How to plan a trip abroad

So, you’ve decided where you’d like to go but don’t know where and how to get started.

The world wide web is at your fingertips. You want use google or any other search engine of your choice to learn more about the country, it’s history and the key tourist attractions. Alternatively, purchase a travel book from stores like Exclusive Books or CNA, which contain the key information required. Search for travel blogs online, or access Youtube videos, or ask a friend whose been. At this point, you may even decide to call a travel agent. Persevere. It’s not that bad.😊

Once you have an idea of what you’d like to see and do, you can plan your route, the number of days you wish to spend in each country/city and research multiple flight options. For this we use websites like www.expedia.com and more recently www.travelstart.co.za. I find having a copy of the map most useful as I plan.

Now, it’s time to get a spreadsheet going. So fire up your laptop and open an excel workbook. Either you travelling between countries, in which case you need to price the cost of trains and internal flights, or you travelling across cities in a specific country. Once you price the different options, you may decide that it is more feasible to enter via another country or city for that matter. Please bear in mind that you are not bound to enter and exit via the same city / country. It may cost you slightly more, if anything, but often you saving on the cost of an internal flight or train ride to return to the country of entry.

Travel tip:

  • When searching online to enter and exit via different cities, select multiple destinations.

If the return flights are with one airline, we always compare pricing on aggregator sites with the direct websites.

Travel tip:

  • Always check to see if the loyalty programs you belong to provide you with discounts, and preferential rates.
  • You may have airmiles, or loyalty points that you can redeem against flights or hotels.

You want to do a quick check on hotel rates for the days you will be in each city. Once, I was trying to book a hotel in a country that was hosting a marathon. Can you imagine the rates? I ended up changing my route. Here we use www.booking.com, or alternatively book directly with the hotel.

Travel tip:

  • We often find that beach holidays are more affordable when booked with a travel agent running specials like Pentravel or Thompsons Travel.
  • For bush / safari specials, we generally use Bushbreaks, Krugerpark.com, and mtbeds.

Once you have completed the costing, you may want to compare this against a travel agent’s quote.

Ok, so you almost there. Just one more consideration.

South Africans require a VISA for most countries, like the US, UK, etc. For Europe as an example, your route/itinerary has a direct impact on which Embassy you need to make an application for a VISA.

Travel tip:

  • Sometimes we deliberately enter via a certain country, especially when travelling to Europe, so we can make an application at the Embassy located in our city or close to our work.
  • Most Embassy’s require that you confirm all travel arrangements before making an appointment. Start early with your VISA process, and way ahead of your travel dates.

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