Trip Planning for Beginners

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Trip Planning for Beginners

The purpose of this post is to give travel planning tips to people that may be new to setting up a travel itinerary. How to set-up your travel plan without using travel agents. This post may also be beneficial to the seasoned traveler as a refresher after time away from traveling. It will be impossible to cover every detail to look out for as people have different situations, but hopefully we have captured the most important.

This post will mainly focus on booking flights and booking hotels.

Flight Booking

Hotel Booking

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The first tip before we jump into the main categories is to book your flights before booking your hotel. Make sure you can get a flight for your expected arrival date before booking the hotel. Your hotel may also offer shuttle service from the airport to hotel and may ask for your flight details during the reservation process. You can always give those details to the hotel later, but it is easier to do it at the time of booking.

Second, ensure your passport (if required) is valid for your dates of travel. Make sure your passport has enough validity time for your destination. Some countries may require your passport be valid for several months on arrival even if you plan to depart before the passport expiration date. Also make sure you have enough blank space in your passport for entry and exit stamps.

Flight Booking

Cancellation Policy

Be aware of the cancellation policy of the ticket you are booking. Cancellation policies can vary between airlines and tickets purchased. Some airlines or basic tickets may have a no cancellation policy in which case you don’t receive a refund or a credit on your account with that carrier. If your travel plans could change you it may be worth purchasing a more expensive ticket that allows for flexible travel or refunds. Cancellation policies can change depending on the current market and competition for flyers!

Direct or Connecting Flights

When you are planning your travel, you may need to or have the option to book connecting flights. Connecting flights may be necessary if there are no direct flights from your travel points. Connecting flights may be preferred as they may bring your flight cost down and you have time for it.

In the case that you are booking connecting flights make sure you have enough time between flights to get to the new departure gate. Airlines generally don’t set-up itinerary’s that will have you miss flight connections if all is on schedule, but always good to do your own research! Consider the time of year you are traveling and if weather could be an issue.

When planning travel with multiple connections, it is usually best to keep them all on the same itinerary(book all through 1 airline website). Booking flights separately on different airlines will make you accountable for any missed flights. If you miss a connecting flight on your itinerary due to a flight delay, the airline you booked with will book you on a new flight. If you do book flights on separate itinerary’s, take into account the time it takes collecting any checked baggage from one airline and checking it with the second airline.

Seat Choice

Some airlines or some tickets may allow you to choose your seat in advance. Others may offer general boarding only. Seat choice may not matter to you, but does of others. Seat choice is generally important to parties traveling with children, tall people, large people, people with physical disabilities, and elderly. If seat choice is important to you be aware if the ticket or airline you are booking with allows it.

Frequent Flyer or Mileage Programs

When booking flights, you may want to consider frequent flyer or mileage programs available if you plan to travel regularly. Airlines and some credit card companies offer programs with rewards for travel. If you travel often enough some of the programs may be worth looking into. The programs may offer perks like airport lounge access, discounted or free flights, extra leg room seats, flight class upgrades, increased baggage allowance and more!

When choosing a rewards program you should consider your expected future flight plans and the airlines that service those destinations. You should also consider any annual fees or if the miles/points expire.

Arrival Time

The last flight booking consideration we will cover in this post is arrival time. When booking your flights, keep in mind the arrival time at your destination. If you are changing time zones, depending on time differences, you may want to change your sleep patterns to conform the the destination. You may want to consider a “red eye” flight where you sleep on the flight if arriving in the morning at your destination. If landing at an odd hour of the night it is good to know the services available at the airport when you arrive.

Also consider the arrival times in relation to hotel check-in policies

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Hotel Booking

Cancellation Policy

When making your advance hotel reservation always be aware of the cancellation policy. The cancellation policy may vary depending on your method of booking. Booking a room direct may have different cancellation terms than booking with a third party website.

Booking Direct or Third Party

When searching for hotels, be sure to check if there are any benefits in price booking directly with the hotel or a third party website. Also keep in mind the above mentioned cancellation policies!

Deposit Required?

Some hotels may require a deposit while making a reservation. If they do, be sure to consider their cancellation policy in regards to obtaining a refund of the room deposit.


When booking a room, consider where you plan to spend most of your time and the transportation options to and from your hotel. Sometimes you may find, depending on transportation costs, that paying more for a room will be more cost effective when logistics costs are factored in.

Check-in & Check-out times

Always know the hotel check-in time and check-out times of where you are staying. If you are arriving late, some hotels want to know when you plan to arrive. If you arrive early before check-in be ready to find something to do while you wait for your room to be made available.

Be aware of the property’s check-out times. You may assume it is one time, but ends up being hours earlier. House keeping knocking on your door the last day of your stay while you are still in bed is never a good feeling!

Bonus Tip!

Before you travel, if you plan on using ATM/debit cards or credit cards at a foreign destination, it is always best to check the travel policy. You may need to log onto your account and add a travel note or call customer service to let them know. Don’t find out the hard way if your card will work at your destination.

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Travel Booking Resources:

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