Planning to take a well deserved break anytime soon? Check out these step-by step tips to make your holiday a better one.
1. How to decide where to go
Everyone travels for different reasons. Tripbase, a free service will generate personalized recommendations on where to go based on what you like. For example if you tell Tripbase you like nature a lot, but you still want to do some decent shopping, it will show you destinations which offer that mix. It also gives you more details, travel articles and photos of the recommended cities so you can pick a city which best suits you.
2. How to find the best attractions
Once you’ve picked your destination, check out WikiTravel, the definitive travel Wiki, where you’ll be able to get free travel guides to your destination. While this will equip you with some basic knowledge of a destination, you can pick out hidden gems of things to do and places to visit by going to travel social networks such as 43 places. There you can find photos and read personal experiences of people traveled to your destination. You can also ask questions, and they will be answered from members of the community which have visited the location you’re asking about.
3. How to best plan the trip
So many things to keep track off, and so little time. With today’s myriad of travel sites, even the most experienced traveler has their hands full managing all the details of a typical trip. Booking airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and restaurants leaves you with lots of separate pieces of paper. Throw in maps, directions, things to do, and weather and the chaos multiplies.
TripIt turns chaos into order by making it easy for anyone to:
- Organize trip details into one master online itinerary — even if arrangements are booked at multiple travel sites
- Automatically include maps, directions and weather in their master itinerary
- Have the option to book restaurants, theatre tickets, activities and more right from within the online itinerary
- Safely access travel plans online, share them, check-in for flights, or print an itinerary
The best part – you just forward the travel confirmation (transport/hotel/restaurant etc.) emails to TripIt, and if it’s from one hundreds of partner sites, it will handle the rest automatically!
4. How to get the best airline deals
There are plenty of airline sites out there which claim to be the best place to book your tickets online, whether it be Farecast which lets you predict prices, where you can find out if the lowest fare for a trip is rising or dropping over the next 7 days, or Kayak, which easily lets you compare prices and book easily.
However, if you truly want a nugget of an airline planning resource, check out Probargainunter’s excellent post on how to buy cheap airline tickets detailing the best in travel search engines, online booking services, and travel deal sites.
5. How to get the best hotels
My favorite hotel review site has long been tripadvisor, where it houses a huge database of user reviews for just about any hotel you can think of, and help you find highly rated hotels within your price range.
However, there are now a few sites like tvtrip, and tripr.tv which actually provide video reviews of hotels. This prevents you from being deceived by unscrupulous hotels which put up a few well taken photos at nice angles, only to be unpleasantly surprised when you actually get there.
Alternatively you could just forgo price altogether and just settle in the best geek hotels in the world :)
6. How to pick the best time to convert foreign currency
Pick the right time to convert your foreign currency and you could save a bundle. Have a look at what the currency trends are like at forexrate so you can make an educated decision whether to wait, or convert foreign currency now.
7. How to pack well
Personally, I have a list of basic items to bring on a trip which I store on my PC. Whenever I need to go somewhere, I just open it up, add to it if I need to, and print it out. That way I can pack everything I need in mere minutes. The list also doubles as a checklist to ensure I don’t leave anything behind in the hotel.
There are also some people who have taken packing to an art. OneBag and Travelite are perhaps some of the packing resources out there covering everything from packing techniques to luggage lightening suggestions.
Also available is the Universal Packing List which helps you automate your packing list based on your trip details.
8. How to get the best seats on the plane
Just because you’re in the economy section, doesn’t mean you have to settle for a bad seat. Check out SeatGuru or SeatExpert which will give you the lowdown on which seats to pick and which seats to avoid on any airline. You’ll also get an idea of what to expect in terms of amenities on the plane from power, entertainment, seat width and how far you an lean back.
9. How to use Airport Wifi with more peace of mind.
Public wifi may not be the safest thing you could use. Here’s a great tip on how to ensure your Gmail session is secure.
10. How to stay healthy on the plane
There are quite a number of steps you can take to make sure you stay healthy on your trip. For example:
- Wear shoes that can loosen should your feet swell during your trip
- Anti-histamines and decongestants can add to the dehydration you experience with air travel. Make sure you increase your water intake if you are taking these medications.
- Eating will keep your energy up, your blood sugar normalized and you won’t be fighting a growling stomach to sleep
Check out WikiHow’s full list on how to stay healthy on a plane
11. How to ensure your laptop travels well
Laptops are not the most. Check out Chris Pirillo’s top tips to keep your notebook safe while traveling. Here are some of my favorites from that list:
- Document Identifying Information: In case your laptop does end up lost or stolen, you should be able to provide detailed information about the make, model, serial number and any other identifying information. You may need the information to file a claim with the airline or your insurance company, or to provide law enforcement.
- Use a BIOS Password: Protecting your laptop with an operating system login and password is a good idea, but there are ways to circumvent that protection and gain access to the data still. For better protection, you should enable password protection at the BIOS level so that the laptop can not even be turned on without the correct password.
- Use Portable Storage: To make sure you have the business critical PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet that you need to show your business partners in order to seal the multi-million dollar deal (or whatever other important files and documents might be on your laptp) you should carry a copy on a USB thumb drive or some other type of portable storage that you can carry separate from the laptop in case it becomes lost or stolen.
12. How to read your Gmail and RSS feeds on the plane
Why rely on In-flight entertainment, when you can bring your own? Google Gears allows you offline access to your Gmail and Google RSS reader articles, any re-syncs it when you get online again. Perfect for getting things done on a plane.
13. How to put public transport information on your phone
Metro is a free guide to public transport systems worldwide which can be put on smartphones for easy reference. It currently covers over 400 cities and supports all major smartphones (Symbian, PocketPC, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone etc). This awesome piece of freeware also calculates routes and estimates time of arrival so you can plan your routes to perfection.
14. How to locate any ATM in the world
Being in need of cash in a foreign country can be very daunting. Visa’s ATM locator does a great job of giving you all the locations of ATM machines from anywhere in the world. Just type in your city, and it will give you a list to choose from. You can also filter the list by 24 hour ATMs just in case you’re in need of the cash at odd hours.
15. How to quickly pick up a foreign language
Spending a few minutes to learn a few keywords in another language can make all the difference in the world. Most cultures appreciate that you try to speak their language, so swing by Fodor’s free language guides and print out a few cheat sheets to bring with you on your trip.
16. How to make the most of your iPhone on a trip
Have an iPhone? Make the most of it by trying out some of the free made for travel apps being offered. This covers everything from currency calculators, maps, and language lessons.
17. How to share your trip once you return
Once you’re back, here’s how you can share your trip. TripnTale allows you to upload unlimited photos and videos so you can share them with your friends. It also allows you to import videos from YouTube and photos from Facebook and Flickr so you can assemble your entire trip in one location.
18. How to remove unwanted tourists from photos
Tourist Remover removes unwanted objects from your photos such as tourists or passing cars. Take multiple photos from the same scene and the ‘Tourist Remover’ blends them into a composite photo without any interfering elements.