healthy or careful you are, even going away for a long weekend, Travel Insurance, sometimes completely overlooked, can come in handy.
Just recently, our flight to the UK was cancelled due to a massive snowstorm in Ireland, leading to a missed trip from London to Essaouira. We had to re-book most of the journey starting with flights and accommodation again, and if it weren’t for the travel insurance, we would end up with a big hole in our pockets.
What we learned right away, collecting claims from travel insurance companies can be challenging, and it takes forever. That’s why we always keep all the tickets, invoices and hotel receipts, this can be a big help backing up your claim.
Choosing the right travel insurance will depend on your age, planned activities, the value of your luggage, medical conditions, if any and more.
We are not gonna suggest specific travel insurance but here are our tips for selecting one:
- If you go away more than once a year, consider an annual policy
- Always, always read the terms and conditions carefully
- Be clear on what’s covered and what’s not
- Check if they have a 24-hour Emergency Help-line
- Don’t forget about the European Health Insurance Card
When it comes to booking accommodation, know what’s really important to you.
Are you willing to spend more money on a big and comfortable bed or you can easily share a dormitory with other likeminded travellers just to have that extra cash for a meaningful travel experience?
We have slept in a tent on numerous occasions, rented entire houses on Airbnb, had fun in not so pretty hostels, stayed on a boat and splurged on swanky mansions.
Over the years, our priorities have changed, but we still use the same search engines for booking accommodation.
Booking.com: The ability to cancel your booking at no extra cost (until a specific date) is one of the reasons why we love to use this search engine while looking for accommodation. On this site, you’ll be able to find a wide variety of properties; hostels and luxury hotels included.
Hostelword: While we’ve heard a couple of horror stories from fellow travellers about staying in hostels, we never actually have one to tell. Spending a night or two in a shared dorm can be fun because hostels have changed a lot and who knows you might even meet your next travel buddy!
On my recent trip to Edinburgh, I liberally choose to stay in a centrally located hostel just so I can meet people. Yes, I did feel a little bit out of my comfort zone but having someone to talk to proved to be invaluable.
Our tips for staying in a hostel:
- Bring earplugs, a pair of flip flops and your own towel
- Keep your expectations low but be a good guest
- Pack your bags the night before if you are leaving early in the morning
- Choose your room wisely and try to get a bottom bed
- Always clean up after yourself and learn to share
Airbnb gives you an option to rent an apartment or even an entire house with a pool anywhere in the world for a very affordable price! How cool is that? Ever since we started travelling with a bay, having an option to make breakfast at 6am to do your own laundry are priceless. Now, before you can book anything, you have to set up a profile and have to go through a verification process.
Our tips for booking with Airbnb:
- Always carefully check the location of your desired property
- Read the small print about check-in times, free parking space, WiFi etc.
- Be aware of extra costs such as Airbnb service charge, cleaning fees and security deposit.
- Browse through amenities and see if there’s a proper stove with kitchen utensils if you plan on cooking a decent meal; otherwise, you could be left with a microwave.
- Check out reviews left by previous guests but don’t get spooked by one single negative comment.
CouchSurfing is actually something we have never tried while roaming around the world yet we’ve heard only good reviews from other travellers. If you fancy staying and engaging with locals as well as hosting in your home, then this is a great option.