The ability to plan your own, personalised, dream vacation online has revolutionised the travel industry. With just a few clicks you can arrange everything from flights, accommodation, and tours from the comfort of your own home. The downside to this incredible change in how we book vacations is the huge number of websites out there pitching for your custom. Which do you choose? And where do you even start? We’ve compiled a short guide of 5 easy steps to help you plan that dream vacation online.
- Pick a destination (or two, or three)
Picking a destination can actually be the most difficult part of planning your dream vacation online. The world is a huge and wondrous place. Maybe you already have an idea of where you want to go, and what sort of vacation you want (adventurous, relaxing, city break, etc), but if you don’t there are websites out there to help.
Social media platforms such as Instagram have a huge catalogue of images to inspire you, just by searching hashtag terms such as #travel. Then there are handy tools on sites such as kayak.com, which will show you all the destinations you can reach for your budget. Simple!
- Find your flights
Being adaptable with dates will make finding great flight deals all the easier, and while planning as far in advance as possible is a generally accepted rule for getting the best (in other words, cheapest) flights out there, it does depend on destination. Its better to book some destinations early, while better to wait with others. Again, online tools from price comparison sites can help, with various websites having flight price trackers so you can predict the direction of future prices.
That said, never rely on a single comparison site. You actually need to compare comparison sites to find the best deal. While the difference in pricing may not be huge – perhaps $20/person, this soon adds up for a family. Skyscanner, expedia, and opodo have the best reputations among the many out there, but bear in mind these sites might well direct you to third site (rather than direct to an airline) when you come to book, so be aware at the very least in case you need to alter your booking at a later date.
- Decide on accommodation
With your flights all confirmed you’ll have the dates you need to start looking at the various forms of accommodation available today for vacationers. Choosing the right accommodation for your vacation will play a huge role into whether you enjoy your time away, so pay particular attention to facilities and location, and make a list of any ‘must haves’ before you start and stick to it. It may sound obvious, but if you want a swimming pool you’ll need to ensure your accommodation has one!
There are large and small players on the market, and the market leaders are changing all the time. For the time being, expedia or trivago are considered the best sites for traditional hotels, while booking.com offers everything from rooms in family homes to sumptuous hotel suites. Airb&b is perhaps the most exciting option, allowing you to let a room or apartment directly from a local, at often incredibly good prices.
- Plan your activities
Even if you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, there are bound to be a few activities you’ll want to get involved with to keep the vacation fresh and mark each day out as different. Using a search engine to investigate ‘things to do in X’ will be sure to bring up the most popular activities at that destination. For a more nuanced approach, you’ll need to be a bit cleverer however.
Head directly to a trustworthy travel company and you’ll get much more from your time online than when simply using a search engine like Google. For instance, head to Locally Sourced Cuba, and you’ll discover all the types of tours in Cuba and all of what they offer in much more detail, while knowing the information in trustworthy too.
- Think about transport
Transport is another important aspect of planning a dream vacation online that shouldn’t be forgotten, so takes the last place on our list. Some destinations, most notably Europe perhaps, are easy to get around by public transport, while others may well require some form of private transport.
If you don’t fancy the idea of hiring a car (or don’t have a licence!) a growing number of destinations round the world have car sharing schemes, which see you either sharing the vehicles themselves, or journeys in private vehicles – rather like a taxi service. Needless to say, bigger cities tend to be the best place to find this sort of transportation.
And that really is it! All you need to plan your dream vacation online in five easy to follow steps!