Travel Tools: Search Engines and Research

I get really excited about trips. I mean, reallyyyyyy excited. I start planning and researching right away.

To plan a good trip, you need a LOT of research. Domestic trips, here in the states, are easy- you can email or write to visitors' bureaus, visit the official city websites, or do a general search for events and festivities through Google.

Finding a Flight
This is tough. I have found that the best flights can be found through rigorous searches, combining a plethora of useful keywords and phrases. Ex: student, student flights, cheap airfare, seasonal flights, discount tickets, etc. You will find that a lot of inexpensive flights occur during 'last minute' windows. This is about 2 weeks-1 month prior to your departure date.

So that's one side of researching flights, the other side? Use Kayak. I can't tell you how awesome kayak.com is! They scour ALL flight sites for the best possible deals and you can then sift through them by date, time, airline, even by airport. This saves you ALL the trouble of seeing if a flight would be cheaper from an airport a little farther out. You'll be surprised!

The other thing I love about kayak is what I call the randomtriporizer. Visit buzz.kayak.com, the map will show you the cheapest flights across the globe. Back in 2005, Kevin and I chose the cheapest one on the list, Chicago, and went there the day after Thanksgiving. It was phenomenal! A GREAT time to visit the city, I'll have to post about that later.

Another great site is Farecast. Farecast.com is a site that lets you watch the pricing trends of flights, so see when the best time to buy is. As soon as you see your flight on the rise, buy! This is really useful and has helped me determine just the right time to purchase tickets for international flights.

Finding a Hotel
This one is harder. You have to rely on the testimonials of people who have been to these places to trust that they're worth staying in. I think the best site for finding a hotel is Hotels Combined. Their layout is pretty much like Kayak, but for hotels! Phenomenal!

Finding Fun Stuff To Do
I've found that the best thing to do when looking for stuff to do is read people's blogs. Do a search in a blog hosting site for the city you're looking for, plus something that interests you [ex: Boston, Museum or Dallas, festival]. Then you can find first-hand accounts, sometimes pictures, of cool and local things to do, without being stuck to the normal touristy stuff. Visiting the museums and checking for 'free' days or 'discount' days is also great, you can plan an entire trip around free stuff, which is what Kevin and I did for Chicago.

What to Wear
This list applies to ANYWHERE, I swear. This is the list I keep, no matter where I go.
-2 pair of jeans
-one comfy skirt
-flip flops
-2 thin tshirts, 2 thin long sleeved shirts
-one sweater/hoodie
-one thin jacket
-handful of socks, underwear, one pair of tights
Here's why this works, if you go to a cold place, LAYER. I can't stress this enough! If you need to, wear your longsleeved shirt, then your tshirt, then your hoodie, then your jacket- if you don't, stick with the tshirt and jeans. If you're visiting a church, sport the skirt and cute flipflops and a clean, simple tshirt. All this stuff will fit in ONE bag you can carryon, I don't quite believe in checking bags. Frankly, it scares me. When you're away, buy a cheap suitcase that you can fill with all the souvenirs you bought or extra clothes and check that when you fly back.

Taking Care of Business
Before you travel ANYWHERE, make copies of ID. Take your license, your debit card, your school ID and place them together on the glass of a copy machine, if you must, add your travel partner's too. You'd be surprised how often this comes in handy! I'm terrified of losing my debit card or my license, so in a place that I can have the register manually input the numbers, I go for it. I also take a copy of my birth certificate. The less you carry around, the better- so try to keep with cash [less than $50] and some ID. If you're traveling internationally, use a prepaid credit card, I got one from my bank, SunTrust. Be sure to call your bank and let them know that you will be abroad, so that they don't freeze your account due to international usage.
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I really love to travel and I think the best way to do it is to plan ahead and follow through with all your financial planning and event planning. Research Research Research!
1 Response
  1. contacto Says:

    Hi!

    Take also a look to a site called Trabber. Really useful to find the best air fares.

    Here is the address - www.trabber.com