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Six steps to plan the perfect vacation

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Tips and tricks to plan a perfect vacation yourself using online tools. This topic was presented by Mohammad Hijazi at the JCI Lebanon's 9th National Convention "Unbalance Your Life" with an audience of more than 80 people.

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Six steps to plan the perfect vacation

  1. 1. Six Steps to Plan the Perfect Vacation Mohammad Hijazi | @mhijazi @mhijazi89
  2. 2. Why is it better to Plan your Vacation by yourself? • Tailored in details to your own preference • Gets you more involved • Fun to prepare • Cheaper
  3. 3. Steps to your Getaway… • Step 1: Deciding on your destination • Step 2: Flight booking • Step 3: Hotel booking • Step 4: Inter-city and in-city transportation • Step 5: Getting familiar with your destination geographically (map map map!) • Step 6: Finding and deciding on top attractions, top restaurants and top wild night spots
  4. 4. STEP 1: Making a decision • Determine your interests: http://www.minube.net/ • Ask questions: http://www.trippy.com/ • Set your dates • Research unique vacations • Set your budget • Visa free countries? There’s a list for that: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki /Visa_requirements_for_Leban ese_citizens
  5. 5. Step 2: Flight booking Best websites to book cheap tickets from: • www.momondo.com • www.cheapoair.com • www.Travelocity.com • www.expedia.com • www.edreams.com • www.kayak.com (always search in incognito mode) When using these websites filter by: 1) Least number of stops 2) Shortest duration 3) Lowest price 4) Good airlines However, an agency could be contacted at an early stage to book an unconfirmed ticket just in case any change in the dates occurs. Later on, this ticket could be cancelled and booked online using the above websites with a lower price.
  6. 6. Step 2: Flight booking tips • Try to stick to one airline alliance for all your trips and claim your travelled miles with one of their airlines. • Sometimes it's worth it to mix and match especially from the same alliance. Most airlines now sell one-way flights at reasonable prices, meaning one might be cheaper for the outbound flight while the other works better for the return. • You could even fly to one airport and depart from another.
  7. 7. Step 2: Flight booking tips • On international flights, book window seats so you can rest your head on the bulkhead. • Book seats close to the front so you can beat everyone to the passport control line. Also, you will get your food first.
  8. 8. Step 2: Best times to book • Leave on a Wednesday: It's the cheapest day to do it, says FareCompare.com. Per the website: "The day with the most seats is likely to have better supply, and thus ... more empty seats that require discounting to fill the plane— meaning they'll have to release more seats at their cheapest price point." • Book Six Weeks in Advance: A revealing study from Airlines Reporting Corporation found that the best time to purchase your airfare is about six weeks prior to travel. The reason: Around this time, prices drop below the average fare.
  9. 9. Step 3: Hotel Booking Tips Best websites to book cheap stays: • www.hotels.com • www.booking.com • www.momondo.com • www.travelrepublic.co.uk • www.trivago.com When using these websites filter by: • Distance to city center • Cancellation option • Price before and after cancellation • Stars (1 – 5) • Rating (1 – 10) • Whether a bus station or any other form of transportation is next to the hotel
  10. 10. Step 3: Hotel Booking Tips • Choose a selection of Hotels and pick a few based on the criteria mentioned in the previous slide. • Use Google maps to see the Hotels chosen and check for any bus station next to them. • Book a room with a free cancellation option (even if the price was higher than booking it without this option). Later on, this booking can be cancelled when the whole trip is 100% confirmed and another room without the cancellation option is booked instead in order to benefit from the lower price. • Book several “free cancellation” hotels and decide which hotel you want a few days before your trip to better accommodate your itinerary. • Book business hotels on weekends and summer, prices are usually cheap because demand is low. • Ask for a corner room because it is usually bigger and quieter than regular rooms. • Sign up for a hotel’s loyalty program and try to book hotels with their chain if you can to get rewards. • You can usually find coupon codes for hotels on Coupons.com and DealIsPlus.com
  11. 11. Step 3: Other options • Airbnb: Find local short-term accommodations. Travelers can choose a wide range of shared rooms, private rooms and entire apartments or houses. • Tripping is platform that connects travelers with locals who are renting out their homes around the world. There are over 750,000 rental spaces ranging from luxurious penthouses to rustic beachside stays. • Hotel Tonight: For last- minute lodging deals, a free mobile app available on iOS andAndroid devices. • Hostels.com allows you to book a bed in a shared room at hostels in 180 countries. • Couchsurf for free with people who share their homes, cities and lives in profound and meaningful ways, making travel anywhere in the world a truly social experience. (Couchsurfing.org)
  12. 12. Step 4: Intercity and in City transportation • Inter-city transportation: • Airport – Hotel transportation • Hotel – Hotel transportation (when visiting more than one City in the same Country) • In-City transportation: • Hotel – Restaurants • Hotel – Beach • Hotel – Night Spots • Hotel – Attractions (Museums, Churches, Mosques, Historical areas, etc..)
  13. 13. Step 4: Intercity and in City transportation
  14. 14. Step 4: Intercity and in City transportation Types of transportation forms to consider when on vacation: • Uber: Using Uber application on mobile or using their website: www.uber.com. Other similar services include Lyft, Sidecar and Careem. • Taxi: Ordering a taxi could be done from the Hotel or online depending on the destination. • Public bus: Google search the public bus schedule and routes based on the destination. • Metro/Train/Subway: Google search the train stations schedule and routes based on the destination. Most cities have their own metro/train apps. • Rent a car: Google search rental companies based on the destination. • Internal flights: Big countries such as US, Canada and India have many airports and many times internal flights are cheaper than land transport.
  15. 15. Step 5: Getting familiar with your destination geographically Getting familiar with the area geographically helps a lot in having a sense of direction when you reach your destination This will definitely save a lot of time! The best way to do that is by using: GOOGLE MAPS!
  16. 16. Step 5: Getting familiar with your destination geographically Use of Google maps: • City Center area with respect to the Hotel • Bus and Metro stations • Distance from the Hotel to our targets (attractions, restaurants, shopping centers, pubs and night clubs) • Star all the locations that you want visit. This will help you cluster nearby attractions together in the same day.
  17. 17. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots The best way to find and decide on top attractions, restaurants, shopping centers and night spots to visit, is through word of mouth and performing a good search online. Contacting a person who lives in the Country you are planning to visit for the first time is a very reliable source as well. Even more reliable than what you can find online. • What are the major attractions? • What would a tourist most likely won't want to miss? • Where is it crowded the most in down-town?
  18. 18. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots The internet is the second reliable source to find places to go to as you can always find people’s feedbacks and reviews… First, always search for a schedule of events and festivals that are occurring during the days of your stay at the chosen destination. Also, visit the local tourism office (usually in the airport or at main train stations). They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. Use this resource.
  19. 19. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots Second, find out what Google lists as top 10 attractions, restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs at the targeted destination and make a list of each. These are the websites that could be used: • www.viator.com • www.getyourguide.com • www.expedia.com • www.visitacity.com • www.tripadvisor.com • www.passeportmtl.com
  20. 20. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots Third, use social media (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc…) to check out the lists made by searching online through: • Watching live videos of prior year festivals that are interesting to attend at your time of visit. • Watching live videos of parties in the chosen night spots. • Reading people’s comments and reviews of chosen restaurants and attractions. • Check out blogs, YouTube, TripAdviser and Forsquare.
  21. 21. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots Look for deals: • Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial & Yipit provide you with great discounts on many touristic attractions and tour. • Most big cities have city passes or museum passes where they give great discounts for a bundle of sightseeing spots. Examples: CityPass.com, Go City Card, etc…
  22. 22. Step 6: Attractions, restaurants and wild night spots Check out these apps that help you make a plan.
  23. 23. More tips: • Always have a scan of your passport, visas and important documents in your email and Dropbox folder in case you lose them or they get stolen. • Don’t exchange money at the airport or hotels, ever! • To manage who paid what when you’re travelling in a group, download the Tricount app for your phone. • Always get behind business travelers when in security lines. They move fast. Try to keep up. Never get behind families. They take forever. It’s not their fault; they just have a lot of stuff. • Research the SIM cards available in each country beforehand. Many times you can order them online directly to your hotel. • Take pictures of your luggage and clothes. If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you. • Take earplugs. Snorers and noise are everywhere and you need your sleep. • Tell your bank you’re travelling so your card doesn’t get rejected.
  24. 24. Where are you off to next? Mohammad Hijazi | @mhijazi @mhijazi89

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