One week from now I’m going to New York to see my wife. I know it sounds weird and awful and yes, it’s challenging, but that would be a conversation for another time. Today I wanted to mention something that most of my travel loving friends would find obvious thing to do – shopping around minimise the cost of your trip.
Despite seeing plenty of special offers and discounts to book trip abroad with all inclusive hotels I still find that doing your own research will more often than not give you better value for money and you will make more rational and informed decision. Comparison lets me find best compromise between the level of comfort/service and the price I am expected to pay. I also get better prices for exact same flight using 3rd party agents (must be ATOL certified/protected) than buying directly from the airline performing the flight. This has also led me to better understanding of pricing structure and sensitivity to the season.
Recent examples where I have paid shamefully low price would be (all from London, UK, return) trip to Riga, Latvia for £18 (inc. all taxes, hand luggage only), going to Tenerife, Spain for £80 and to New York, USA for under £400. I always use skyscanner.net and choose full month as I usually am flexible on +/- few days. It is also worth noting that once you have found yourself the best price you should clear cache and cookies (browsing data) as price comparison sites tend to inflate their prices if they know you are showing interest on particular routes. Those sites themselves deny such practice but I seem to differ and speak from my own experience.
Secondly, you will need to find a place to stay once you get to your destination in which case you have more than one option – you can opt for all inclusive hotels or the ones with only bed & breakfast, or maybe opt for a stay at locals. Personally I would use sites such as Booking.com or Hotels.com but I have heard great stories from friends who have stayed at locals by prearranging their stay on Couch Surfing site and my friends have also hosted many visitors when they come to my their country. It is a great way to make new international friends however it is not for everyone.
Over the years I have made friends that are now scattered across the globe so when I consider my next country to visit I am very likely to reach out to my friends and see if they can offer a place. And it’s a favour that I will most certainly return.