Why I like Planning a Trip Myself.

I love planning trips - in fact I plan some *wishful* trips to the nth detail and then discuss with friends. It's fun because you get your hands dirty with minor details that you would've otherwise missed out on while planning on your own.

I know there are many of you out there who'd think it's easier to take a package tour at an unbelievable rate from yatra.com or cox&kings or makemytrip.com. In fact, it is true, you can get an excellent deal sometimes. ( most times ) - then why plan on your own ? Why not get the best deal from a travel e-commerce site ? 

I have my own reasons ! And here are the top 5.

1.    I love the thrill of figuring things out on my own from currency conversion rates to commonly used phrases in the local language ! I sometimes go an extra mile and read up the history of the destination I intend to go. This gives a great context and a high level of engagement that may not other wise come through. Imagine reaching Phnom Penh and greeting a local with Chom Reab Sour (hello).

2.    I use airbnb.com quite often to find out how it is like to live in one of the homes that belongs to a local. No doubt the 4 or 5 star hotels are always a good choice, but there’s a different charm to living in one of the homes that’s been built by a local ( you can choose a luxurious home too if your budget allows ). The hosts are usually very helpful and suggest a lot of things to do locally. I often find myself going to google maps to figure out localities and distances. Typically, if you choose a package tour you won't be able to choose your own accomodation!

3.    I use Tripadvisor.com to find out the things to do. Yes, the number 1 and number 2 attractions are always the safest choice, but what about the lesser known attractions ? In that sense, tripadvisor provides a lot of information since it is crowd sourced ! Go beyond the number 1/2 and you’ll be amazed ( this is usually missed out in a tour package ) - lonelyplanet.com also helps !

4.    Making a budget estimate is exciting ( for me ) – and not missing out the small details. Some of which are :
Airport to Home / Hotel transfer fare
Even if it’s Visa on Arrival ( VOA ) – it’s usually not free
If it’s not VOA, then the whole process of getting a visa and the cost involved
Average costs of lunch and dinner – Breakfast is usually included
Bike / Car rental costs – go an extra mile and check for fuel prices in the region
Entrance fees to certain areas / monuments maybe be negligible, but certain fees may well go to a few dollars.
Money involved in doing the things you love ( getting a spa/ massage is one of those things for me )

5.     I do not like being on a tight schedule – I also do not like being part of a group that has a tour guide ( you can get unlucky and get someone who’s, well, unhappy about his job ). A lot of things are out of your control in that case. For example – you could get an annoying person in the group who whines about everything – Your trip could go from good to bad very easily. I’d rather prefer known company.

" I’d rather be a little lost in a foreign country than have a tour guide tell me what to do. "

So in short, I’d rather plan my own trip ! Because planning is a part of the journey for me, and I like planning ;) 

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  1. #3. Connect with a local through friends/ twitter/ facebook to find out the places, the cafes, bars, local attractions that a trip advisor will not list. Google for local events or festivals. You might hit a beautiful parade during your visit that happens only once a year. Also, once at the place, always look for brouchers in hotel lobby and sometimes some interesting activities come up
    #4. h: Look out for free meuseum days (Yes, a lots of cities have them)
    i: Google for local discounts, may not be always listed on main sites
    j: Combo tickets to many attractions - saves time and money
    k: Feasibility of local transport and passes - This may be cheapest, fastest and best way to travel
    #5: Agree, never make a water tight schedule. Prefer quality over quantity and if at the moment putting feet in water is giving a joy, stick to that. Although, do not miss chance to have a coffee with an interesting person you met on the trip.
    #6: Use around me app to find out anyting around you. e.g. a natural ice cream joint :)
    #7: Look for best music in the city: It will not necessarly be the most hyped place that may be similar to many others around the world but a small local one. Also, find out which place is best on a day (yes, it can vary from Tuesday to Friday to Sunday, go where locals go and when they go). This will also be cheaper.

    1. hey ! thanks so much for teh comment !
      Yea, around me app is a new for me, will definitely try it out ! and yes, checking out local events is a great idea !
      Museums and free entry fees is a also something i missed out ! thanks :)