Travel Planning: What planning?

I'm a stickler for plans- I like itineraries, maps, guidelines, deadlines, schedules, all that jazz. Having a plan for your trip, or even a day out on the town, is the best way to get all you want to get done accomplished.

However, sometimes this doesn't work. The devil fools with the best laid plans, after all. Be ready to accept that, and -surprise- have a back-up plan! The devil is only busy enough to mess with your plan once, so make sure you have a back-up. I just finished reading a great travel book, lonely planet's Tokyo City Guide. What I love about this guide book is that it highlighted a lot of hidden Tokyo hotspots. When you're visiting a city where walking is key, make sure you allot time for 'Hey, look at this!' type stops. This guidebook is great because I can now plan on stopping by!

Sometimes, running behind schedule, missing a train, or forgetting your ticket is the least of your worries- those are all your own fault. You should have back-up plans for things you can't control, like the weather, a city-worker strike [no joke], or say, a natural disaster [Japan has had 2 earthquakes in the past couple of weeks!!]. Rain is far more pleasant, so we'll use that as an example! Pack your day with as many in-door activities and places to visit as possible, but keep in mind that if it rains, chances are outside areas, like parks and promenades may be empty- so don't completely knock them off your list.

Ideas for rainy days:
Seeing a movie
Visiting a church
Visiting a museum/gallery

Bad ideas for rainy days:
Sports match
Amusement park
Walking tour

Check out this list of things to do in Japan, rain or shine!
Yahoo! Things to do

Note: If you're looking to visit Japan, be sure to visit this blog, tons of tips!

Travel Planning: Airfare Competition

Finding a flight at a fair price is no easy task. It's arduous, if done properly. However, it's so worth it if you can find a flight at 30 or 40% of the typical price. That's the problem, though, nobody has time for that! So, we rely on these search portals to scan competing websites in hopes of gleaning the very best in flights and pricing.

Therefore, I'm doing an experiment. My boyfriend has never been to Boston. I'm a born and bred Bostonian and I think it would be a nice gift to fly him there for his birthday, which falls on a Saturday- Aug 4th, to be exact. Let's see who has the best findings, shall we?

Factors to consider:
1) weekend flights are expensive- best to leave on a Thursday night, fly back Sunday
2) airports in proximity for both departure and arrival
3) budget
4) his family plans
5) budget

I'd have to check and see what his family is up to for that weekend, only if I want them to like me, of course. [sigh] Anyway, hopefully they wouldn't have a big shindig planned, so we'll consider number 4 done. Next, budget! I suppose I don't want to spend more than 80-90$ for each way, which is 160-180$ round trip, each. The reason I broke it down like that is because sometimes, it's cheaper to buy two one-way tickets instead of a roundtrip flight. Weird, I know. Typically, I would search for those one-way fares, but today we'll leave it up to the search portals. So the budget is set. Airports are easy, you can elect for the search portals to include neighboring airports quite easily- done. Ok, let's go!

Requested flight: depart Thursday 8/2 and return Monday 8/6, <$200 each Here are the best found prices, for each site: $237 on JetBlue, total cost $467.60 total cost $465.40 on USAirways and Airtran $234 on JetBlue, total cost $467.60 $239 on AirTran, total cost $498.40 unknown, see Notes below. $242 on USAirways and Delta, total cost $485.40 $240.20 on USAirways and Airtran, total cost $480.40


Kayak opened the JetBlue site in another window, and my original window gave me a nice list of options:
We took you to to book this flight. Flight not found?
Go Back to your flight results
Sign up for Boston fare alerts
Find the best Boston hotel for these dates
Return to homepage
Additionally, a Boston fare alert popped up, leading me to a list of flights for under $200 each, but they gave me specific days- still a VERY good deal.

Orbitz presented a list of very competitive prices, but everytime I clicked on one, I got this message: Sorry, but your search results are no longer available. Please redo your search. (Message 1010). :(

Farecast told me to hold off purchasing, that the flight price was dropping- awesome! I can also choose to place a watch on this flight so that when it hits below a certain price, I can buy it. Neato.

Results, SkyAuction is the gold medal winner, with Kayak and SideStep right behind. To me, though, Kayak wins for providing other options quite easily.

Travel Tools: Bundle Folding

So I'm getting ready to start packing for Japan- Yeah I know, the trip isn't until late September, but who can wait! I'm already picturing the outfits I'm taking along- not because I'm a serious modern fashionista, but because I don't like bringing clothes I a) won't wear and b) don't want cluttering my suitcase.

Here's my plan of action, as far as clothes:
1) thin items I can layer
2) cotton unmentionables, only 3 -yep. 3.
3) pair of jeans
4) cotton skirt/ sundress
5) 3 pairs of flats

Done. That'll certainly last the 8 days we're there. Now, I'll be [gulp] sharing a suitcase that we'll be [double gulp] checking. This goes against everything I am, especially on international flights! However, it'll be mostly empty, and I'll still have my carry on. I still want to save space, so I found this neat guide on how to 'bundle' your outfits together. It's pretty neat.