There are certain things that we are good at, right? In my case, one of these things is researching/planning and of course executing all sorts of travels. Travelling is an almost mystical experience for me. It is something more than cultural exchange that pushes me to start the ritual of website hopping till I find the right destination. What we call destination though differs significantly among the people.
We choose destinations in order to meet certain needs, in certain moments of our lives. We travel to visit friends and relatives, check out museums and monuments or just leave behind for a while our everyday routine. When you travel a lot though some destinations start to have a different impact on you (it is chemical I think, at least similar). Choosing your next destination is like choosing wine, there is no good and bad wine, there is just the right one. Visiting again (and again) the same city gives you a different kind of satisfaction than the one of a new destination. And this is because both, you and the city, change with the time and it is really pleasing to share your maturation with a certain landmark. The same can be said of course for books we re-read and movies we re-watch (with the difference that a certain destination is evolving through time whereas with a book or a movie it is just us that changed).
The golden rule for ”value for money” travelling (I detest the word budget-travelling) is early booking. Try to plan your journey as early as possible. For example, book your Easter or even summer vacation from December (certain companies provide flexible bookings that allow you to alternate your dates of travelling for a small fee). It is important to figure out exactly what you are looking for before you book your trip (for example if your primary target for your next journey is to rest and relax, you can choose a destination that can offer you good value in accommodation). It is recommendable of course to avoid the ”hot” dates like Christmas. A good way to save yourself some money is by choosing to book your flights during the weekdays instead of the weekends. Subscribe yourself in some airlines that you frequently use in order to receive newsletters with any available offer. And of course use www.skyscanner.net to help you choose the right flight (it has an application also).
Another application that can help you, especially food/coffee/drink wise, is Foursquare (for me it is the new Tripadvisor). Do not forget Google maps also for interesting places around you (the application of Google maps offers you free offline maps by the way). An easy way to not forget places that you want to visit is by saving them in your Google maps (it requires a Google account). Just keep in mind that there is no better guide than a local (or at least someone that has been already to the place that you plan to visit and of course you trust his/her taste). Do not hesitate to ask us for example if you plan to visit Greece (or Europe).
As far as the accommodation is concerned, there are two main websites you can use for your research. Of course we speak about http://www.booking.com and http://www.airbnb.com . There is also http://www.couchsurfing.org , if you would like to try an alternative way of travelling/socialising (couchsurfing can be used also in order to ask locals for more detailed informations for certain places). Last but not least is Facebook, with lots of groups that can help you with whatever is that you are looking for.
Pack your bags then, because as Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Michail I. Lafkas
P.S. The featured picture is from Skopelos island.