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Planning Your Vacations: How To Do It

 As a teacher living on the African continent, I try to take advantage of every vacation my school gives me. I put a lot of thought into planning my vacations, which is why for me I don’t think I would enjoy group trips.  In group trips, activities are less flexible, and if you miss one, you cannot reschedule. 

Planning a vacation to prison island

While this is my personal preference, I know some people would prefer a schedule set by someone else. There are many tour group companies that have dates set months in advance. 

With these groups, you can buy into a trip and pay monthly. Most have a single supplement if you don’t want to share rooms. It is important, however, to note their policies on what happens when enough persons do not sign up.

Planning Flights 

Google flights is an excellent tool to usePlanning you flights when planning your trips. I find it to be a very powerful resource. You can use it to:
  • Track flights to see when it’s the cheapest and best time to travel to your chosen destination.
  • Get data on the price trends for the destination you’ve selected. You can then make an informed decision when buying your ticket.
  • Get suggestions on places to visit in the destination you’ve chosen.
  • Explore the cost to visit cities around your home airport.
Having said that, there is one thing to note, not all airlines allow Google access to their flight data. So that airline will never show up as an option in Google flights. As a result, you should also check the airline and compare it to Google flights. 
I also use sites like Momondo, Priceline, Skyscanner and the other major travel sites. Depending on your initial location, some sites might not cover your airport. So, I always try to book directly with the airlines unless I’m having issues using the airline’s platform.

Separate Tickets

Another tip when planning your vacation is to look for the hubs of the airlines you are interested in. While it won’t be a direct flight, it most times will be cheaper. I have found that on certain routes, direct is always more expensive. You can get flights cheaper by booking two separate round-trip flights, especially when using a hub that tends to have deals to your desired location.  Yes, you might have to sleep at the airport for the night or find somewhere to stay nearby. The saving will sometimes cover this, and you’ll still have change left. look for hotels that offer a free shuttle. However, make sure there is a day or two in between in case of any delays.

Don’t book with a few hours in between for transit!! Some locations even offer stop-over tours and the prices are generally very reasonable (when arranging through the airport or your airline). So you’ve now decided on a flight, what’s next?

Planning your vacation activities 

Air balloon ride Luxor egypt

When you searched for flights, you probably also researched activities you might enjoy. I always start by looking up articles, blogs, and videos on YouTube to see if any pique my interest. You might be wondering why not book the accommodation next! However, for me, I love doing a variety of activities on my holidays.  The activities directly influence where I stay and for how long.

After looking at blogs, articles and videos, I look to Inspirock. This is a website where you can plan and create itineraries. Here I have found some activities that did not come up in the general search on the well-known sites. I found an excellent experience in Zanzibar that never even came up in my Google search.
My next step is to then create a Google Doc for that trip and list all the ideas I found. I list prices and recommendations and also make a calendar with ideas of what to do and when. This helps with making a budget and seeing if I can do everything initially planned.
This also helps with planning for any tests that I would need. We are now travelling during a pandemic until more countries completely open up. With this in mind, it is important to know where the testing sites in your destination are. You do not want to have to drive hours to go back to a city you already visited.
As a result of your research, you may have found and decided on a method of transportation during your stay. Whenever I travel on my own, I choose taxis that come recommended or reviewed by different people.

Planning where to stay

Light Fixture

I use all the major sites to research properties to stay. However, Booking and Expedia are my first choices. I also look at Airbnb as they have some of the same properties listed on the major sites. I discovered an outstanding deal on Airbnb when visiting Tofo in Mozambique. Booking and Expedia had the same property, but with a different cancellation policy. With this in mind, two important tips to consider are:

  • Pay close attention to the cancellation policy when planning your trips.
  • Always look at a majority of the reviews on a variety of websites.
I never book a place if it says no refunds (unless I’m already in the country and need to change accommodations).

Reward Programs

View of ocean from a planeAs mentioned before, when planning where to stay I tend to use Expedia and Booking since I am a part of their reward program.  Booking for example has their Genius program where they offer 10 – 20% discounts on a number of properties. For some of these properties depending on your Genius level (they only have 3 levels) you can also get free room upgrades and free breakfast.  To join this program all you need to do is to sign up.  To move up in levels there is a certain amount of bookings you need to make through their platform.  I especially love their price match guarantee, where if you find the property with the same rates and conditions on a different site, they will refund the difference.  I have benefited from this at least 3 times so far.

With Expedia’s rewards program, you will get a 10% discount on select properties just for signing up. Also, check their mobile and in-app prices as well to see which has the biggest discounts. If you book a flight with them and then add accommodation in the same country, there are also additional discounts. 

Final thoughts
Planning your vacations will take a lot of time! As a result, it is not for everyone. But I enjoy watching how my plans come together at the end.
Now that you’ve gone through all this planning, it’s time to explore your new destination.
I hope you found these tips helpful.
Do you have any tricks that you use when looking to book a vacation?

7 thoughts on “Planning Your Vacations: How To Do It”

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  2. Great article. Hope I remember to re-visit it when making my next travel plans.

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