Planning a trip can be a very daunting task, whether it is a long backpacking journey, or a short week-long holiday! Today there is enough information and online booking systems available that you are very capable of doing it yourself! I’ll help you with how to book your next trip, without an agent!
I have used travel agents before, but if you are a budget backpacker like me, the agent fee is almost always not worth it! I had a credit card in Australia that gave me about $500 worth of travel credit through a well-known Australian travel agent. For international flights, the fee on top of their already expensive flights was an extra $40 AUD per person, per flight! Also, the travel agent stuffed up our booking, booking a flight for one passenger when there were two of us. We had to book another ticket for me, but the cheaper price had been sold, and even though they accepted it was their fault, they would not reimburse us this extra cost. For these reasons, and as I know I could probably get most things cheaper than they can offer me, I book everything by myself.
However, you can be a little sneaky and still visit travel agents and ask for their tips and advice about where to go, but not book through them… a little sneaky I know, but it is an option!
Seek tips from travel bloggers
Seek out info from the travel experts to help you book your next trip! My first step is always looking at other travel blogs to get some inspiration of where to go, what to do, where to stay and when to go there. Some of my favourite bloggers are: Goats on the Road, Along Dusty Roads and Salt in Our Hair. Along Dusty Roads is superb for travelling South America!
Other than travel blogs, I like to wing it and figure out a lot for myself. For most of this backpacking trip I have just made my way to somewhere I heard was nice, and went from there. You can find a lot out about a place by turning up to hostels and meeting new people and asking them where they have been and what they recommend. Often you will end up doing things with these people you would have never thought to have done yourself!
Book things online
I also have my favourite online booking tools, which I talk about below. Use these to help you book your next trip:
I’m sure you would have heard about Skyscanner before! If not, you are now! This baby takes hundreds of airlines and flight providers in one spot, allowing you to get the best price for the same or similar flight. I use this website for pretty much every single flight I book. Call me paranoid, but I like to always open sites like this in an ‘incognito window’ in case the website tracks your search history. Too often I search for a flight, and then 5 minutes later that same flight is $20 more expensive!
This website is awesome! It finds crazy travel and flight deals, and ‘error fares’ where airlines have made a mistake in the pricing, and puts them on their website for all to see, without charging you anything! This website is especially good if you are flexible with when you travel, as the error fares will only remain that price until the airline figures it out, and will only be for specific dates. You should follow Secret Flying on Facebook so new notifications will pop up in your feed. They want nothing from you, they just want you to see all of the deals! All you need to book your next trip is a bit of spontaneity and a super flexible workplace who can give you time off at sometimes very last minute dates! :p
Booking.com is just simply one of those websites that almost always seem to have the best deals or biggest variety in hotels on offer. In Sri Lanka, most hotel owners I met solely used Booking.com to list their property. If I have had an issue with a hotel or a booking, Booking.com has always been super prompt in rectifying the situation.
I use Hostelworld whenever I am booking a hostel. I have used this website around the world and always found it really easy to use. They are also a sister company to HostelBookers.com, so it doesn’t matter which one you book through.
This hostel provider combines many of the popular hostel providers in one area, so you do not have to search every hostel provider individually, trying to find the best price! Also, this provider goes one step further, and will pay you to leave reviews of the hostels! They will pay you $10USD to write a detailed review! Also, importantly, the hostel fees on this website are the same as the individual providers such as Hostelworld!
Hotelscombined does what you think it does. It combines the most common hotel providers in one website, so when you find a hotel you like, it will show you the price that each hotel booking system is offering it for. You can then select that hotel for the best price, and Hotelscombined will redirect you to that website.
Feel free to ask me any questions about how to book your next trip!