3 Savvy Travel Tools
I love to travel. I love the anticipation that comes with planning the trip, and the excited butterflies (not to mention people watching) at the airport. I love discovering new places, and getting lost on purpose so that I really have to see what’s around me. I love to travel – and I think I’ve become pretty good at it.
Planning is everything, but only at the beginning. My general order of operation is: Purchase tickets, find a place to stay … then just go; take it as it comes.
I used to rely heavily on Priceline for ticket prices, with a side of Travelocity, and a sprinkle of Orbitz and Expedia to spice it up. Honestly, I didn’t find Kayak to be all that helpful. Created by cofounders of Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz, Kayak was too busy and kind of made my head hurt. But, Kayak was acquired by Priceline in 2012, and now it’s the one travel search engine to rule them all.
Kayak compares ticket prices available on different airlines. They graph price trends, advise you whether to buy or wait, and show you what their confidence level is that prices will rise, drop, or stay. You can connect with other travel search engines right from Kayak, and visit individual airline sites.
2. One-Way Tickets
It’s your adventure, so it’s your schedule – make the airlines work for you. Purchasing two one-way tickets instead of a roundtrip set can save you money and let you fly on your time. You have the ability to search one-way instead of roundtrip on any airline’s website, as well as travel search engines.
Kayak can also help with this. The site will show you “hacker fares” when available, and list them at the top of your search. When Kayak finds two one way tickets (to be purchased separately) it will bundle them so you see the total price, then direct you to the individual airlines’ sites. I recently scored a ticket from Denver to New Orleans on United Airlines for $99, and from New Orleans back to Denver on Frontier Airlines for $120.
When my wanderlust first took over I stayed in a lot of hostels. These are great, abundant and cheap. However, my tastes have changed a bit, and I’ve found Vacation Rentals by Owner. There are loads of great houses, apartments, flats and condos to rent all over the world. I find these great for traveling in groups – a house with a couple of bedrooms, couch, full kitchen and walking distance to fun is perfect. Split the cost and you’re living large on the cheap!
VRBO provides you with pictures of the property, rates, maps of the location and gets you in touch with the owner. Every property I’ve stayed in has been comfortable, clean and cozy, and the owners have been friendly and easy to work with.
Traveling far? Make that extended flight fly by
Nothing can be a buzzkill on a trip like having to sit on a plane for what feels like an endless amount of time. To help make the time pass farther, download some movies or shows onto your tablet – available from iTunes (for iOS) or the Google Play Store (Android). The best tablet traveling cases are the rugged OtterBox Defender Series – which include a kickstand to hold up your tablet for perfect viewing on your flight!
If you’d like to chat about where to visit next, I have opinions on that, too.