Sunday, 17 January 2016

Websites to consult when planning an adventure!

So, I recently planned a trip to Italy for £25, I am visiting Rome, Milan and Florence. £10 for a single flight to Milan, £1 for a megabus to Florence, and £1 for a megabus to Rome with a £13 flight home. A lot of my friends were amazed at this, and so I thought I'd share some tips on websites I consult when planning a trip. I hope you'll learn as I have that you don't have to have all the money in the world to travel, sometimes just the desire and a bucket of courage is enough!

If you find this helpful, please share the link and help me out!

PLANNING
Google Flights:
This gem is still unheard off by most travellers I speak to. Honestly, I swear by it. Screw skyscanner, this is the real deal. Essentially, you just enter the dates and departure/ arrival location and it will scan all the other websites to come up with the best deal. It was also give you 'tips' at the top such as 'leaving one day later could save you £x', or 'departing from Birmingham instead of Coventry will save you £x', it really feels like they want to help you have the cheapest trip possible. Of course, you can search by time of flight too, but as a student this is a less exciting aspect. When I have compared the results on several sites, google flights always presents the best deal.

My favourite part of it is that you don't even have to know where you want to go. By entering the dates you want to travel, you can then just click on the map and it will show where in the world you can go and for what price. It's a great way of decided where to take that cheap weekend trip. I mean, if you're brave enough just click 'I'm feeling lucky' and let the computer decide for you.

STA Travel:
Though I despised working for the company as a brand representative, and feel some things they do are a bit dodgy, it's a great place to get inspiration. When I'm planning a trip and am wandering what to do in each location, I tend to look at the trips they offer to get a sense of good strategic routes - after all, they have professionals pouring hours of research into what is the best way to go. Also, sometimes (I mean rarely), they do have cheaper flights than google flights - but only when they have a sale on honestly. Be warned though, for short distances they seriously rip you off - You can get a good return to Rio though for example.

TripLine:
http://www.tripline.net/ambermansfield
You'll see practically all of the trips I plan have an equivalent digital route on Tripline. It's a great way to may out your trip and see the most practical route to take. For example, while Bangkok to Pai is do-able, if you're using this website you might see a place you want to stop along the way for a break - Chiang Mai for instance.

TripAdvisor:
I always always use trip advisor to get a low-down on the most recommended places to visit in any location, I find it's always a pretty trusty guide. Of course sometimes it's best to just walk round and see what you come up against, but it gives you a good indication of how much there is to do in a city.

Citymaps:
I always use the app version, but regardless, this helps you to find all of the local restaurants and bars around you. It'll show you where the nearest pharmacy is, or Irish bar for example. You can check out other peoples reviews and leave your own - Unlike Tripadvisor it tends to have WAY more variety and allows you to choose places off the 'beaten track'.

TRANSPORT

Google Maps:
As mentioned previously, I use tripline to sort out the route - But I find google maps particularly good in some countries to tell when public transport is coming round. It's not very good on long distance journeys, but if you want to find out how to get from your Couchsurfing host house to the local pizza joint, then this is the perfect app to do so.


Uber:
www.uber.com/invite/uberscarlettmansfield (Or, download the app and use the promo doe 'uberscarlettmansfield')
This is a god send. Honestly, I don't know how I would have gotten around the USA without this. The public transportation network across the US is awful, but, thanks to uber it didn't matter. It's a low-cost alternative to a taxi. You can see how much it's roughly going to cost you before you get in so there's no nasty surprises and the driver can't take you on a wild goose-chase as you can see your vehicle moving towards your end-point on your phone.

The only down-side is that you need to have data or wi-fi. Given McDonalds have free-wifi though, and there's plenty of them, I tend to find this isn't really an issue. It's also a great way to get to and from airports - There are some restrictions in some places so you might have to walk out of the airport a big first to hail one. It's available in most of the key cities all over the world now! I know I'l be using it in Italy for sure.

Again, please use the above link if you want to sign up and you and I will both get money of our first booking! Help me out for all this great free advice haha.

BlaBlaCar:
This is a relatively new phenomena but honestly I think it's a great idea! It's best for local travel, to see around your country. Idea is, people going on long-distance journeys can reduce their costs by inviting others along for the ride at a fraction of the cost of a train for example. Sometimes it's across the border too though to France. Anyway to reduce travel costs is a great thing by my standards. It's available as an app for your phone too - so, get posting those journeys and spreading travel cheer.

Megabus:
Again, I used this in the USA to a huge advantage. I was able to book in advance and got every trip for $1USD! It was an amazing price-saver given the cost of grey-hound buses comparatively. And, as written above, I'm going through Italy for £2.50 as well. The trick is to wait for the new timetable to come out and buy as far in advance as possible. They have a certain amount of tickets in the US that they sell at $1, then from there they go up. By far the most cost-effective way to travel long-distances both in the US and across Europe.

ACCOMODATION
Air B'n'B:
www.airbnb.co.uk/c/scarlettm6?s=8
This is perfect for all you groups and couples out there! If you're looking for somewhere to stay as a group in particular, air b'n'b is great as it's far cheaper than hiring out a hostel room and you can have the whole house to yourself. It's a cheaper alternative to hotels for couples too with the freedom to cook to save money as well. I used it to secure a couch in Orlando as they had no hostels, there were no available hosts on couch-surfing and hotels were crazy expensive. I'm using it again next month on my trip to Rome with my best friend because the hostels around that time of year will be empty anyway so for the same price may as well have a 2-bedroom apartment to ourselves in the centre of the city!

Please use the above link and both you and I will get £14 off our next bookings! Your booking has to be over £53, but if you're doing more than one night in a location chances are it will be.

Couchsurfing:
So, I only began using this gem this summer when circumstances meant I winded up in Miami a day earlier than expected and with nowhere to stay and a lack of money. Initially I was very concerned about staying with someone for free, I mean, why would anyone want to offer that? When you meet members of the community you soon find out why - Everyone has a great free-love spirit and are eager to engage with the world. It's a cheap way to see the world and get advice from locals at the same time.


OTHER
Workaway:
For £20 you can register for a year of volunteering opportunities. The idea is, people all around the world offer you work, usually in return for free accommodation. The work really varies - From au' pairing kids, to working in a party hostel, to fixing houses or building eco-lodges. There are thousands of opportunities out there. I'm thinking of doing it this summer to cut costs while I research. You don't need an account to look at the opportunities, so you can scout out what you'd like to do before paying the £20 fee. From Thailand to Las Vegas, there's chances all over the world.

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