Has anyone self planned instead of going through travel agents? I am planning my OS trip by myself for March and becomming overwhelmed by it all. I am looking at all options from flying between places and also catching buses pending on travel time/cost of flights etc.
What was your process in booking it all from transport to accomodation to tours/sites you want to see?
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13-12-2015 13:08 #1
Self planning OS trip
13-12-2015 13:23 #2
Hey there. We always book our overseas travel ourselves. I won't lie, it's a big job but it literally saves thousands of dollars (it's the reason we can afford to travel).
First port of call for us is flights. It's tedious work but I just research all airline options online and keep a list of dates/times/costs and work an itinerary from that. Once that's all locked in then I move onto accommodation. Again, all online research. It's really time consuming, but you can find some cracker deals. Trip advisor is really helpful in the process.
As for transfers, most of that we leave until we arrive unless we know it's going to be difficult to arrange. Ditto for tours etc.
You can always be sneaky and go to a travel agent, get a heap of brochures then look the info up online to book yourself.
13-12-2015 13:26 #3
Self planning OS trip
we've booked 2 OS trips mainly by ourselves. I've only ever used the travel agent to book the main return flights (both times were from Australia to the US) and all other travel (including international flights) were booked myself online.
we used the TA for the big flights just to be sure we hadn't missed anything, had all the baggage we needed etc. I guess you could do that yourself too but we got good prices so I didn't mind.
as far as booking other stuff yourself, just research heaps. you're obviously going to have an idea of what you want to do, so start by googling tours/activities available in that city/region. you can look on trip advisor for reviews and traveller pics too which I find helpful as a lot of the "official" brochure pics can sometimes be misleading!
hotels I've always booked myself directly online. just be sure to find out what their payment terms are. some will charge full payment upfront, others will take nothing (all payable at check out) and some will take a deposit then charge the balance a week or few days prior to check in. we got burned overseas by a hotel in New Orleans that did this and it almost maxed our credit card out. very annoying when you're traveling and your card declines and you have no idea why!!
after books everything online myself, I'll always have all tax invoices/confirmation emails etc on one special travel folder in my gmail so if I need to find something in a hurry, I know exactly where to look. I also print everything out as a hard copy back up (handy in places like Cuba with virtually no internet access) and have a folder so everything is with me in one place should we need it. maybe I'm really anal but it helped me feel organized.
just doing your research and asking around for friends/family's advice/experiences is best I find too. we got some terrific recommendations for activities to do through tour providers we'd never have found on our own otherwise so definitely ask around and listen to what others have to say.
if also really do my research about areas to stay in (like what's safe, what's unsafe etc) for your accommodation. I'd hate to be staying in a dive part of town and feeling scared. things like this can be easily avoided by doing your homework and you'll enjoy the trip more of you feel safe where you stay.
airbnb is a great alternative to hotels and can save you money.
can't think of anything else right now!
whereabouts are you off to?
13-12-2015 13:33 #4
as per teenie's post, I'd definitely start with flights. departure date from Australia and return date. then work out how many places you want to visit (countries/cities/etc) and how much time you have in each. I'd then start looking at flights/transfers between each destination. some smaller islands we visited in the Caribbean didn't offer daily flights so our time there was dictated by what flights we could get. factor in travel time between each destination too.
then work out accommodation in each destination.
finally, I'd worry about activities etc to do at each place.
there might be some overlap in the order of planning things, ie: if you're going to a destination for a particular event then you'll want to ensure you can get there for the specific dates and can get accommodation there during that time.
it can be overwhelming but just have a list/rough itinerary on a piece of paper next to you and tick things off as you book them.
once the big stuff is locked in, you'll feel much more organized and can work out the smaller stuff (day to day itineraries, bars/restaurants to visit at each destination etc)
13-12-2015 13:36 #5
Self planning OS trip
Yep I never use travel agents, as pp said do heaps of research and I used trip adviser a lot! Expedia and hotels.com are great for booking hotels - get their prices then check with the hotel direct and see who has the best deal ( remember to make sure the final price includes all taxes) just make sure you re confirm everything , upon booking, 30 days prior to going and the day before you leave just email and call at least once to make sure your booking is confirmed , same with flights
Take hard copies of all tickets and booking confirmations plus scan them all and email yourself so you have them on your phone or can access them via your email wherever you are
13-12-2015 13:38 #6
@turquoisecoast, heading to Vegas, LA, Sanfran and Sandiago unless i find another place i want to go to. This is for my 30th birthday in March. Handing my leave form in for work tomorrow so i can start the process now of booking etc so i am organised.
13-12-2015 13:40 #7
Oh yay! I've done vegas and LA a few times - america is easy to book on your own - it's cheap to fly between those places and the drive to Vegas from LA is only 4 ish hours if you want to hire a car
13-12-2015 13:47 #8
I'd definitely book a trip like that myself. travel agents don't use all available airlines so you'll be limited to using what they offer you. my parents used a TA to book their trip for our overseas wedding and they had some stupid flights and really long layovers whereas I booked everything myself from us landing in Miami and we had no long layovers (nothing over 3 hours anyway). you have much more control over the whole process when you do it yourself. plus you can choose whichever airline gives you the best deal. not be limited into using the airlines the TA use.
the trip sounds amazing! have fun planning it and even more fun on it!!!
13-12-2015 13:49 #9-
- Join Date
- Dec 2015
Qantas and Virgin both have a sale on at the moment for your dates - $900-$1000 return to LA from Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne so I would definitely look at getting your international flights booked in now.
Southwest is a great domestic airline to use in the USA - they include checked baggage, which is great because most of the other's don't.
I did a very similar trip to you - we flew straight to Las Vegas as our first stop, had ~4 days there and then flew to San Francisco for 4 days. Picked up a car in San Francisco and drove down the coast to San Diego over 3 days. Then drove back to LA (stayed in Anaheim) and had ~6 days there to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Start having a look at hotels in each of the cities that you're looking at as well as things that you'd like to do.
Domestic flights and car hire will be easy to organise as well.
You'll have a blast!
13-12-2015 13:55 #10
I dont drive so all flying/bus/train whatever way to get around. I am gonna bus from la to vegas just coz its cheaper and will see surrounding areas.
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