It’s hard to know where to begin when planning a vacation. From booking flights and hotels to picking which activities or tourist attractions you want to see, preparing for a getaway can quickly become overwhelming.
The Narcity travel team shared some of their ultimate tips for travel planning and here’s how we use them to snag cheaper flights, figure out the best times to travel and get the most out of our vacations.
So if you’re ready to start figuring out your next vacay, here are six tips that’ll save you so much time, money and stress.
These tools will help you save money on flights
When it comes to booking flights, it can be tricky to find a good deal. With so many tools at your disposal, it can take quite a bit of time to go through and find which airlines offer the best prices and when you’ll get the best deal.
One tool a few members of the travel team swear by to get cheaper flights is Hopper. The app tells you whether the current flight prices are cheap and whether they’re likely to get cheaper or more expensive so you can make a more informed decision about whether to book now or wait.
Google Flights has also recently introduced a tool which lets you know if the current flight price is higher than usual so you can make the decision on when is best to book.
It can be worth signing up to the mailing lists for various airlines as they’ll often let you know if there are any sales so you can save some cash when it comes to booking.
Travel Editor Morgan Leet said that flying into a different airport and either catching a bus to your destination or renting a car can actually be cheaper than a direct flight, so keep an open mind when you’re booking as there could be some great deals.
Look at shoulder seasons
Growing up, most people usually have to plan their travel around school holidays and summer which usually means you’re going to have to pay more for things like flights and hotels due to demand.
As a Travel Creator, I’ve learned to always research when the quieter times to visit will be so I can beat the crowds.
Looking at these shoulder seasons will likely lead to cheaper flights and hotels as well as it generally being less busy when you arrive at your destination.
Even if it’s a quieter period, remember to research and see if there are any major events going on at your destination at the time you’d like to travel. If there are any huge concerts or sports events going on, hotels could be trickier to come by and super expensive.
Look to see what perks you could get with your credit card
Travel credit cards can be a great way to save money whenever you’re heading on vacation and you might also get some perks along with it too.
Most travel credit cards let you earn points on your purchases that can be used on flights or hotels down the line rather than having to pay outright.
If you’ve been using a credit card with travel rewards, you should always remind yourself of what’s included before you travel too. Some offer lounge access or free checked baggage so you don’t need to worry about paying for those.
You may even be able to use points to help get upgrades on your flight for a more relaxing journey.
Even if you already have a credit card, applying for a travel rewards card could help your travel budget stretch further.
Use social media to get all your travel inspo
Whether you’ve booked a trip or you’re just looking for a little bit of inspiration to get your travel plans under way, social media is the perfect place to gather ideas.
You might already have an idea of some of the bigger tourist attractions you want to visit, but if you’re looking for ideas for stunning restaurants, beautiful beaches and breathtaking hikes, Instagram and TikTok will be your best friends.
According to Associate Travel Editor Madeline Forsyth, using folders on your social media accounts will help you build up a list of places to visit.
“I’ve found so many cute cafes, hikes, and more that way. Then I save all the photos of place I want to visit in a folder on the app so they’re all in one place,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have known about this Arizona hike if it hadn’t been for Instagram.”
Make reservations way in advance
Even if you hate travelling with a strict itinerary, it’s always a good idea to have a loose plan so you can make sure you hit all the spots you want when travelling.
For Leet, that means making restaurant reservations way in advance before you travel so you can avoid getting hangry.
“I make reservations way in advance because theres nothing worse than wandering around looking for food in a new city. Then I plan my activities around that,” she said.
Once you’ve got your restaurant reservations sorted, you can organize your days by visiting tourist attractions or doing activities that are close by.
The same can be applied to major tourist attractions as booking tickets in advance usually means you can avoid waiting in line for hours and wasting precious time exploring.
Save up a little at a time
Saving money is absolutely not my forte and it always comes back to haunt me whenever I travel. I’ve been guilty of just putting all my vacation spending on my credit card and slowly paying it off afterwards.
However, I now try to have some foresight and start putting away money beforehand. I have a KOHO debit card that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, $2, $5 or $10. I has this feature turned on all the time as it helps me save money slowly and it feels like bonus money when I check to see how much is there.
Otherwise, even putting a small amount of your pay check a month aside before you travel can help with those all important travel expenses.
I also try to book activities in advance like heading to museums or big tourist attractions. Not only do a lot of places offer discounts for booking online rather than on the day, it also helps to stretch out the costs a little more.