10 Tips For Better Travel in 2017

1. Plan your trip: Wikivoyage
Bart-Lapers-Dubrovnik-seen-from-Fort-Imperial-Srd-Mountain

I’m a big fan of Wikivoyage, the Wikipedia of travel. For each country, region, city you’ll find a page loaded with practical information ordered in recurring sections (Get-in, Get Around, See, Do, Buy, Eat, Drink, Sleep, …) an excellent resource to start planning your trip. I usually combine this with some research on Flyertalk, a huge frequent traveller forum where you can find a lot of info about hotels, airlines and destinations. For example, I found the contact details of a good driver in Bali via Flyertalk. Once I’m at my destination, I use the app Foursquare to get local tips on things to see & do, find good bars & restaurants, etc…

2. Best flight deals: Google Flights
Austrian-Airlines-B767-300-business-class

Google Flights is my favorite tool to look for flights. Just enter your travel dates, hit ‘explore destinations’ and Google will show you a map where you can travel for the lowest price. Once you have found the flights you want to book, make sure to check Momondo to ensure you book at the lowest price. Read more tips & tricks to book cheap flights.

3. Best hotel deals: HotelsCombined
Bathroom-with-a-view-W-Retreat-Spa-Bali

You can score fantastic hotel deals with a wide range of tips & tricks which I’ve written about before. The absolute minimum effort you should make before finalizing your hotel booking is comparing hotel rates via an aggregator. HotelsCombined and Trivago are reliable ones.

4. Try alternative accommodation: Airbnb

Rooftop-pool-at-Hotel-Indigo-Hong-Kong-Island

Still haven’t tried Airbnb yet? You can now get up to €77 discount! I often use Airbnb when regular accommodation is not available or too expensive. New users can now book any accommodation with €30 discount using my Airbnb referral link. On top of that, both new and existing users can earn €47 Airbnb credit for a ‘business’ stay.

5. Best seats on the plane: SeatGuru
Lufthansa-First-Class-Bart-Lapers-full-flat-bed-seat-A330-300

Not all airline seats are created equal, in fact you can have a complete different inflight experience by selecting the right seat! Most people don’t do much research when selecting their seat, which is an advantage for you. If you have the opportunity to select your seat at the time of booking, make sure to do it. In case you need to wait until online check-in is open, set a reminder in your agenda to be one of the first to check-in online. You can use tools like Seatguru to determine what are the good seats or by googling something like “name of the airline + type of aircraft + best seats” e.g. “British Airways A380 Best Business Class seats”. You might end up one a frequent flyer blog like mine where I indicate the best business class seat on the British Airways A380 is 53K as it has its own private aisle access. 😉

6. Know your rights: Passenger Rights app
Qatar-Airways-Business-Class-Check-In-Doha-Hamad-International-Airport

Be prepared for when things go wrong. Install the EU Commission Passenger Rights app. It provides you will all possible transportation scenarios where things can go wrong (air, rail, ship or bus) and what your rights are.

7. Local transportation: Rome2Rio
bart-lapers-Porsche-911-Carrera-4S-Cabriolet-Frankfurt

Another fantastic app is Rome2Rio. It provides you with all transportation options between two points including how much they would cost. For example, it would tell you how to get from the airport to your hotel (train, bus, boat, taxi, uber, …) include the estimated price and even link to the bus, train or boat schedules…. it works like magic! Also don’t forget to install the Uber app and its most popular clones. I use Uber (Worldwide – €10 off first rideGett (UK – £50 of free credit) and Grab (Southeast Asia).

8. Avoid exchange & ATM fees: Revolut
which-credit-card-to-use-abroad-travel

Most debit cards and credit cards charge a fee when you make a payment in a foreign currency (conversion fee) or when you withdraw money from an ATM. I’ve written about this topic before in my article “How to pay when traveling abroad“. Most of what I mention in that article is still valid, however the BCKP VISA card which I recommended for my Belgian readers is no longer available. Fortunately, there are a number of new players on the financial market (FinTech) offering solutions. One of them is Revolut, a debit MasterCard. I’ve been using the card for almost a year now, and I love it. Why? There are no fees for payments in foreign currencies or ATM withdrawals*! This is perfect for that weekend getaway to Poland where you only need a small amount of Polish Zsloty and don’t want to be hit with a €5 ATM fee and 2.5% conversion fee! The Revolut card can be requested by installing the Revolut app from the Apple or Android store. The app allows you to manage all the aspects of the card and keep track of your expenses. Total cost: €7 to ship you the physical MasterCard. (*ATM: Free up to £200 or currency equivalent per calendar month, foreign currency payments: live interbank rate with no fees up to £5000 or currency equivalent per calendar month)

9. Earn miles when you spend: Amex

Lufthansa-First-Class-Caviar-Service
Did you know you can earn airline miles even when shopping groceries or buying gas? Make sure to pay as much possible with your Brussels Airlines American Express card (Euro payments only, use Revolut for foreign currencies!). You can redeem the earned Miles & More miles for Business or First Class flights you would normally not be able to afford. Why not try Lufthansa First Class? For as little as 62000 miles you can fly First Class to the Middle-East!

10. Keep track of your points: AwardWallet

Monitor-your-hotel-booking
Not yet collecting airlines miles and hotel points? The beginning of the year is a great time start! Sign-up for your favorite airline and hotel’s loyalty programs now. The good news is you can track all your loyalty program balances with one toolAwardWallet. Enter your airline and hotel loyalty card numbers and AwardWallet will take care of the rest. You’ll even get email notifications when points or miles are about to expire. Use promo code free-shadir for a free upgrade to an AwardWallet Plus account.

Conclusion

I’m confident several of these tips & tricks will make your travel more affordable and enjoyable in 2017. Do you already have trips booked for 2017? Any tips & tricks you want the share with us? Please let us know in the comments section below. I wish you all happy & safe travels in 2017!

25 Comments on “10 Tips For Better Travel in 2017

  1. Another tip: I just installed the Google Tips app. Also a very nice app for planning your (city)trips. It automatically collects reservation data from your gmail account.

  2. Just wonder how you claim the airbnb ‘business’ referral credit? There’s no link to your account?

  3. Booking with hotel.com (if your usual hotel chain is not available) can earn you a free night. They also have a loyalty program and we use it if their prices are lox and there’s no other program we’re member of.
    This year we’re heading for tokyo, just started to look for tips.

  4. Bart, what SIM card/cellphone plan do you use when travelling?

    Thanks for this list and everything you write on the blog!

  5. Thanks Bart, fantastic information from a wonderfull looking man!!
    Wish to see u in person

  6. Hey Bart,

    thanks for the tips! Just sitting in the plane from Jo-burg to Frankfurt and downloaded some apps you described. Especially Rome2rio is very cool. I was searching already something like the AwardWallet, now I have it

    Perfect

  7. Hi Bart, Do you have any suggestion about upgrade option? For example I bought an economy class ticket , on the day I travel I ask airline ground staff for pay upgrade. Is that the best way to spend less for flying comfort?

    • Hi Worapol, these days most airlines offer online upgrade options (e.g. via bidding) Check your airlines website for the upgrade options they offer. If you have any specific questions about a particular airline, feel free to let me know. Enjoy your (upgraded) flight!

  8. What very useful travel tips. I have bookmarked the link re car hire insurance as we are just about to book car hire.

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