Crash Course for the Impulse Traveler – Decide / Fly / Stay / See

Modern travel offers a plethora of options, especially for those who have time and money to spare. There are so many beautiful things that we have to see in this world. We are not only talking about the crowded streets of Paris, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon or other renowned places. We are also taking about corners of the world that are off the beaten track. Every country and culture has something unique that is definitely worth seeing.

But how do you decide on a place to visit, and once you do decide, where do you start? Do you know what exactly you want to visit once there, and do you know where you will be staying? These are only some of the questions that travelers ask themselves before embarking on another adventure. This is a crash course for the impulse traveler who cannot decide how to fly, where to stay and what to see.

How to decide where you want to go

The biggest question for all globe trotters, the one that can turn them from eager planners to red-faced balls of stress is: Where should I go next? The truth is that choosing your next destination can be an overwhelming and daunting task. The following tips will help you narrow down your searches:

  • Choose places within a certain travel time radius: the first thing you should consider when choosing your next destination is the time you will be spending on the road. If you only have two weeks of vacation it isn’t quite ideal to spend half that time on the road. There are several free map tools, including “How far can I travel”, which show you how far you can go in set amount of time. Enter your parameters to get an idea of what places are within your travel radius.
  • Crash Course for the Impulse TravelerWhat type of traveler are you? Do you prefer to visit museums or explore the vast wilderness of an Amazonian rain forest? Each traveler has a unique personality. Some are romantic while others are adventurous; some are intellectual while others are danger junkies and the list goes on. If you’re more of an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ type of traveler you might want to visit small villages as opposed to cities. If you are a romantic or intellectual traveller, European capitals and places with heritage will resonate with you.
  • Determine your Budget: one of the biggest problems that travelers face is under-budgeting. There is nothing worse than running out of money while on a trip. To avoid this, one most plan finances ahead. Find out how much your flights & accommodations cost, set money apart for visiting and have a little something extra for backup. Your budget can also help you determine where you can travel. Don’t forget to include bus & public transit ticket prices and food prices. If you are a new traveler, you can also check out lists of cheap places that you can visit.
  • Choose your top activities: Another question you have to answer is what type of activities you will want to fill your time with. For example, if you prefer exploring the outdoors, you should go to places that are renowned for their natural beauty. On the other hand, if you enjoy experimenting with local cuisine, you should choose places with reputation for excellent food and drinks.

What Resources to Use When Planning a Trip

It happens to most of us: we find a new travel website that should be this or that. We are excited or skeptical or both. Nevertheless, we have no idea whether the information on that website is useful or not. We are not 100% sure if the services offered are the real-deal. There are not very many online tools that you can use to plan your trip and even fewer online resources for reviews, hotels, accommodations & travel advice:

  1. TripAdvisor: is without a doubt the most comprehensive resource for travelers. There are so many features worth mentioning but we will stick to the basics. First and foremost, TripAdvisor is a place to find the best hotels. Each hotel has its own page with reviews, photos, amenities, Q&A, tips and more. Probably the best aspect of TripAdvisor is the sheer amount of reviews.

This website is so important for the travel industry that hotel owners actually take the time to respond to each and every review posted by visitors. On TripAdvisor you can also find vacation rentals, restaurants, things to do, trending locations, flights and more.

  1. Cheap Flights & Price Comparison: when it comes to traveling, you have to make the educated choice. A little extra research can save you hundreds of dollars, especially when it comes to flying. There are several online services that you can use for comparing prices and finding the cheapest flights such as FareCompare, Kayak and SkyScanner.
  1. Booking.com: is the world leader in booking accommodations online. According to statistics, over 750.000 rooms are reserved through the website on a daily website. This is a definite go-to place for those who are still planning their trips.
  1. AirBnb: I planned accommodation for my last trip with the help of AirBnB. If you are looking for a different experience (not the hotel one), you should consider booking through AirBnB. What this website does is connect people who want to rent their homes with travelers who are interested in unusual accommodations. Spending your holiday in a local home will definitely change the perception of the place that you are visiting.

The best thing about the website is nature of the search engine: you can enter details such as room type, price, amenities, period of booking etc. in order to narrow down your search. Once you find a place that you like you can contact the host or click on the Book It button. The host will accept or decline your request and payment can be made through Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, JCB, Discover, Paypal and even Google Wallet. The money is frozen in AirBnB’s account until you check in. The payment will be released 24 hours after check-in. Obviously, travelers also have the option of leaving reviews for their hosts.

  1. HomeStay: HomeStay is extremely similar to AirBnB. From the landing page you can type down your desired location/region/suburb, check in and check out date, and the search engine will filter relevant results for you. Most of the accommodations available on HomeStay are personal homes and apartments. Each location has real photos, details of amenities, price information and more. The booking system works almost like the one on AirBnb. We almost forgot. On both HomeStay and Airbnb you can also become a host, and have travelers stay in your home. 

Frequent Flyer Programs (FFP)

This is a loyalty program offered by most airlines. The concept of Frequent flying is simple: airline client who enroll for the program and gather frequent-flyer distance can redeem them for air travel and other benefits (example: class upgrades, lounge access, priority booking etc.). If you travel a lot you should definitely enroll for Frequent Flyer programs to acquire bonuses. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to fly with only one airline in order to accumulate points.

For more information about Frequent Flyer programs please check out FlyerTalk, an online forum for discussion on this topic. You should also check the official website of your preferred airline for FFPs, or enquire a consultant about them.

How to Find out What to See & What to Do

There are so many online resources that you can use to find out about places that are worth visiting, and activities that are worth doing that we will not mention all of them. The first place you need to visit is a great travel blog. If you are looking for a personal opinion about a place, blogs are the place to go. There are hundreds of amazing Travel Blogs worth checking out. If you have no idea where to start you should check out Telegraph’s ‘World’s Best Travel Blogs’ article. If these blogs do not satisfy your curiosity, here are a few extra tools that you can use:

  • Good Old Google: Each location has specific attractions, which are usually listed on specific websites. If I were to list all the credible resources for specific locations it would take me half a day to put it together. Therefore, the best way to find interesting places and fun activities is by using Google. Simply type in “Places to see in *Your Destination*” and the search engine will provide with relevant results. Compare two or three articles to check the veracity of the information.
  • TripIt: If you still don’t know what you want to see, or you simply cannot be bothered with these details, you can use a service like TripIt, which provides a master itinerary for your upcoming travel. Amusingly enough the motto of TripIt is “TripIt, the ‘I Can’t find my flight number’ travel organization app.”
  • Tripomatic: is another itinerary creation tool. All you have to do is to write down your destination and visiting period and the website will automatically create an itinerary with places to visit, attractions etc. You will also be able to see a map of all the interesting attractions from your itinerary. The website also offers car rental & accommodation services as well as a list of activities and events.

This concludes our crash landing course for impulse travelers. Remember, sometimes it is better to plan the details of a trip ahead of time. This will give you more time to enjoy your trip.