When a friend says to me ‘I’m just gonna book with a travel agent and get an all inclusive deal because it’s easier’ a little bit of me cringes inside. I cannot think of anything worse than someone taking the planning side of my holiday away from me. Moreover, it is (probably) cheaper to book things yourself because there is no middle man to pay. So how do I do it? Here is a list of websites I use to help me plan and book a trip without the use of a travel agent.
How to book your own holiday
The first website I head to is always Skyscanner. I use the search ‘everywhere’ feature and work out a few destinations in my price range that I’m interested in visiting. Sometimes I’ll do this for specific dates if I’m limited other wise I’ll just pick a month and browse. Once I’ve found some good deals I will then have a quick check on the airline website to make sure the price matches up. I never use one of the booking agents, especially if I haven’t heard of them or the booking sounds too good to be true. I’m sure there are some booking agents that are legit but just be sure to do your research if you wanna go down that route. Once I’ve got a few flight options I then head to my next website before I book!
I always like to have a quick look at accommodation before booking a flight. It is possible to find the best flight deal but then realise accommodation is totally out of budget. My go-to websites are Trivago and Airbnb. Trivago is a bit like Skyscanner and lets you compare the price of the same hotel across lots of different sites to check you are getting the best price. I’ll happily book using any of the providers on this site although typically Expedia or Booking come out tops! Just to be doubly sure I’m getting a good price I’ll cross check with Airbnb to see which is cheaper. You’ll be surprised that it isn’t always Airbnb that wins here. The choice I make here often depends on what kind of trip I’m taking. A hotel is great for a short stay but I much prefer an apartment for a longer stay.
Once I’m happy with both flights and accommodation I will book both at the same time. This means that I know the two key elements of my holiday are organised.
It is then all hands on deck from researching the trip. The first thing I do is order a Lonely Planet guide book, however, they have pretty much everything you’ll need online too. Lonely Planet guides are great for the all essential info like how to get around and the best highlights of your destination. I used to always use them for accommodation suggestions too but find these limited compare to the online search engines. Of course I will also turn to my fave travel bloggers to see if they have any suggestions for my up and coming destination.
The one thing you don’t get with organising a trip yourself is the transfers organised. It is worth contacting the hotel or Airbnb host to see if they can provide this. If not a check on Google Maps can be a good way to find a route. Quite often a taxi or airport bus is an affordable way to reach your accommodation.
Are there any other sites you use to book a trip? I’d love to hear about them!
Never used Airbnb before? You can sign up here