I promised Sean I wouldn’t start planning a bunch of trips for 2016. Yeah…I lied. The thing is, I love to travel. And everybody knows that. So I’m pretty much always planning some trip or another. With the year winding down, I cannot help but look forward to what trips I can take next year, so the past couple of days have been spent looking up itineraries and flights and AirBnbs.
I’ve been so fortunate to travel so much over the past couple of years that my friends often come to me for advice on planning trips – where to go, where to get cheap deals, etc. So, since I’m doing a bit of planning on my own right now, I’ve decided to put together a list of my favorite places to go to find accommodation and transport for the many trips I plan in my head.
Flights & Trains
Direct Websites – BA, EasyJet
For loyalty purposes, I go straight to British Airways. It’s always my first stop for flight checking. BA is easiest for me since I’m flying out of London, but when I was Boston-based it was JetBlue. I recommend picking an airline that serves your local airport and covers nearly any destination you could need to get to! I also use EasyJet when they’re having a sale. Honestly, you can get European flights for so cheap…usually about £60 RT even if booked last minute. It’s not the most comfortable airline, but I really don’t mind it that much, especially for the price.
[A quick (and cheap) EasyJet flight to Nice and bam…this view!]
When I’m not getting my way on the BA website (aka prices are extortianate), I pretty much always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight options. It pulls together different airlines and even mix and matches to find the cheapest combination. My favorite part is that I can filter the departure times to get the most out of my stay!
Sean and I do so many weekend trips that trains are not usually an option. However, for longer trips (often when I’m doing many cities at a time), I find it to be a cheaper and more scenic alternative to planes, especially when traveling within the same country. Seat61 is great because it tells you the best and cheapest way to get from place to place.
[My friend Jamie and I did a lot of train travel on our Salzburg – Vienna – Budapest – Bucharest trip. I used Seat61 throughout the entire planning process to figure out our options]
As I’ve stated before, and will continue to state, AirBnb is my first choice when it comes to planning trips. For a cheaper price, you get clean and modern accommodation (if you look carefully) in a great location with a host that will give local advice. I’ve had some amazing experiences and some questionable ones, but I still consider it to be the best source for accommodation. I recommend researching neighborhoods and reading reviews before picking a place to stay – pictures may lie but reviewers rarely do!
[The AirBnb Marisa and I stayed at in Marseille is probably the nicest one I’ve stayed in yet – I honestly wanted to copy and paste the furnishings into my own home!]
[Sean and I stayed in a gorgeous and perfectly located AirBnb in Florence with THIS view. It was right on the water, so I’m not even kidding that this was the exact view. I was in heaven for four straight days.]
I found the B&B my dad and I stayed at in Bruge on Booking.com and it is probably my favorite B&B…ever! This website brings out unique options, not all of the main brand named hotels. It has a mix of expensive and inexpensive, so is good for anyone. The only downside is that there aren’t many listings in some cities.
[Our breakfast at Maison Bousson in Bruges, complete with a flight of juices/smoothies/yogurts]
For everything else, there is Expedia. It’s great for last minute deals or special packages, but I don’t think the prices vary much when booking in advance, which is why the above two booking methods always come first!
I like to keep an eye on Groupon deals because they can sometimes cover both flights and accommodation! Sean and I booked our trip to Milan for about £220 for both flights and two nights accommodation in a 4* hotel. Of course, they try to get you to buy add ons and try to rip you off with flight times and hotel location, but it was a nice to not have to worry about finding stuff for ourselves. I love planning, but for those who don’t (or for a last minute getaway), packaged deals are great!