Let me tell you about the best ways to book any trip in general. What the tricks are and how to avoid potential problems that you may not be aware of.
First of all, I’d like to recommend Rome 2 Rio to you . You can enter any address on the planet and you are shown all the possible travel options. It shows estimated travel time and potential costs of trip. You can go directly to pages where you can buy ticket for train, bus, plane or even ferry from there. I find it very useful and I strongly recommend you check it out.
You may discover more options that you would never think about yourself. For example, departing from or arriving into a different airport, or via train and bus as a combined option, which is more tedious but likely much cheaper. There are places in the world that you have never heard about and that you probably would never go to if it wasn’t for a poker festival. In this case this website can become your best friend!
There are many services for hotel booking. You always can go to the hotel’s website directly and book a room as I’ve mentioned before although in the majority of cases, this option is not going to be the cheapest. You can also not bother booking in advance and instead find a random hotel when you arrive in the city. Expect this option to be the most expensive one plus it gives you a more limited choice or in the worst case, you may find the hotel is fully booked for the duration of your stay. This is why it is important to book a room in advance.
What do I use? Basically, I use just three services: booking.com, airbnb and hotelscombined.
In my opinion, booking.com is the most convenient way of finding a hotel because you can find almost any hotel, hostel, villa etc. in the world.
When you book your stay for the first time through booking.com, please make sure that you register for an account and use it for all future trips. You will receive Genius status after the first five trips, which gives you access to cheaper deals and some other privileges such as early check-in, late check-out and so on.
I always check options at booking first and then double check it against the offers at hotelscombined.com . This service compares different hotel aggregators and displays the best deals. Sometimes, you can find an option that is few times cheaper than one shown on booking.com.
Airbnb is a service for booking apartments; this can be the cheapest and sometimes the most convenient option, especially if you like to cook at home. This is also the best solution when you travel together with friends. You can either book a full apartment or just a single room.
What to keep in mind when booking hotel
The most convenient way is to book hotel where tournament is held or the closest one to the tournament’s venue. However, this is often one of the most expensive options. Booking a hotel 2-3 kilometres away should be way cheaper. Moreover, booking a hotel slightly further away from the tournament’s location means you are going to see the new city and you are not forced to spend all the time at the poker table. Additionally, walking is good for health as well.
Be aware, however, that this is not the case 100 percent of time. While trying to save some money you can sometimes find yourself on the outskirts of the city and the money spent daily for a return taxi trip might be more than the amount you saved by booking a cheaper option. It is not pleasant experience spending 30 to 60 minutes every day stuck in traffic.
Another very important factor is where your hotel is located; I have been afraid of going out from my room a couple of times. Check out reviews of the area on Google or try to find people who live in the city to see if the area you’re staying in is a safe one.
You should always book as early as possible. Discounts on bookings made in advance are common. The later you leave it to book a hotel or room, the less options you will have available to you and the risk of paying over the odds increase.
If you don’t know your exact dates in advance, or fear you may have to cancel your trip, book accommodation with a cancellation policy. In the worst case scenario, the property will charge you for the first night price, but you are usually able to cancel your booking and receive a full refund at any time before the deadline.
If you are 100 percent certain your trip is going ahead, I would recommend booking a hotel with no cancellation policy. In this case it should be cheaper, although you will have to pay full amount even if you don’t arrive at the hotel. Doing this should see savings of 20-30 percent compared to bookings with a cancellation option.
I would say that booking flights is the most difficult stage of trip planning. The only way to become good at it is to get an experience. There are many possible problems that are hidden. I would try to help you with it.
Booking flights directly at the airline’s website is not usually the cheapest option. The two main services I use are skyscanner and momondo. You should simply compare prices at skyscanner and momondo and choose cheaper option.
Travel tricks and secrets
- Currency you pay in. If you are located in the USA and trying to book a flight then you are going to pay in US Dollars. If you are located in France or Spain then you are going to pay in Euros and in Polish Zloty if in Poland. You can avoid exchange fees by changing your country in the settings at skyscanner or by changing your language at momondo.
- Be more flexible. If you don’t like the price of tickets, try to change your departure or arrival dates. Sometimes money you save by doing this will let you pay for longer hotel stay.
- Flying one-way? Check the price for return ticket as well because it may be cheaper than one-way flight. This is weird but this is how it works. You don’t have to use your return flight obviously.
- Don’t use your connecting flight. Let’s say you are going to fly from Moscow to Warsaw. It might be less expensive to purchase a Moscow – Warsaw – Paris flight than simply Moscow – Warsaw. Just book a flight from Moscow to Paris with a connection in Warsaw and leave airport there. Don’t forget to tell the airline representative at check-in that you need to collect your baggage at connection airport otherwise your bags will travel to the final destination.
- Segments. Let’s say you found a ticket from Moscow – Warsaw – Paris but you are located in Warsaw and would like to fly from there to Paris. You won’t be allowed to board the plane in Warsaw with that ticket. This is because this ticket consists of two segments: One is Moscow to Warsaw and the other is Warsaw to Paris.
- Connections. You may be surprised to discover you only have 30-minutes connection time between your flights. Don’t worry, you won’t miss boarding plane. Even if you do, if it wasn’t your fault, the airline will help you. You are either going to fly on the very next flight or receive compensation. This isn’t the case for self-transfers though.
- Check transfer options. Always check the distance between your hotel and airport because you could end up spending the money you saved on cheap flights on a taxi or shuttle to your hotel.
- Is baggage included? Check that your ticket includes a checked-in bag if you are planning to take one. You can usually add a checked-in bag later, but some airlines charge a large fee for this after the ticket is booked.
- Long layovers. Some flights include a 24-hour or more connection time. While this option may be exhausting, it can also be a great way to discover a new city along the way.
- Be wary of low cost airlines. Flight delays and flight cancellations are common. You always have to pay extra for baggage, and need to check-in and print your boarding passes at home. They will force you to pay big penalties for an additional kilogram of baggage or for the food at the plane. Don’t be surprised when you realise that you seat is not adjustable at all.
- Complimentary bonuses. You can sometimes receive a free hotel stay or a free excursion when you fly with certain airlines. Check the terms and conditions of your ticket and claim any bonus you are eligible for.
Finally, make sure that you don’t need a Visa before paying for a flight. Some countries will not even allow you out of the airport with the relevant Visa or paperwork. You can check if you need a Visa by heading to this link.
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