Men's Articles

Planning Your Holiday On The Net


Many people book their airline tickets, hotel rooms, even land tours online - but many still do not. Whichever you prefer, I highly recommend the former. Here is an insider's tips to planning your holiday on the Net. Recently, I spent over 30 hours trawling 200 webpages, half of which I printed, before jetting off to my destinations. You can do it too and your Net-planned trip may be that much cheaper - and possibly richer too.

Choose Your Hotel

On planning my maiden trip to Paris recently, I needed to find out key locations of city hotels and the costs. After doing my research - I read mainly the feedback and ratings of other travellers - I finally decided on a hotel that met my requirements and budget. I turned up at the hotel and was pleasantly surprised to find that all the reviews were spot-on. In fact, the hotel offered even more: It boasted easy access to convenience stores and eateries, all in the same vicinity.

The two Metro tube stations, the Opera House and the shopping belt around Galleries Lafayette were also within easy reach from the hotel - just as the reviews had acknowledged. I read the reviews as well as booked the hotel room, on Venere (www.venere.com). You start by choosing the location, the budget (the star rating) and the dates of your holiday. The site will then display a list of all the hotels available according to your specifications.

I recommend that you read all the readers' comments on your short-listed hotels before making the final decision. Venere solicits for all these comments, as I soon found out. A week after I returned from my holiday, I received an e-mail requesting my comments, which I gave. Another great thing about this hotel booking site is that it uses my credit card only to book the room. No advance payment is needed, and you pay the hotel charges only upon check out.

Plan The Itinerary

I like my holidays to be free and easy, but I also want to visit all the must-see places and go off-the-beaten track too. Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) is my first stop for an overview - things to do, places to go at night, and how to get around on the local transport. Fodors is another great starting point (www.fodors.com), giving even three- and five-day recommendations of where to go. From there I plan a tentative itinerary and modify as I go along.

For example, on researching a trip to Florence, Italy, Lonely Planet pointed me to the actual statue of David by Michelangelo, housed in the Galleria della'Acadenua, which I would otherwise have missed, having mistaken the copy of the statue around the Uffizi Gallery to be the real thing. I took up Fodors' smart travel tips when I visited Barcelona, Spain and booked a the three-day tourist card for travel - all on public transport - that took me to key parts of the city, from the Las Ramblas to the Barcelona football stadium.

Check The Weather

Know the local weather so that you do not over- or under-dress for the trip. On a recent holiday to France and Germany, I learned about an extended cold winter spell having visited The Weather Channel (www.weather.com). This site lets you check the weekend, 10-day and even one-month weather forecast.

Check The Exchange Rate

To make sure that you keep within your budget, visit your local bank's website. And check the prevailing currency exchange rates before take off. To find out how much you will need to spend on meals, the Money section of the Lonely Planet site gives helpful cost estimations.

Book Your Flight

I found that I could get great bargains by booking directly from the website of the airlines and then clicking on the "Special/Top Offers" section. You will be surprised how inexpensive it is to detour from your designated ports of call such as Frankfurt, Rome, Barcelona and Paris and visit exotic locations such as Florence, Venice, Naples and Bucharest for under Euro 100! Check out these budget airlines for:

Flights In And Around Europe...

  • Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
  • Alitalia (www.alitalia.com)
  • EasyJet, based in the United Kingdom (www.easyjet.com)

Flights In The United States...

  • American Airlines (www.aa.com)
  • America West (www.americawest.com)

Flights In Asia

  • JetStar Asia (www-jetstarasia.com)
  • AirAsia (www.airasia.com)

Finally, 48 Hours Before Departure

Do an online check-in and select your seat, if you are flying with Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com). In a recent flight to Europe, I chanced upon four centre seats in a row near the back of the plane and swapped my designated seat, hoping to have a good rest on the flight. Alas, the flight was booked - solid.

Packing Pointers

Packing light is the cardinal rule of carefree travel. Yet it can be difficult to leave behind those dressy outfits or that stunning pair of stilettos for the "just in case" moments.

Here Are Some Travel-Savvy Space-Saving Tips

  • Roll your clothes into neat cylinders. This is also good to minimise wrinkles.
  • Prioritise the contents. Put things you might need in a hurry on top of your suitcase or in your carry-on bag.
  • Place the heaviest things on the bottom of your bag and the more wrinkle-prone clothes on top.
  • Roll up sweaters and undergarments and fit them into the corners of the suitcase.
  • Stuff socks into your shoes and put the shoes in a plastic or cloth bag.
  • Fill in unused space with smaller items such as toiletries or other items.
  • When you pack and repack, put things in the same place each time so you'll be able to extract specific items quickly when needed.
 

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