Hello everybody ! I hope you’re having a good week. Personally, I’m preparing my trip to Korea and Japan. We will leave on Saturday (initially it was today, but the Air France strikes decided otherwise). During my preparations, I thought it would be interesting to give you a summary of everything you need to do to prepare your trip.
I’m going to list everything I think about when I’m planning my trip. I want to do it in the form of a To do list. My examples will be about Korea and Japan since it’s my next trip but the advice will be applicable to all trips.
1/ Reserve your flight
Use a flight comparator
I recommend using a flight comparator when you want to book your flight. It is important to find the best flights at the best prices. Choosing a flight is an important and expensive step that deserves your time. To find your happiness, you can test several flight comparators (I recommend you do it). Pay attention to the number of stopovers and the their duration, the comparators are very extreme sometimes.
Personally, my favorite sites are Kayak and Skyscanner. But there are plenty of others.
The benefits of online travel agencies
I am not a big fan of travel agencies, but yesterday I discovered that they had their advantages.
After having to manage the cancellation of my Paris-Seoul flight because of the strikes, I really recommend Opodo. I tried to join Air France for more than 3 hours without result (I was hyper stressed, because we had no more flight). But once I called Opodo, I got them after a reasonable wait and they did not hang up until I found a solution. Besides, be aware that if you take a ticket via one of these platforms when there is a problem, you must call them and not your airline. They are the ones who can change your reservation (lesson learned after waiting hours).
Check the multi-destinations
What is multi-destinations? Multi-destinations airline tickets include one or more destinations. Instead of making a Paris-New York round trip, you make a Paris-New York-Montreal-Paris.
Why check the multi-destinations? These tickets are often cheaper than a classic round trip. For example: We decided to take a Paris-Seoul-Tokyo trip, because this trip was cheaper than a simple Paris-Tokyo. We had a 200 euros difference.
2 / Book your accommodation
Inquire about the types of accommodation
Before you start looking for your hotel for your holidays, I advise you to check on the internet or in your guides if the country in which you’re going to has « traditional » housing. Depending on the country, the types of accommodation vary enormously. For example, in Seoul the Hanoks are traditional.
By checking this in advance, you will not miss out on a unique experience.
Inquire about the ideal neighborhood
Before choosing a hotel, be certain of the neighborhoods that interest you. You want to be in the center of the tourist visits? In the lively neighborhood? A rather residential neighborhood where the locals meet?
Frankly, when you are staying a few days in a city, it’s important to choose the neighborhood to make the most of it. Personally, depending on the price, I try to target the lively areas and not too far from the tourist attractions (because the organization of the days is easier).
Use a Booking – Trip Advisor combo
I recently learned this trick. When I book a hotel, I usually do it on Booking. Honestly, I have never had any problems. However, I booked the Japan trip, I realized that hotels rated on Booking sometimes found themselves with disappointing ratings on Trip Advisor (the photos were also disappointing).
After this experience, I advise you to always look at Trip Advisor before booking in case.
Do not forget Airbnb
Do not forget to check Airbnb. Airbnb is usually cheaper than hotels. Of course, it’s not necessarily the same comfort, but it could be in your favorite neighborhood for a reasonable price.
3 / Choose your travel guide
Avoid buying your guide on the internet
I admit that I am the first to not respect this rule. We will not fool ourselves … internet is convenient. But when you order your travel guide without looking at it first, you cannot know if it will fit your needs. Everyone has their own preferences. Personally, I prefer the aerated guides with images to make me dream a little (yes I know it’s a little ridiculous).
The only ones I buy with my eyes closed are the Lonely Planet for cities. I like the design and the map is very handy.
4 / Choose activities
Do not forget to book the popular activities
When you go on vacation, always check in advance if the activities you are trying to do need to be booked in advance. This is often the case for museums, excursions and some restaurants.
+ Amsterdam: the Anne Frank Museum
+ Tokyo: Ghibi Museum in Tokyo
+ Seoul: the trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
5 / Inquire before leaving
Is there a visa?
As you can imagine, this is a question that must always be asked. The visa is important if you want to have a good holiday. So you have to systematically check. Know that for South Korea and Japan, a visa is not necessary for French visitors.
The means of transport at the airport?
I’ve been scammed at airports. Leaving a flight of 12 hours you will not have the patience to check the best way to go to your hotel. Take a cab ? A train ? A bus ? In general, taxis are expensive (that will depend on cities and countries). So, I advise you to inquire in advance to avoid any nasty surprises or stress on the spot.
Public transport during your stay?
Ask about the different public transport that you can take. There are often a pass with a credit system for metro (The Oyster Card in London and the T-Money Card in Seoul) for example or for the train (eg Japan – Rail Pass). This will allow you to reduce the transport budget.
The plugs used?
Learn from my mistakes: remember to check in advance the type of plug used in that country. In the worst situation, you can buy one on the spot, but it is more convenient to have thought of it in advance. In general, I buy a « universal » adapter (useful when you go to several countries).
6 / Buy the necessary applications
An application to locate yourself
It’s nice to have an app to help you locate yourself. My favorite is Google Maps because I can download city maps in advance to be able to locate myself when I’m offline (no more internet connection – which often happens abroad).
An application to understand the language
It is always useful to have a dictionary in your pocket. Especially when the population does not speak English. I recommend the application google translate. It is very convenient, you can download translations offline. Of course, this is not the best translation in the world, but I personally like it when I have to translate a word or a sign.
An application for the metro
Friendly advice, download an app with the metro map of the city. When you are lost, it can get you out of trouble :).
An app to find a restaurant
Frankly, I recommend the Trip Advisor app (ok, it’s not a big scoop). Personally, it worked without problem in all the countries where I went. However, you will need wifi (wifi from your hotel or free wifi for example).
I hope this article will help you :). Do not hesitate to tell me if you have any good plans to book your holidays!