Tips to plan your next trip - Take 1
Actualizado: 31 de ene de 2020
When you start planning your first trip it may seem daunting and you may not be able to sort through the countless websites to find the best options. Your destination is also an important factor to take into consideration, but we’ll provide you with a general guide and tips to help you on your way. We’ll be publishing a set of three articles that will cover transportation, lodging, and sights and budget. So, let’s start it off:
How to get there
Whether it is to get to your initial destination or from one city to the next, transportation is definitely key. Let’s take a look at the options and see what will suit you best.
It will, of course, depend on your cities of origin and destination, but there are several sites to look up flights from all airlines. Our all-time favorite is Skyscanner. You can compare prices and schedules, check whether there are direct or cheaper flights on an alternative date, and find combinations between different airlines that may be more convenient. It’s always good to double-check with the airlines' websites and make sure you have enough time in between flights.
In addition to this site, someone recently recommended Momondo to us which looks just as good and has the added feature of allowing you to look for an unspecified destination within a continent or country (plus a more eye-catching design). After checking a site of this kind, we usually go directly to the airline’s website to buy our tickets. However, sometimes buying your ticket from eDreams may mean you get a better deal than directly from the airline. Check your total every step of the way, though, as sometimes they offer some misleading promos.
If you are traveling between cities in the US or Europe, you can always find low-cost flights to move around. We advise you to book at least two months in advance to get the best prices (I once got a RyanAir flight in Europe for just 3 euros) and keep in mind there might be extra charges for luggage. It is always best to pack light to make the most of it, but it is also highly advisable to pay for your luggage in advance to avoid exorbitant fees and stress when you get to the departure gate.
Here are some comments on the airlines we’ve tried:
Iberia: We’ve travelled several times with Iberia and the experience has been good overall. Staff might not be the most polite at times, but the seats are comfortable and the food is good.
Air Europa: The first experience I had with Air Europa was similar to Iberia’s, but it seems it has gone downhill over the last few years, at least when it comes to long distance. I traveled last July and there were problems with the earphone jacks and screens, and the food quality had decreased. The food was something I didn’t mind that much, but in an 11-hour flight, having your screen or earphone jack not work for most of the flight can be quite a hassle (especially if you can’t sleep on the plane). Ana did a short flight with them from Madrid to Seville, however, and had a good experience on that flight.
Air France: A favourite by far. Not only do they provide great service, but they have ice-cream as a midnight snack. Staff are pleasant and it was really nice flying with this airline. I must clarify that my last experience with them was about five years ago, but Ana’s parents recently flew with Air France and also had a fantastic experience.
LATAM: They usually provide great service (both in short and long-distance flights), but we also had experiences where we had to wait for hours for issues with the crew or airport authorizations.
Copa Airlines: This airline found its way around long flights with larger seats by dividing trips in two. Unless your final destination is Panama, you’ll find yourself with a layover and two shorter flights. This means they get away with smaller seats and fewer services. Our flights were ok, but not extremely comfortable. If there is an affordable alternative, I’d go for that one.
TAP Airlines: I used TAP only for short flights from and to Lisbon and had mixed experiences. The first flight was quite alright, but we experienced a considerable delay in the departure without a satisfactory explanation. The second one ran more smoothly and, even in shorter flights, you get a snack which is definitely a plus. Regarding long-distance flights, my sister and her family flew with TAP from Montevideo to Lisbon and they had some more issues; a cancellation that forced them to spend a night in Brazil and not much help being provided to carry the kids and luggage in the middle of the night. However, after many months of following up on the complaint, they did get a hefty compensation for their troubles.
RyanAir: There are two things that make RyanAir memorable: the ever-changing baggage policy and the music at the end of a flight that arrives on time. If you know not to expect too much, this airline is perfect. We experienced only one real delay in departure in dozens of flights and have no real complaints. Just remember to check-in online before getting to the airport, double-check the baggage policy and always pay for your luggage in advance.
Eurowings: I used Eurowings a couple of months ago with my mom and a friend to get from Poland to Croatia and we were wary of the reviews we had read. However, our particular experience was ok. As long as you understand you get what you paid for, low-cost airlines are alright.
If you want to hear about our experience with these or other airlines, such as Aer Lingus, easyJet, American Airlines, Norwegian or British Airways, drop us a line through social media or leave us a comment.
Hot tip for airports: visit https://www.sleepinginairports.net/ to see the services available at the airports you’ll visit (for example, if there is free wifi or electrical outlets available). Even if you’re not planning to spend the night at the airport, it is very useful to not be rushing around or trying to figure out things once there.
Buses and trains
A simple Google search with “bus/train” plus the city or country name usually grants you good results, but I was recently introduced to Omio which allows you to look up and compare different transportation options. However, we are yet to find a website that really compares ALL options, so you should use several sites.
If you’re looking for more specific recommendations, Megabus (or Flixbus now in mainland Europe) usually has good prices if booked in advance and has good services in the US and Europe. Within the United Kingdom, I highly recommend National Express.
Trains are usually the most expensive option. However, they do tend to be the most environmentally friendly. Just like with low-cost flights, you should buy your tickets in advance and try the websites for the local train company.
Hot tip for public transportation within a city: check if they are any apps available as this will help you out considerably. If you are going to multiple cities and don’t want the hassle of multiple apps, Moovit is usually a good option. Also, if you know you won’t have an internet connection for the most part of your trip, downloading Google Maps for the location you’re visiting is a great trick to help you get around.
Travel planning is a pleasure for some and a headache for others. Whichever it is for you, we hope you find our tips useful. If you have any questions that weren’t covered in this article, you can always find us on social media or drop us a line here.