Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. Many of my friends are skiing, cruising, and touring as we speak during their children’s week off for spring break. Summer will bring more travels and trips. Traveling is one of our favorite things to do. Looking forward to being in a new and different surrounding is so exciting to me. I love planning and booking restaurant and hotel reservations, and researching to find unique experiences like cooking or fitness classes. I was talking to my friend about her upcoming trip to Austin and she asked for my advice on how to find reliable reviews on hotels, restaurants, and activities. At first, I didn’t really think I had much to offer her other than just telling her use Google, but as I thought about my routine when planning our trips I realized I have specific sites I go to for dependable reviews and cheap prices. Perhaps what I am about to share is common knowledge, but maybe not. As we embark on America’s travel season, I would like to share some travel tips I use to ensure that when I’m on the move in a new city, I’m not wasting anytime.
- Kayak.com. It sounds cliche, but use it for flights. The site is easy to navigate and you can type in flexible travel dates. The site will generate a matrix that allows you to see the cheapest combinations of arrival and departure dates. Many times, the site will show deals that aren’t even on the airlines website. Just remember that Southwest will ONLY let you book through their website, so always check Southwest.com as well.
- Stick to your sleep schedule. When Mark and I were younger, we used to pick the cheapest flight and suffer through late night arrivals and extremely early morning departures. For domestic travel, we don’t do that anymore. You will enjoy your trip so much more if you are well rested. And when you return home, you will be able to enjoy your first day back instead of dragging ass because you landed at 1 A.M. and finally crawled in bed at 2:30 A.M. Try to choose flights that won’t interrupt your normal sleep schedule. I promise you, even if it is a bit more expensive, you will enjoy yourself exponentially more.
- Oyster.com. I love this site for researching hotels in my travel destination. It has pros and cons for all hotels, tons of pictures, and I have found it to be on point. The site also shows you prices through expedia.com, hotels.com, booking.com, and other travel websites. I almost always (there have been a few exceptions) find that booking through the hotels website it typically cheaper than booking through a travel website. Once I find the hotel I want to stay in, I always go directly to that property’s website.
- 10best.com. I love this website because it is not overwhelming. It is just the 10 best in the categories of : see and do, eat, party, stay, shop, and regions. I have always found their recommendations to be really good and if you cross reference them on other websites like eater.com (which is a site I LOVE for finding restaurants) you will get confirmation.
- Invest in a great under seat carry on. This changed my life. The bag I got was a Henri Bendel Jetsetter. Taylor Swift has the same bag, so it must be good, right? You can carry it as a purse or it can also be a backpack (which frees up my hands when going through security) and it fits with ease underneath even the smallest airplane seat. The most important thing about investing in a carry on is not the kind of bag you get, but the functionality. Once you begin to use the same carry on, you will become a much more confident traveler because you will know where your stuff is and knowing where your stuff is expedites the travel process and makes it less stressful. My husband travels with a briefcase as his carry on. He has traveled with the same bag for years. We were on a trip to Los Angeles for Kippo and he brought a different carry on because we had to haul back 118 pairs of shorts, which made bringing his briefcase impractical. While on the plane, he took out his laptop to do some work. Because he didn’t have his normal bag with a spot for his laptop, he left his laptop in the seatback in front of him. Luckily, a kind flight attendant noticed and paged Mark over the loudspeaker. His brain was wired for that bag, which makes travelling easier, as long as you don’t switch your luggage.