For me, part of having an amazing adventure is picking a good flight route and staying in the right place. I recommend taking your time and finding the best options for you. The best adventures start with great planning, so here are some tricks I’ve picked up in my travels to create the most enjoyable and affordable trip possible.
When choosing flights, I keep a few tips in mind. I try to fly direct and never have more than one stop in the US. I also like to have about a 90-minute layover, which gives me enough time for little wiggle room if my initial flight is delayed, but not so much that it drastically extends the total travel time. I normally like to have longer layover times on my departure flights than my return flights. Being delayed getting back from a trip is no big deal, but missing the start of a trip, especially when meeting a group, can be disastrous.
My choice of lodging depends upon the circumstances of my trip. On work trips, I prefer to stay in well-known hotels where good services are available. When traveling for an adventure, however, I like to stay off the beaten path to have more of a local experience.
I have tried many travel sites, but these are a few of my favorites:
Kayak – This is my go-to site. It has great search criteria, such as length of layover, departure time for each leg of a flight, lodging review scores, and the radius around an area. It also pulls from many other sites, so it is a great central resource.
Expedia – I use this site when I need to lock down a reservation because I am concerned prices may go up, but it is possible I may need to cancel. For most flights they have a 24-hour cancellation policy, and for most lodging you can book and pay later.
Air BNB – This is such an amazing site. I rarely use it for work, but love it for fun trips. I have used it to book rooms from San Francisco to islands in Thailand. On this site, individuals list their second homes or extra rooms in their houses, plus unusual places like treehouses and sailboats, that are available for rent. Air BNB includes reviews and ratings posted by other travelers so you can feel safe in your choices.
Priceline Last Minute Deals – This site is a little like gambling, yet you are guaranteed to save money. Few people know about this little trick: go into Priceline, search for a hotel, and on the results page, there is a third tab in the results screen called “Express Deals.” This tab lists categories of hotels by star levels which can be narrowed by area. You pick a star level for a set price, and after you submit your payment, you get a notice of which hotel you were placed in. I have stayed in $250 per night hotels for $80, but I have also ended up mediocre hotels (not a rip off – but not a great score). It is a gamble, but that is the fun of it!
My final recommendation would be take some time to do a thorough search until you are comfortable with your choices. Just don’t drive yourself crazy in doing so. Flights and lodging are important, but travel should be about the experience – not the mechanisms that get you there.