Experienced travelers know the basics: do your research, pack light and enjoy the ride. And while that’s definitely confident, it’s not KAYAK Confident. We want to be sure you’re more than confident you’ve planned the perfect trip. Follow these 10 tips and you’ll be well on your way to bold new experiences.
1. Be flexible.
Just as in yoga pants and Saturday nights, it’s better to be flexible when it comes to travel plans. And being flexible can mean many things. For one, you can fly at less popular times (early morning, late night, redeye) to score a sweet deal. Or by using our Flexible Dates, Flexible Weekend or Flexible Month features, you can stretch your time any way you choose. Flexible Dates is great for those who have to travel during a certain time (think: school vacation or work travel) but want to see if leave a day or two early/late will actually save more in the long run. Flexible Weekend is for those who just need a getaway at the end of the week. It looks at Thursday – Sunday travel dates over the course of a month to find which weekend has the best price for your escape. And Flexible Month lets you choose what month and how many nights you want to travel, then lets you see a calendar view of the lowest possible airfare for every day.
2. Bring your online self offline.
When traveling, WiFi access and a data connection are not always a given. And while “unplugging” is an admirable goal, it can complicate things if you’re not sure the exact address of your hotel in Tivoli or what restaurant you reserved a spot at that night. That’s why KAYAK Trips has an offline setting so you can see all your plans in on go, no matter your connection. That way, you can enjoy experiencing a destination like a local without shuttling from one chain coffee store to another for their free WiFi.
3. Decide what’s more important: destination or budget.
For some travelers, they know exactly where they want to go and will spare no expense getting there. For others, it doesn’t really matter where they go for their next getaway — they just know they need a vacation that fits their bank account. To be sure you’re planning a trip that fits with your budget, KAYAK Explore is a great tool. You can enter your home airport, travel dates, preferred duration and flight budget. We’ll find you where in the world you can travel to for that sort of cash. Also, you can narrow down your option by using our curated explore lists that are based on the sort of travel experience you want.
4. Know what flight prices are doing before you book.
Spontaneity is great, but you know what else is great? Learning a few words in a local language and having a firm grasp on the conversion rate in your destination. Even when it comes to planning a last-minute trip, doing some quick research will pay off. Not sure where to start? A couple of key phrases, some basic currency information, and a rudimentary knowledge of the city’s transportation options will go a long way.
While having a few scheduled activities or a list of must-see sites is important, leave some room for on-the-fly outings and local recommendations.
5. Get every last drop out of hotel deals.
There are plenty of deal-finding tricks when it comes to hotels. Like, book the same day as your stay for a discount and split a multi-day stay among different travel sites to get the best deal. Thankfully, we do the legwork on finding great hotels for you so you don’t need to bother with tricks (and can spend more time on the treats of travel). But one thing that does pay is signing up for a free KAYAK account so you can get hotel Private Deals. These are rates that hotels offer only to rewards members and email subscribers. So they let us pass the savings down to you. Sometimes, you can save even more on your stay just by signing in.
6. Know the best time to book (so you’re not committing a travel fail).
Unless you’re into the sort of last-minute spontaneity that throws all caution to the wind, there are plenty of tools at your reach to help make sure you’re getting a great flight deal. KAYAK Price Alerts will help you track prices well ahead of your trip so you can book when the booking’s good. Our Price Forecast tool in flight search can also help you figure out if you should wait or book now. We’ll analyze price trends to tell you what we think will happen with airfare in the next several days. Also, we’ve even created an Anywhere feature for our annual Travel Hacker Guide. There, you can plug in your home airport and destination and we’ll let you know what prices tend to do, how far in advance you should plan ot book and what is considered a good deal on airfare.
7. Breathe (and always read the fine print).
In the off chance that something does go wrong when planning your trip — don’t hit the panic button. Take a deep breath. Figure out what caused the error and get to the root of the problem. Maybe you didn’t realize the hotel you booked charges a “resort fee.” Or you thought the rental car agency was located at the airport, not in downtown. Thankfully, we’ve created tools to help make sure that when you search you’re getting exactly what you want. This includes things like our Baggage Fee Calculator, where we’ll update flight prices based on how many bags you intend to bring. However, because you’re not booking on KAYAK, we always suggest you read the fine print to any reservation. It can also pay off in the long run. For example, there’s a rule in the EU that if your flight is a certain number of hours delayed, you’re entitled to compensation. Know this and other rules will make you an even savvier traveler.
8. Keep an open mind and be present.
You travel to experience things. So don’t weigh that experience down by staying in your comfort zone. Not being open to new experiences is like… going to Paris and only ordering hamburgers. Why bother? You go to different cities to experience different ways of life. So take part in local customs and open up to new experiences. Believe us, you’ll be thankful you stopped at that street corner arepa cart in Cartagena. Also, while picture taking is a given (and we’re sure you’re using #KAYAKTravelHacker when you post your travel photos on Instagram), don’t forget to be present in the moment. Put the phone down, stop the live video and stay off WiFi as you roam the city. You can always post photos when you get back to the hotel.
9. Read up on travel trends.
Whether you’re not sure where to go for your next vacation or just really want to do your research, our annual Travel Hacker Guide is a great place to start. It fills you in on what destinations are on traveler’s hot lists, which cities will give you the best bang for your buck, when to book your flights and so much more. We’ve combed through over 1.5 billion annual searches to help you with the ins and outs of travel. Use it as inspiration or as part of your trip planning process.
10. Put experiences first.
Sometimes when we plan a trip it’s more about how much we can see and less about how much we can experience. You can “see” Paris by sprinting from the Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre and back, but did you really experience it? Make sure you’re getting the most out of the city you’re visiting by embracing its culture and way of life. We want to help make sure you’re getting the full travel experience by providing tips and tools that help you plan your trip the way you want it. That way, you’re not worrying about the quality of the hotel you’re staying in and instead are simply enjoying the trip you’re on.