Travel Planner’s Toolbox

Thank you for taking the time to join us at Living la Vida Global. This Travel Planner’s Toolbox includes a whole bunch of bits and pieces that we have collected or designed that help us when putting together an itinerary.

Please Bookmark this page as we will be adding new content regularly.

 

So, what’s in this Toolbox?

  • Some of our favourite travel planning blog posts from La Vida Global and other great bloggers.
  • Details of the bloggers that we regularly read to inspire us to continue traveling.
  • Links for our go to booking and planning websites.
  • Tips on how to get the most from a Travel Agent
  • How to create a successful road trip itinerary.

Travel planning blog posts worth reading

Is too much travel planning ever enough? – Living la Vida Global

When it comes to travel planning there are those among us that create spreadsheets. Not just the basic “which city on which day” type of thing, but broken up in to fifteen minute blocks to ensure ultimate time efficiency during the trip.
And then there are those who only book the first night’s accommodation, or maybe not even that, and just move as the mood takes them.

12 years of family travel, the lessons learned – Living la Vida Global

I feel it is a good time to impart a little wisdom gathered from our experiences, the lessons learned along the way. For anybody just beginning the family travel adventure, or maybe even part way through and hoping for a little advice on how to avoid some of the “learning experiences” we had.

How to use Pinterest for travel planning – Traveling nine to fiver

There is no better access point to thousands of articles written by travelers and locals alike. Using Pinterest for travel planning can help get any trip started on the right foot.

How to plan a trip – Postcards and Passports

Planning a trip is a lot easier if you break it down into simple tasks.  The process of making reservations, booking tickets, and preparing to leave, lends itself well to a series of tasks in a specific order.

How to create a custom itinerary map – We took the road less traveled

In my planning arsenal, Google Maps has been infinitely helpful in facilitating touring strategy maps and jumping off points to get the most out of our time in a new city.

17 easy steps for planning your next trip – Nomadic Matt

Planning a long trip can be a daunting task. Where do you begin? What’s step one? What’s step two? What’s step three? It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning, especially when you haven’t done something like this before.

 

Bloggers who inspire us to keep traveling

A hole in my shoe – Lyn and Steve

We are Lyn and Steve, a couple from Perth, Western Australia who married and began to travel at 50.  We’re putting our relationship to the test, travelling, adventuring and eating our way through life…  We have travelled to 16 countries in 2 years and plan on seeing as much as we can of this beautiful world we live in.

Lyn and Steve are our travel doppelgangers. Similar travel styles, interests, we even created an almost identical European Christmas itinerary once.


A Brit and a Southerner – Chris and Heather

Traveling has long been a passion for both of us and being able to share our experiences with all of you really enhances our overall experience. We hope that after reading some of our stories, checking out our pictures and following us on our social media accounts, you will be inspired to travel this amazing world that we all live in.

This blog was probably the first I followed when I decided to start writing. Great inspiration showing what can be achieved even if you only have weekends to travel.


Make time to see the world – Vicki and Gavin

Hi! I’m Vicki, a UK law graduate who has taken the long route to a regular 9 to 5 job in her field. Originally from a small town outside Manchester in the UK, I settled in Melbourne, Australia after 4 years traveling around the world.

Vicki’s catchphrase of “Because life is not meant to be lived in one place” echos our feelings exactly.


Traveling Nine to Fiver – Megan MacNee

By day, I am a government affairs professional in Sacramento, California. This blog instead will be for all of us who only get ten or so vacation days a year. How you can make the best of them by not just thinking about budgeting your money but budgeting your time.

Megan thinks the same way that we do. That limited vacation time should be put to the best possible use.


Postcards and Passports – Tami Wilcox

Exploring new places has always been my passion. Doesn’t matter if it’s a medieval village in France or the new cafe down the street–the more variety the better! Travel brings new places and experiences into my life. That’s why I love it!

Tami is always looking for new adventures for her family, the same way we always have.


Casual Travelist – Brianna

I am a travel writer and blogger balancing my love of travel with a full time career. I prefer laid back luxury where the focus is on the experience and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. This blog is dedicated to having great travel experiences and making the most of your limited time to travel.

Brianna writes about a lot of truly inspiring places. Her stories certainly make us want to get away more.


Contented Traveller – Gordon and Paula

We are Experiential Travellers and Influencers. We love experiencing a country, city or place by connecting to its history, people and culture. We know that today’s traveller seeks experiences, because that it what we also do. We are independent-minded and capable of organizing our own travels and hope to inspire and assist you to do the same.

I love reading this blog and get value from almost every post. No wonder they win awards.


Mags on the move – Maggie

I consider myself fairly well traveled (outside of the Jungle Cruise) though I am by no means an expert.  Though, is anyone every really an expert?  I’ve been running Mags On The Move for almost 2 years now and it has taken me to some far off and fabulous places across the globe, but there is still much more to see!

Mags writes stories and opinions that can be provocative but are also quite funny. Her sarcastic take helps remind us that travel should always be fun.


The Trusted Traveller – Mick and Jen

A settled life just isn’t for us and making it as digital nomads is the ultimate dream which we are well on our way to achieving. But who knows what will happen next, we don’t, so you’ll have to stick around to find out…

Mick and Jen are a great inspiration to anyone who wants to work toward travelling full time. They are living the plan and telling great stories along the way.


Reflections Enroute – Corinne and Jim

An American couple living in Germany, and we make it our priority to travel as often as possible. Taking advantage of living in the center of Europe, we take weekend jaunts to new cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and other historical treasures visiting as many smaller destinations as we can.

Beautiful towns, great photos, delicious food and some good writing. How could you not be inspired to travel as you read through these posts?


 

Our “go to” booking and planning websites

The man in seat 61

Everything you could want to know about train travel is here no matter where in the world you are thinking of a rail journey. We have used this site a number of times to research travelling through Europe.

Seat Guru

Want to know more about the airline you just found a cheap flight with? Maybe you want to know which seats are good or bad for that big flight you have coming up. Anything about airlines, flights and seating can be found here as well as customer reviews.

Adioso

A great flight search site that gives a lot more flexibility in the searching including prices for a month or setting a return date in around a certain number of days after departure. They are building up the list of supported airlines but definitely worth trying out.

Momondo

Similar to Adioso but they now also include searching for car hire and hotels. Great flexible search options for flights.

Flight Network

A Canadian company that sells to people from other countries and sometimes has flight options and prices that I have not found elsewhere. They also have a Price Drop Protection policy which is interesting.

Secret Flying

The latest addition to my toolkit. Secret Flying finds the cheapest fares whether they are just bargains or even error fares. If you are able to travel whenever a great price comes up then this site could save you huge amounts of money.


Booking.com

A giant in the world of hotel booking sites. Our first choice when we are on the road trying to find a last minute option for that same night. Huge range of accommodation styles available.

Expedia

Arguably the biggest booking site on the Internet. Great range of products beyond just hotels including car hire, flights and even activities.

AirBnB

If you are staying a bit longer in one place, want something that you just can’t get from a Hotel, or just want a cheap bed in someone’s house then AirBnB is the site for you. We have had some amazing views for bargain prices through this site.


How to get the best out of a Travel Agent

Let me start by saying that Travel Agents are not paid particularly well, usually at the low end of the Retail wage rates, and generally do a lot of unpaid overtime to get things right for their clients, so treat them with respect and they can be a great asset to anyone planning and booking a trip.

First a couple of things you should NOT do to a Travel Agent…

  • do not ask them to help with an itinerary if you have no intention of booking anything with them. They are busy and want to do best by their clients so don’t waste their time.
  • do not place unrealistic demands on them and then be rude when they can not live up to those expectations. You are not their only client and every client’s holiday is important, so be a little patient.
  • do not make a personal attack on them if you have found something cheaper. They are probably not trying to rip you off and will probably try to convince their supplier to beat your price if you treat them with respect.

To get the best from an Agent…

  • Only deal with one that you trust and form a quick connection with. No spark means you will always be thinking they haven’t done the best thing for you.
  • Be friendly, be prepared for the consultation and be willing to listen. They have a lot to do so less time with idle chatter means more time to find exactly what you are looking for.
  • Give them a reasonable amount of time to prepare things for you and remind them calmly if they miss the deadline.
  • The commissions that hotels pay are quite low and airlines far worse than that. It is OK to ask for a discount but be reasonable. Never expect a discount on the quoted price of a flight, there is just no money to play with. However, if you are booking a large holiday package and particularly one that includes a tour with one of the major Coach Touring companies, then a couple of percent discount is worth asking for.
  • Listen to suggestions they make. They are not saying your idea was wrong but offering alternatives based on years of experience.
  • When you have booked ask them for some little bits of local knowledge, a great restaurant near your hotel, or the best time to see an exhibition at a gallery, little things that can add to the enjoyment of your trip.

I always went that extra mile for my clients that treated me well. A bit of kindness goes a long way and when that kindness is aimed at a person working on making some amazing travel memories for you, then is it well worth the effort.


How to create a successful trip itinerary

We have found that the best way to start a travel itinerary is to not start a travel itinerary, well not straight away at least.

We suggest the following steps be taken before you start trying to put together a day to day plan.

  • decide what is the main focus of the trip. Why are you going?
    there is no point putting together a beautifully scripted itinerary and then realising that you didn’t leave enough time to relax on the beach or in the snow, or whatever else you may have been determined to do.
    so work out the reason you are traveling and what is most important to get out of the trip.
  • write down any “non negotiables” for the trip.
    no matter how many of you are traveling, everyone should have the chance to include at least one essential ingredient to the trip. It might be a city, a restaurant, museum, show or even just a day at a certain place doing nothing.
    These are things that if, on your return, you had not done them you would feel like the trip was incomplete and were disappointed.
  • write down a list of “that would be great” items
    these are the things and places that would be fun to see and do but not as important as those things listed above.

The next thing to do is to grab a map and plot the “non negotiables” on it. Before you consider adding anything else to the plan get a feel for how much time is realistically needed to do these things.

You will then be able to work out where and when you could fit some of the other items in to the plan. Being careful not to overload the itinerary and take time away from the big items.


Points to remember when creating a road trip plan

  • while it may seem that 4 hours is plenty of time to drive that 200 mile distance to your next Hotel, the only way to stick to that schedule is to run the risk of missing out on potentially amazing things to see and do along the way.
    Our experience has showed us that you should almost double the expected time to allow for interesting stops and also those unscheduled pitstops that always come up during any road trip.
  • don’t drive every day, or more important, don’t change Hotels every day.
    Not only is it important for the driver to have a rest day but it can quickly get to the point where when you get home you feel like you didn’t have a vacation at all because you were always on the go.
    Everyone should stop and smell the roses now and then, otherwise it can feel just like a job.
  • don’t try to work the schedule in to 15 or 30 minute segments. You might feel that this level of structure will ensure things go smoothly but I can assure you nobody will enjoy the trip.
    as soon as you fall behind on the schedule you will stress, try to leave things out to catch up, and quickly forget why you are traveling.

Take a chill pill before you start your road trip planning. It’s not a race to see who can cover the most ground in the shortest time so why make it feel that way. Road tripping is currently my favourite type of travel. I love it because it gives me the freedom to stop when I want to stop, and where I want to stop.

To much planning removes the freedom that road trips should be all about.


Wrapping up

Thank you again for joining us a we try to live the global life. If you have any suggestions or comments on this toolbox please email to info@lavidaglobal.com