Below are 5 tips which will help make your travel less stressful and maximise your enjoyment.
Tip 1 Apt Apps
In our last year of travel we used travel apps all the time – real stress reducers and time savers!
There are several apps we would recommend you use, but here are our top 3:
- Trip Advisor – this one is not just useful for giving you information, it’s worth it to write the reviews, see tip 2 as to how you help get room upgrades!
- com – great for currency conversion, so you can have a good idea what you are paying for in your own money, plus, once you’ve downloaded the currency rate, the app doesn’t need to be on Wifi to convert.
- Airbnb – this is great if you want more of a homestay feel, just be careful of ‘real’ hotels on this site, especially in Australia and Asia, as this is meant to be truly staying in someone’s spare room or place (We will send you a voucher to save you £16 on your first booking with Air BnB, check your inbox following this email, you should receive this within a few days – this will only work for first time Air BnB customers).
Tip 2 Talk to your hotel
Sounds simple, it is and it works. Getting a hotel room upgrade is a bit like finding the Holy Grail, how do you get that elusive room upgrade? Our suggestions work best with small to medium size hotels. The larger hotels tend to be more loyal to their member programmes and are less personal.
We can’t guarantee anything, but this is what we’ve tried:
- Find Your Hotel with great reviews on Trip Advisor or other recommendation.
- Book the room.
- Arrive from airport, train or bus – if you can, get the accommodation to pick you up.
- Explain you have read about their hotel on Trip Advisor or wherever you heard about them – say you are looking forward to your stay and show them how many reviews you’ve done on Trip Advisor by sending a link to your reviews page.
- Ask for something special, like an extra pillow or a quiet room or whatever you would really like.
- You might just get that all elusive surprise upgrade! At worst, you will have a name of someone already at the hotel, which you can refer to and say ‘Hello!’
Tip 3 Travel when it’s Cheapest
We spent 4 months in South East Asia travelling around in the low season. It was a lot less hectic and the queues shorter. You will find hotels are much more generous in giving you a room upgrade, especially, if you link this tip with tip two.
Tip 4 Some tips on how to use Trip Advisor
Sometimes you can find that the reviews don’t match with what you see in person, below are 3 tips on how to avoid these disappointments:
- Look for hotels which are ranked 20-40 as, we found, these are the best for value, efficiency and friendliness.
- Ignore all reviews where the reviewer has less than 40 reviews and check out their profile, see if you can see a pattern in how and what they write.
- Read the terrible reviews, if it is just one review from the contributor with no profile it is likely they are exaggerating. Plus these reviews give you a chance to see how the management responds or not to the problems.
Tip 5 Make sure the cards work!
We ran into the problem where Debbie had her cards all cut off because she thought she had all her mobile online access apps and accounts working, but it was another story when she got overseas.
Our top 3 tips to help you avoid this problem:
- Wherever you can, sort out your stuff inside the bank with a ‘real’ person, so you can see and make sure that they have entered when you are away or do it online and then go in and check that it actually shows up on your account by speaking to a real person.
- Test all your online access and apps about 3 times before you leave, so that you know they are working’
- Whatever you do, do not forget passwords or login names, if you do, you may run into the problem of needing to go into a bank or make a very expensive phone call to try to reset your password or login name.