If you are one of those people who think planning a vacation is painful, I have news for you. With the internet making available so much information and so many startups mushrooming to load you with never-before offerings, vacationing has never been easier.
From research, to flights, stay, attractions, restaurant options and shopping, it is all in a day’s work. I know, I know…you would say why take up the hassle when you have agents and travel companies that would do it for you. Well, the reasons are many – at the top being that it is way, way cheaper and you get to do exactly what you want on your vacation for which you have toiled and truly deserve.
Picture this: Anya is your everyday superhero, managing a demanding career, a husband, a 7-year old and a teenager. Zoom to summer vacation. Now the easy thing to do is to call your ROTC (does anyone know what these abbreviations stand for?) and book a pre-packaged holiday. So that’s what she did. Booked a (not cheap) trip to Singapore. Poor Anya expected an excited reaction from her family. But alas!
The package required them to get up early in the morning for a city tour – Teenager irritated
There was not enough free time to go shopping on Orchard Street – Mom disappointed
It did not include a trip to the Aquarium atSentosa – Baby crying
The dad was just upset because he couldn’tstay at the fancy hotel he wanted and that he had to deal with all this!
How is this a happy vacation!
There is a simple solution to this mess – Do It Yourself.
It’s all about the money: First things first. It is insane the amount of money you can save if you plan your trip yourself. Here I will give you hacks on saving moolah on every leg of planning. I will not talk of the mainstream internet companies as we all know about them.
You can save the maximum money on flight tickets. Check out Skyscanner. This mobile app will guaranteed find you the cheapest tickets. You will no longer be dependent on the set prices of travel agents or travel companies.
Compare prices on different days. Tickets are mostly cheaper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Stay away from weekends as that is when prices are hiked. Also, if you are planning to go to multiple destinations, check the longest to and fro flights to all the airports. There are different airport taxes on different cities. This makes for big savings. For example, if you are planning to do a Euro trip – a ticket to Brussels will cost half as much as a ticket to Paris. You can always go to Brussels and plan a road trip to adjoining destinations.
Next is attraction tickets. Want to experience a romantic dinner on Dhow cruise in Dubai, visit Disneyworld in Hong Kong, go to see beautiful birds at Jurong Park in Singapore, witness magic maestros at play in Las Vegas or see a cabaret show in Thailand – you can buy tickets to all these attractions even before you leave home! Check out Tuatos. I can tell you with personal experience that the tickets on Tuatos are far cheaper than any deals of agents. In fact, they are even cheaper than tickets found at the entrance counter of many attractions. By booking tickets on Tuatos, not only you will save monies, but also it will give you the flexibility of choosing when you want to visit the attractions. You can decide the day and time most convenient to you.
Coming to stays. I love AirBnB. Well I don’t think the sentence justifies my sentiment. I LOVE AIRBNB! Hotels are now passé. Startups like AirBnB give you amazing deals on home stays. You get to experience local culture, meet local people as well as try local food. And it barely costs a thing. Stays actually constitute 10% of my actual vacation cost thanks to this. Even though AirBnB is my thing, I love my beach resorts. For that, I recommend Booking.com. Again, great deals.
No timetable:For me after the money (I am a Sindhi after all), the second most important factor is that I hate following time tables. Definitely never on a vacation. Give me a break please, literally! So if you plan your own vacation, you don’t have to worry about missing the bus or breakfast. If you are not a morning person, schedule things for later in the day or vice versa. You can be king of your own holiday.
Something for everyone: You will not find yourself caught in Anya’s predicament. You can easily plan things that will please everyone in the family as per your wish, mood and convenience. Websites like Tuatos will give you information on all kinds of attractions – timings, what they entail, prices and more. So you can go to the amusement park your kid wants or book a romantic cruise with your SO. This is a big plus as it makes a happy family.
Next time you have to plan a vacation, give it a try this way. Say bye-bye to tour packages and travel companies. My experience has taught me this way I save up to 40% in costs, depending on how smart I play it. You can create a holiday which combines being frugal in some places and indulgent in others.
All the best. Happy planning!