PACK A PUNCH FOR YOUR HOLIDAY
Where to go when the travel bug hits you
Research and text by Ayesha Reza Rafiq
A record 1.2 billion people travelled beyond their national borders in 2015 while a recent study conducted by Visa predicts a 35 percent growth in this number over the next decade, increasingly comprising adventure-hungry millennials.
With a plethora of websites offering everything from eye-popping discounts to travel planning and destination reviews, globetrotters no longer have to break the bank to live their travel dreams – they can travel the world on a shoestring budget!
If you’re seeking great deals on airfares to any-where in the world, Skyscanner is the place to go. The website enables you to compare prices across a desired period and highlights the cheapest days to fly while ‘Price Alerts’ (via email) helps you monitor flight charges. If you’re not particular about a location and simply want to ‘travel somewhere,’ Skyscanners’ Everywhere tool lists the cheapest flights from your airport in price order.
For travellers who are unfamiliar with their destination and don’t have the time for extensive online research, Utrip creates personalised itineraries to suit a traveller’s interests and budget. You simply enter your destination and travel dates, and choose from several categorised interests as the website generates a daily itinerary within moments.
If you love to travel but are the disorganised type, TripIt helps you keep track of your trip details in a central location. Bookings, confirmations, reservations, itineraries and so on can be stored online, shared with other contacts and synced to Google Calendar, which is especially useful for keeping everyone travelling as a group up to date. Seat upgrade notifications, reward points tracking and maps highlighting sightseeing must-dos on the itinerary are added bonuses.
For arguably the best deals on hotel bookings, Booking.com stands out for its user-friendly interface with the widest selection of hotels and other unique lodgings. The website rates highest for customer satisfaction across the board.
Airbnb meanwhile features private homes that are available for short-term rentals, often for far more competitive rates than hotels. Travellers can search for properties that suit their needs with several rentals featuring single rooms and even couches for budget travellers.
If you need a car while on holiday, CheapTickets is considered to be the best car rental site for the choice it offers. Customers can select pick up and drop off locations, specifications such as car seats, a GPS device and so on with results being filtered by price.
Expedia, a great site in itself for ease of use and discounts, is also a viable choice for planning a package vacation. Customers receive discounts when booking travel arrangements together in one package (such as flights, hotels and rental cars). Taxes and service charges are included in the cost so that users can assess their total savings in an instant.
TripAdvisor is every traveller’s go-to site for reviews on everything from flights, hotels and restaurants, to things to do and see in any location with the option of booking them onsite. It also offers tons of useful information, and tips and tricks from business travellers, experts and enthusiasts.
For last-minute travellers who want to be up and away as soon as the urge hits them but are looking for good deals, Priceline’s ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature permits users to bid for flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages. For those who don’t want to bid, the website’s PriceBreaker offers great discounts for last-minute bookings for a limited time.
And finally, PackPoint takes the stress out of the inevitable packing that every trip entails. The app helps create custom packing lists whether you’ll be working, hiking or travelling with the kids, as well as check the weather forecast and tell you if the umbrella or flip-flops should be taken along. Multiple lists can be saved and shared with others, which is extraordinarily useful for family trips when family members plan to do their own packing.
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