Planning out your trip can be both exciting and overwhelming so we decided to interview some of our favorite travel bloggers Travellist.ae, Ilovemydeskjob and AJtravel . A mix of adrenaline junkies, curious bloggers, and destination seekers.
Where we couldn’t word for them, we added their responses in raw format. So you can feel and imagine their answers.
Travel bloggers favorite destination in their own words
Manar aka Travellist.ae:
“Every place I visited has a special place in my heart, but if I have to choose one it would be Iceland. The landscape that I’ve seen in Iceland cannot compare to any other landscape. Never get bored of Iceland beautiful landscape you can find volcanoes, waterfalls, holes in the ground, you’ll have an adventure every day. In terms of culture Morocco has a beautiful culture you admire everything you see in the country and for the US there is a long list of different activities that you can do every day. “
Majed aka Ilovemydeskjob:
“It’s hard to pick one location but if there a continent I have to choose it would be South America because of many reasons including unique landscapes, the different cultures, amazing food. Landscape for me is very important as a photographer as it gives me chance to take great photos. But if I had to choose my favourite place it would be Chile and Bolivia. Bolivia was very unique in terms of the landscapes, we started at one and drove all the way to Chile which allowed us to explore the Bolivian landscape from salt flats to viewing cacti to a temperature of - 2 to red mountain to mountains with red and green lakes.
While visiting Chile I had the chance to experience the mountain three towers, during my research I fell in love with that mountains and when I saw it in real life, I felt that my heart skipped a beat.”
Aisha aka AJtravel:
“As a travel photographer, I love places with greenery like the Faroe Islands and Greenland. I am very lucky to have traveled to amazing places but those two countries stand out the most”
Balancing the number of annual leaves and work
Majed: “the only thing standing between me and traveling the world is a desk job” and just like many of us, we struggle to plan for our travels to fit in our busy work life. With limited days off to take for traveling Majed, Manar and Aisha have given us an insight on how they can take days off for a date.
Majed shares that he always makes sure to speak with his boss to take leaves depending on the duration of the trip for a longer trip he takes 2-3 weeks off and for a short trip, he takes a week off.
Both Manar and Aisha plan their trip around public holidays to elongate their holiday without scarifying their limited days off.
Picking the right holiday spot:
Once you’re able to empty few weeks for traveling your next step is to pick the perfect holiday spot. Manar keeps a bucket list of the places she wants to visit this can make it easier for her to pick a country every time she plans for a trip. The first thing she keeps in mind is the season, very important as it can make the trip memorable. For countries with cooler weather, it’s advised to avoid going to those places if you do not bear the cold and the same goes for countries with hotter climates. She shares that her trip to Iceland was memorable during the summer as the weather was away from the two extremes but when her friends visited Iceland during the winter, they found it too cold and not bearable to do some activities.
The planning process:
1. Plan ahead:
It can be difficult to plan for your travels six months ahead but Manar advises that planning early can give you better hotel rates and gives you the option of choosing from a list of hotels that fit your criteria. You will also be able to choose from different activities that are generally crowded by tourists, especially in counties where hotels and different activities are limited like in Iceland and during the crowded season (summer season). Planning will allow you to spend time enjoying the different activities rather than spending it waiting in line.
Rapping to the world research is the answer Majed gave us in how to properly plan a trip. He advises using social media as a research medium, you can search by location and find people that have been to the country you are planning to go to. Many people who post on Instagram will most likely post the photo of the place unedited giving you an idea of how the place will actually look like.
Manar suggests researching the different cities or places you would like to go while visiting a country in order for you to plan your route. She shares while planning for her trip to China as it is a big country, she located the place she wanted to visit the most and planned around the place in order to avoid spending most of her trip on commute. Here is where the application Rome2Rio will come in handy as it can help plan your route for you, showing you different travel routes whether it’s by car, train or boat. An example of how the app can be used, Manar shares during her visit to China the app showed them the schedule of the transportations and the places that are closer together to be able to plan their route more efficiently. If it’s your first time traveling to a certain country Manar also suggests another way to plan your route, search on Pinterest the duration of your trip to find out what other people have done during a specific time and season to help you better plan your trip.
Pro tip: you can pin on google maps the places you would let to visit to make it easier to search for the places later on when visiting the country.
When booking hotels Manar prefers using booking.com as it allows for free cancellation this allows her the time to browse other hotels before committing to one. In her experience, she found that looking at hotel images through Google Maps gave her a much accurate image of how the hotel room will look like in comparison to the professional shots found on hotel booking websites.
If you find yourself with a free day and want to fill it with a fun activity take advantage of the hotel concierge, they will most likely give you a better rate, plan your day easily without any hassle, and give you a local perspective on the best activities and local experience their country offers. Another option is by using an app that helps you view the different activities available in the country, an example of such an app Get your Guide.
Pro tip: screenshot all your booking details or print them just in case you don’t have internet when you arrive to the country.
Aisha likes to book with travel agencies when going to a country where they don’t speak English or where not a lot of tourist visits. The travel agencies can save you time as they plan your trip and provide you with a unique experience that you might not have if traveling alone. A keynote that Aisha mentions is to try to book with local travel agencies rather than international ones and the benefit of that is you will be able to support local businesses and they are more likely going to give you an authentic local experience.
When it comes to researching for a certain location AJ takes the more traditional route and uses magazines and local websites. The National Geographic magazine is great for people who are passionate about travel photography and outdoor activities. The local website can provide details that international travel websites may miss such as the right way to get to the location, local restaurant next to the area, public transportation timing such as bus timing, and health and safety information.
Pro tip: use local credit cards during your travels to earn points. The more points received the more you’ll be able to exchange them for rewards. For example, lower prices on business class.
The travel bloggers agree that research is key when planning your trip as you might only travel to this location once and spend a lot so make it memorable.
There are endless transportation options in different countries but how do you pick the right transportation. Both Manar and Majed prefer to rent a car to reduce the time waiting on public transportation and in many countries’ taxis can get overpriced. Also, with the advantage of renting out your car, you will not have to stick to a fixed transportation schedule. A simple Google search will be able to tell you whether the country you’re planning to visit is car-friendly. For example, Portugal had narrow roads and cars won’t be able to drop you at your exact destination, whereas in Morocco it is advised to book a driver as it can be difficult to find proper parking.
There are thousands of applications used to make our lives a little easier but with such a wide selection we have asked our travel bloggers to list some of their favorite application:
TripAdvisor is a platform where users add in their travel recommendations from hotels to places to eat and hidden gems giving other travelers an insight into the country they are planning to visit.
Airbnb gives you an endless staying option especially in places where hotels are limited.
Roadtrippers is the only map built for travelers. Plan your road trip with friends or find an amazing place nearby you never knew existed.
Rome2rio is a great application to help you find the best transportation option, just log in to the address and the app will provide you with estimated prices, journey durations, and booking details.
Get your guide allows you to book popular tours app and tickets in different locations, the app will also show you the best-guided tour in your area, skip-the-line tickets and must-see attractions your destinations have to offer.
Landed gives you tips on the best local SIM card provider and explains the local currency and where to change money, and has a currency converter.
Great app to help track the countries you have traveled to.
Yelp is a great food app that can help you find the newest and hottest restaurants in your area, Make reservations and filter restaurant search results by price, location, open now
Zabihah is the largest guide to Halal restaurants.
Pro-tip: Each country will most likely have its own travel application which can help better plan your trip.
5. Smart Packing:
Whether you are a detailed packer or a last-minute packer packing can be hectic if you have never been to the location before. Googling about the weather can tell what temperature the country or city will be but it will not tell us exactly how the weather feels. Aisha suggests asking someone who has traveled to that place and packs accordingly. She also mentioned packing smart, when traveling to cold countries layering is key as you can take off clothing when the weather changes. Also, waterproof clothing is a new essential to Aisha’s travel wardrobe if she planning on doing outdoor activities such as hiking.
6. Camera equipment:
For all the travel photography fanatics Aisha and Majed share what camera equipment they take while traveling.
With experience, Aisha learned to carry two cameras when travel in case something happens to her main camera. Depending on the location Aisha uses either zoom or wide lens and Majed carries a Fuji Film XD 20 and uses a zoom lens as well. To protect his camera equipment he found that the best camera bag is from Wandr as it's waterproof which is ideal for outdoor activities.
For drone users, Majed says they can be used almost everywhere but research must be done on the exact location that you are planning to use it. Example Japan has a dedicated app for the no-fly zone.
Both Aisha and Majed prefer to spend their time taking pictures while traveling and leave the editing for when they get back, however, they do post on their Instagram stories for their audience. For editing her photos Aisha uses Adobe photoshop and uses Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor (on her phone) for on-the-go editing.
7. Respect the culture:
Every country has a set of cultural norms that they follow to respect each other as a traveler it can be hard to find out about each country’s norm. Our travel bloggers shared with us a few tips to help maintain respect between your culture and theirs.
Manar explains that accepting other cultures is very important and one must take it lightly when the person from the other country does not reciprocate in the same manner you are used to as each country has its own way of interaction.
Majed shares that learning a few words from their language such as hello and thank you goes a long way in respecting people. Also, go with an open mind don’t have expectations of the people’s culture but let your trip shape the image of that culture. He puts it poetically: “Let your travels be the brush that paints the image of that country or of the world for you”
Aisha suggests meeting the locals, one way of meeting the locals is by booking with a local travel agency where you’ll be more comfortable asking them questions about their culture instead of asking a stranger. Also, ask people who have been to that country the dos and don’ts when it comes to interacting with people of the country you are traveling to.
Where will your next trip be?