Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustav Flaubert
Traveling is always exciting, be it a weekend getaway or a long vacation, it ignites a sense of adventure in us. However, the planning aspect of it is a tedious process and could potentially bore you. In that regard, I have put together apps to make travel planning easy and cost effective for your next trip.
Before booking flights and accommodation, research information that will help to create a good itinerary for your desired destination. Below are my go-to apps that I use to get inspiration and information for building my activity list.
This app is a social media platform as well as a search engine. In fact, it has a plethora of information and an ability to save and organise your pins in boards. Pin is a Pinterest lingual which basically means ideas that people find and save from around the web.
When creating your boards, you can name them based on your desired category. That way, it makes it easy to go back to your profile and retrieve what ever you pinned and use to your needs.
I love using Pinterest to research and get inspiration to design a creative travel itinerary and make it come true.
So, you might be wondering how Instagram is a good place to research vacation spots, when it is not a search engine. Instagram has this cool search feature that you can utilise to look for information by using hash (#) tags. Many people including myself, view hash tags as these trendy words that can get our posts noticed in many feeds. Well, hash tags can also be used to look for specific locations, for example; #italy or a broader search, such as #europe or #beautifuldestinations, for instance.
Once the hash tag location is typed in the search bar, you will see many pictures that will inspire you to build your itinerary. This is one of the tricks I use to know what to do or where to go when I want to visit a particular place.
Planning : Organize information
Now that you have an idea of where you want to travel to, put all that information in one place. Below are some of the apps I have been using to organize my to do list.
This app can be used as your office project organizer, business or personal project planner. I particularly use it to organize my blog content and travel plans. With this app, depending on what you are comfortable with, you can arrange your to do list in board layout or list layout. I usually use board layout for my travels, it is easy to categorize my trips into countries and build my to do list from there.
Asana allows you to add due dates, comments, attachments, images as well as sharing your tasks on different platforms. You will also be able to add team members into your projects or tasks. In that regard, your travel buddies will be able to contribute and be up to speed with the travel plans.
This is another app for organizing your projects and tasks. Ever since I started using Asana as my planner app, I rarely use Evernote for my projects. However, it is a good app and I thought it would be an awesome addition to this post.
Evernote works more or less the same as Asana. The only difference in my opinion, is its ability to offer templates that you can choose depending on the nature of your project.
Flights take up a big chunk of the travel budget, so I am always open to hearing of good deals or websites that offer cheaper flights. Some of the apps that I use to look through flights and compare prices are Skyscanner and Kiwi.
One of my friend, whom I soon hope to add to my travel buddy list, told me about this app. I used Skyscanner when I was planning my Canada trip. It was very convenient comparing flights from different airlines to see which ones offer the best deal.
There are many third-party booking websites and it can raise alarm on which to trust. With Skyscanner, when you want to make a booking it takes you directly to the airline website for you to complete your purchase. With that said, your ticket will not come from anywhere else but from the chosen airline.
Similarly to Skyscanner, Kiwi scans affordable flights across all available airlines. I really would not like to play favourites here, but because I constantly use Skyscanner, Kiwi has taken a back seat. However, I would urge you to use both apps to see which one gives you a better deal. Don’t be like me 🙂
This is my favourite part of planning. It is exciting going through websites looking for accommodation, because there are countless of choices out there. It is even more exciting nowadays with the availability of different types of holiday accommodation; from hotels to vacation homes.
My first choice will always be hotels, there is that sense of security and luxury that is comforting, especially when you are out of your country. But Apps like Airbnb have revolutionized the hospitality industry that not only will you feel safe but have a unique living experience of a home away from home.
Allow me to introduce some few avenues that you can explore to get affordable accommodation without extensive research.
Imagine renting an entire cottage in a private beach or a tree house overlooking the mountains── now that is the unique living experience I was talking about. The list is endless with Airbnb and their ability to offer affordable housing is another plus, if you ask me. All you have to do to get started is download the app, sign up and let you travel adventures begin. Do not wait for anymore reviews; experience it for yourself!
Booking.com is a great search engine for accommodation, they offer good deals and you can always choose to book through the site or directly with the hotels. It has photos of the properties and you can read reviews from guests before making a choice. You will also be able to filter your search according to your budget, location or the type of amenities that interest you.
I used the app for my trip to Morogoro and I can confidently say──I was happy with my deal.
Hotel rewards programs are loyalty programs run by hotels to attract travelers and turn them into frequent guests. They offer points whenever a guest stays in any of their properties. Depending on the number of points collected, guest can get upgrades, discounts, or free accommodation. Additionally, guests can purchase plane tickets, gadgets and accessories with their points.
To name a few; Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, Wyndham Rewards and IHG Rewards are among the top internationally recognized hotel rewards programs. I have been a member of the IHG Rewards Program since 2014. Over the years I stayed in a number of IHG hotels and because I was not in a rush to claim my points, I accumulated quite a hefty sum.
In 2017, as I was planning my travels, I chose to claimed some of my points to utilize for my Thailand trip. I had two weeks of free accommodation at the Holiday Inn in Bangkok, Phuket, Phi Phi island and Pattaya. Some of you were following my travel stories on Instagram and must have thought I had so much money to spend. But through careful planning and saving of my points that I was able to enjoy my rewards to the fullest.
I suggest you do your own research on which rewards program will interest you and sign up for it. The benefits are real if you treat it as a marathon and not a sprint in collecting your points.
The trick is;
- The more money spend on accommodation, the more the points.
- The longer you stay in the hotel, the more the points.
- If you pay directly on our own, rather than company discount code, the more the points (for business travelers).
This might be the least of your worries, but it is important to research safe ways to get around in any city. Buses and trains are convenient and cheap transport to get around, especially when you want to save money. However, the below apps are good when you want safe and affordable transport.
I use Uber in my home country and also when I travel. It is uber-cheap (excuse the pun!) compared to local cab companies and it allows me to track my ride progress. The app recently introduced a new safety feature called “Trusted Contact“. This feature allows you to share your whereabouts with loved ones as soon as your ride starts. I found myself using this safety feature quite frequently, because it also helps to let people know my arrival time.
In the East African region, you have an option of either ordering an UberPoa (three wheeler) or a regular vehicle. The UberPoa option is cheaper and convenient compared to a normal Uber car. Ultimately, it is your decision to choose what suits your pocket and comfort.
This is another taxi app that is highly used in the East African region. It is quite similar to Uber, in terms of the service offering. It sometimes differ in prices, so it is good to have both apps and use it interchangeably.
I had so much fun gathering this information for you guys, but I do not claim to know everything. So if you have ideas on how to make travel planning easy, do give a shout on the comment section below.
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