The internet has been playing an increasingly prominent role in planning vacations as the travel industry grows. From the initial research to booking each aspect of the trip, the internet is making national and international travel easier than ever before.
According to STRATOS, 82% of all travel bookings were completed without human interaction. And many websites — such as Google, Expedia, and AirBNB — are making strides in the online travel industry. That’s why there’s never been a better time to plan your next vacation from the comfort of your home.
Kicking off the Planning
The first step of vacation planning is deciding what trip you want. The many types of vacations – solo trips, family vacations, adventurous experiences, and cultural excursions – are all very different ways to experience the world. From pet-friendly travel to business ventures, your plans will form based on your chosen vacation type.
If you’re unsure where to go, try searching for some specifics. For example, if you know when you want to travel, what destinations are best during that time of year? Try the same method if you want to experience specific events and amazing weather or if you want to stay within a specific budget. Maybe you just want to sit on a beach somewhere affordable, and you can find where that is with some quick research.
If you’re traveling to a location where people don’t speak English, try learning some of their language. Numerous apps will help you as you dive into a new language. You can also read articles, use translation services, and even find others online who speak the language and would love to help out.
Many people use social media to capture memories of their experiences. You can create digital albums of pictures and videos within social media apps and share them with your friends. Before you leave, find an app you love that helps you organize photos into albums, so you can easily save your favorites as you go.
A budget is the best way to keep your spending in check while traveling. The best budgets account for all aspects of travel — including souvenirs, meals, snacks, entertainment, transport, and a contingency fund for the unexpected. Depending on the type of trip, you might be able to find a specialty budgeting tool (such as this Disney World Cost Calculator) to ensure you’ve accounted for everything. Mint is an excellent free app that will help you manage your cash while out adventuring.
When building a budget, remember that each vacation is different, and no budget fits everyone’s needs. You’ll want to adjust your budget template to suit your needs. For example, you might spend more on fine exotic dining, save on food costs, and use your money for thrilling experiences instead.
We acknowledge that purchasing a plane ticket can be expensive and can sometimes be financially burdensome. Alternative Airlines has a great solution for this, the travel booking website allows customers all over the world to pay for tickets in instalments on over 600 airlines. This allows the customers to easily budget their travel costs by placing their flight tickets on layaway.
See it first with AR and VR
Augmented reality and virtual reality can be great tools for travel planning. You can transport yourself anywhere in the world without leaving your home. Even apps on your phone can handle this. Google Street views and 360 YouTube videos can show you any corner of the world. With a VR system, you can explore these places virtually and discover places you need to see in person.
Making Reservations Online 101
It’s essential to do a security check-up before booking online reservations. There are scams and dodgy sites throughout the Internet. Protect yourself from these by using a VPN when you search. A VPN, or virtual private network, hides your IP address and location from potential hackers. A VPN is also a must when using public WiFi as you travel.
You’ll want to check multiple reviews from different sites before you book a hotel or excursion. A legitimate experience will have a website and a presence on map apps, such as Google Maps, where you can see what people say about it.
The internet is a great online travel tool for booking flights. If you’re unsure where to go, you can use sites such as Google Flights’ Discover Destinations or Booking.com’s Destination Finder. Once you know where you’re going, you can search for flight deals through sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights or The Flight Deal. When it comes time to book, there’s no best practice. Expedia and similar booking sites provide loyalty points when you fly with them, as do most airlines. If you stick to a specific booker, those points add up over time and can save you money.
Accommodations come in a variety of forms. A hotel is a classic room to stay in and may provide room service, free airport shuttles, and other perks. You can rent rooms or entire suites through sites like Airbnb, but you’ll want to carefully look at the amenities and reviews for each place. Apartments for long-term stays are possible, and hostels are always an option for the traveler on a budget. Hotels.com and Kayak are great sites to price-check accommodations; some even have loyalty programs to incentivize you in your travel searches.
Before you go, figure out what you want to experience, and book that in advance. For most attractions, booking is usually the cheaper option. Great attractions and restaurants get very busy. That’s why availability isn’t guaranteed if you try to book the same day you arrive. At best, you’ll experience long waits; at worst, you’ll miss out entirely. While brainstorming about what you want to see, it’s worth noting that many travel destinations have city cards that provide discounts on several tourist attractions. See if your destination has hidden deals you may not have known about at first glance.
Technology for Travel Safety
Research safety tips, common travel scams, and areas to avoid before you go. You’ll find many blogs outlining the common traps local shady characters will try to pull. Once you’re aware of how tourists get scammed, you’ll be able to avoid it. A good rule for any travel is that if it isn’t safe at home, it’s also not safe abroad.
Use the internet to double-check any travel requirements for your destinations. Some places require specific visas, vaccinations, or rules regarding lengths of stay. It’s also essential to purchase travel insurance before you go. Travel insurance doesn’t simply protect you if you get sick or injured; some insurances also cover you if your trip gets canceled beyond your control. You should keep digital copies of all your essential documents with you but use an encrypted storage space by protecting your device with a cyber-security package.
Preparations Before the Trip
You can also use the internet to prepare for departure. Shop online for necessary travel accessories — such as luggage, luggage tags, luggage organization, security locks, and more. You’ll also need travel adapters if you’re traveling overseas. Power banks should also be on your list. They’re convenient for keeping your devices powered and will help you avoid public power banks — which are easy for hackers to access. Once you have what you need, check out some packing apps for useful tips and itemized lists.
It’s also important to research some logistics before you depart. For example, how are you getting to your accommodations? Taxis aren’t always the best option (and they’re usually the most expensive choice). Is it easy to use public transit from the airport? Rideshare apps are convenient options most of the time because they charge your credit card automatically, and you’ll know the cost when you book. These are usually cheaper than taxis, but their prices surge when demand is high, so know your options.
Another travel headache you can prepare for in advance is how you’ll use your phone overseas. People are often surprised that their phones don’t work in foreign countries. Before you go, call your local provider to find out what roaming packages they have, and ensure those packages cover everywhere you’re planning to see. You can purchase E-SIM (electronic SIM) or regular SIM cards that work on foreign networks. These may not let you use your home number, but you’ll gain access to the Internet.
During the Trip
Once you’re on vacation, the Internet will still be super helpful. Download the Google Translate app if you’re traveling somewhere where English isn’t the dominant language. You can ask it to read and translate text and even ask it to listen while you chat with someone. It will actively translate what it hears, so you can ensure you understand in real-time.
GPS and map apps are excellent for learning how to get around and choosing great places to visit. No matter how you travel, your GPS can help guide you. Most map apps help with figuring out public transit, though some countries have specific apps that track trains and buses better. If you’re looking to transit overseas, check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One for an extensive overview of how to get around most destinations.
Map apps also provide a non-biased source of reviews for all businesses. These reviews are worth checking out before you go. An excellent recommendation from a travel blog may be getting poor reviews lately — and you’ll want to know why. Other useful tools are luggage storage apps. This way, if you’re stuck carrying luggage, you can find a convenient place to store it in the short-term.
Your cell phone can give you ample security while you travel. You can use it as a credit card to pay for goods electronically — and if you have a Find-My-Device program enabled, you can delete your phone’s data if it gets stolen. This way, you can leave your credit cards at home. You can even use technology to set up home security systems and monitor them while you travel for peace of mind.
The Internet has terrific tools for traveling. From planning vacations, and dreaming up your perfect destination, budgeting, and helping you pack what you’ll need — the Internet has you covered. You can visit destinations through VR or check out the street on interactive maps. There’s no shortage of discounts and advice for booking online and plenty of ways to ensure your data stays secure. Use the Internet to plan your next vacation — and once the plane takes off, you’ll have nothing left to do but relax and enjoy the trip.
by Teresa Siqueira