My Top 10 Travel & Trip Planning Hacks (My Best Kept Secrets and Tricks of the Trade)

It’s no surprise that I LOVE to travel. My greatest joy and memories every year are the trips I take and the satisfaction from the new places I’ve explored and discovered. Travelling has so much to offer and you really gain and grow from it, but it can sometimes be stressful to organise and all the costs of booking a trip can be overwhelming.

For these reasons I’ve put together a list of my top travel hacks that help me overcome the worries, concerns and excess costs. My hacks ensure all my trips are well thought out (with a good amount of relaxation and room for spontaneous adventures) and as financially wise as possible. It makes the trips that much sweeter, memorable and more worthwhile.

Below are my top 10 travel and trip planing hacks to always travel well

1. Book 3 months in advance

It’s a no brainer and everyone always says it but try plan at least a little in advance. Apparently the optimal period is 3 months. I read this once somewhere and have stuck to the rule since. I must say it works! I always seem to get the best / lowest price for flights (at least 80% of the time) by following this rule.

2. Use aggregate sites to research flights and hotels

The internet is a wonderful place. It really does simplify my life so much. Aggregate sites pull together information from multiple websites to simplify your online research. I’m a repeat user for several of them because they save me so much time and money each trip and I have the confidence that I’m booking the best deal. My favourite sites are HotelsCombined  and Skyscanner (not sponsored… promise!).

3. Don’t book trips through a travel agent

I’ve tried to give travel agents a go a few times now (I won’t name and shame them) although I have rarely had success. I have always managed to find a better deal myself, saving hundreds & even thousands of dollars. I have at times found some agents rude when I’ve showed them the deal directly on my phone but they assured me it couldn’t be done (I get it, they run off commissions). Sorry, not for me.

4. Subscribe to hotel/flight newsletters to get the best deals

It ensures you are always the first to hear and get onto the BEST deals. I work in marketing and know for a fact businesses release their best deals via email first (direct comms) so subscribe. You can always bookmark a webpage but it means you have to keep checking back. I also tend to get some great vouchers, deals and coupons in the emails too e.g. Agoda, Jetstar (love a fare frenzy).

5. Go incognito when booking online

Another thing I know for a fact because I work in digital marketing is that pretty much all websites cookie you. They will jack up the price if you keep looking at the same thing several times. It rarely naturally goes up in price in a short period of time. Turn on private browsing in Chrome to ensure you don’t fall for this trap and pay a premium price often called a rush price.

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6. Don’t be deceived by the name (travel brands)

HostelWorld? Only for booking hostels right? Wrong! I have booked beautiful hotels and B&B’s for crazy cheap prices on this site. TripAdvisor? Honest traveller reviews? Not always the case. Scroll to page 15 then you’ll see some real comments. The first 2 pages are sometimes fake reviews by the hotel management (yikes). It’s all an illusion people #branding.

7. Travel insurance is included on some credit cards

For so long I was paying twice the cost for travel insurance as I didn’t realise it was included on my credit card! We specifically have the CBA Platinum credit card which gives my hubby and I global travel insurance with amazing cover, saving us hundreds of dollars every trip. NB this card was issued through the bank with our mortgage.

8. Booking direct with the hotel can pay off

I learnt this from a B&B owner in Amalfi, Italy who told us you can actually get the cheapest price direct from the hotel / B&B as they sometimes have to add a commission on other sites. So if I find a good deal for example on Expedia, I’ll then contact the hotel or B&B direct and see if they can match or beat the deal. Persistence pays off!

9. Memberships and loyalty programs save you serious dollars

It’s worth it to become members of websites and sign up to loyalty programs e.g. Expedia’s rewards program is a fave. I always get an additional 10% off when I book plus points I can then use as credits on my next booking. And they often upgrade you too as a member and offer you VIP packages for certain hotels.

10. Research your airports well

Before booking that cheap flight, check how far it is from the city or place you’re going to. It may seem easy to brush that decision off for later but countless times I have heard of people getting ridiculously cheap flights but then paying the same or more as a closer flight because of additional transport costs to their destination e.g. $150 cab fees, $50 train / bus tickets etc. Not to mention the extra time and hassle of it all.

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I did a blog post not long ago about why travelling is good for you. After reading this post and that one, you’re bound to be booking your next trip! See it here.

What’s your best travel hack?

A x

Ps – Pictures featured are from my recent trip to Hawaii. It was perfection. More to come on this soon 🙂

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