One of the key aspects of traveling on a budget is figuring out how and what to research for your next vacation. So if you want to travel for less. Then you need to learn how to research before your vacation. This will make sure you keep within a realistic budget, stay in the best places for less and find the best deals on flights research and planning are key!
Start pinning everything you read
Sign up for a Pinterest account. Pinterest is a total game-changer and although it may take a bit to get your head around it, once you do it can be every traveler’s best friend.
- Step 1. Once you have signed up create a board using your trips name or the destination ie Peru. Make sure you have downloaded/ added the Pinterest widget to your search engine for easy pinning.
- Step 2 Start Googling!
- Step 3 When you find something you like and is informative/ useful for your trip simply find an image and hover your cursor over the image and a little pin simple will show up. Click on it and then click on the board you want to add it to. After a while of doing this Pinterest will start suggesting things to you. You can also search Pinterest for articles and subscribe to other boards.
I started using this as a research tool for 2 reasons;
- Sometimes I found something I didn’t have time to read so I saved it for later.
- When I found something useful I could save it so I could find it when I was away and needed it.
Doing this made traveling Thailand so much easier as everything I needed was on the board!
So what do you actually need to research I hear you ask!
Well, there is no definitive answer to this as everyone is different. But as a starting point here is my normal process:
1. Where to stay
I simply google ‘where to stay in XXX’ or ‘best places to stay in XXX’ anything you read that you like to add to your pinboard. Once I know where I want to stay I will book my accommodation (see the previous post).
2. How to get there
If you need a flight, check out my post on getting cheap flights using Skyscanner. Or if you plan on traveling overland and need public transport the best way to find out the best information is through travel blogs or travel forums. Simply google ‘best way to travel from X to Y’ or ‘getting from X to Y’ and go from there. Make notes and be sure to pin anything useful.
3. Getting to your accommodation
Again I always rely on my fellow travel bloggers for this! Especially if you want to make sure you choose the cheapest option. Check out the airport’s website if you are flying and read their traveling to/ from information. They also look at your hotel information. That should give you some ideas and start places, then pick out some keywords from your research and try to find some information that travel bloggers have written.
I always try to get the following:
- Public transport options (including cost)
- Airport Transfer cost
- Private Taxi cost (including any airport fees)
- Uber cost
- Hire car cost (if you don’t mind driving)
I always make notes on all of them and keep them on me even if I have pre-booked an airport transfer. That way you are well prepared if anything happens. Always make sure you have a printed map of where your accommodation is and a phone number. If you are traveling by public transport use the information on the accommodation website telling you how to find them. I’d also always check if they do free transfers as many places do offer this.
4. What to see and do
My next port of call is normally to search something like ‘Top 10 things to do in X’ or ‘Must see X’ then I start skimming through various articles and blogs. And I like I save into my Pinboard and make rough notes in my travel planner along with things to keep in mind about visiting that place/ attraction, cost, when to visit and how to get there. The best place to search things to do is on Pinterest itself. Start searching for the country or place and then click on the pictures you like and save time, then go back later and read the articles. Don’t forget to also search for food and drink and good places to go so you don’t miss any amazing gastronomical experiences!
5. What to Pack
Once you know where you are going, how you are getting there, where you are staying and what you would like to do when you get there you need to know what to pack! Once again this is an area of travel blogger expertise. There is nothing we love more than helping fellow travelers out by sharing our ‘Packing Tips and Tricks for X’ and ‘What to Wear in Y’ so be sure to search for this advice and use it. Again if you find something you like then pin it. And use my handy packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
6. Do’s and Don’ts
My last search is always about the do’s and don’ts in that particular country and culture. I always include a quick scan of local news and current affairs so I’m aware of anything that could impact my trip. Being aware of local customs and cultural norms just help you to make sure you are a culturally responsible traveler. If you want to know my thoughts on this take a look at this post I wrote on it here.
Personally, I’ve found it makes my trip that much smoother to know I shouldn’t be running around touching Monks in Thailand or upsetting my waiter in America by not tipping etc. Make a mental note of these things, pin them, jot them down in your travel planner and avoid any embarrassing situations.
You can read my post on cultural sensitivity here.
I really hope that this post has helped you understand how to research before your vacation and most importantly save you money on your next trip! Have a great time wherever you go and don’t forget to leave me a comment below to let me know where you are going!
Here are my other planning guides
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.