01. GETTING STARTED
When your travel plans are simple and/or you are computer savvy and you don't want to pay to have someone do the grunt work for you, you're probably more than ready to make your own travel arrangements. The more experienced a traveler you are, the easier it is to enjoy DIY trips and vacations. And the Internet makes planning so much easier than it is used to be!
Let's assume you're planning a trip to London for sightseeing, play-going, and museum trotting. You will start off by getting your airline tickets. There are ways to go by ship if you have the time and want the ocean voyage experience. More on that later.
02. AIRLINE TICKETS
Shop Around: First, see which airlines will get you there by the most direct route. Expediter sites such as Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline, are good places to start. Pick the best looking alternative and call that airline's reservation number to see what they're asking for that same flight. Some airlines offer better prices by phone than on their own website.
There is one major advantage to purchasing your ticket directly from the airline even if it is a bit more expensive. And that is - if things go wrong: missed connections, canceled flights, or changes in itinerary - these situations are more easily handled by dealing directly with the airline. And in the worse case - the airline might refuse to help if you have booked your flights through an expediter.
Recently when planning a trip to Vancouver Island from our home in Florida, we found that the airline could schedule our complicated flight choices involving an "open jaw" both more efficiently and more cheaply than we could arrange it on any of the internet travel sites.
The Internet has made this part of DIY travel easy as well. There are so many sites to help you select the type of accommodation you want from a 5-star property to a tent site as well as providing reviews of the facilities, prices, locations and suggested activities in the area you choose.
Airbnb.com, Hotels.com, Trivago.com, Booking.com, and Priceline.com in addition to the websites already mentioned for airline reservations are rich sources of information. TripAdvisor.com is also helpful with reviews, suggestions, and lists of things to do when you arrive.
You can also go directly to city sites to find hotels and other suggestions as well as restaurants and activities. Find the hotel you think looks perfect and go to that property's website to get a virtual tour of the place and find any special price deals.
04. RENTAL CARS
If you want to drive a rental car on your vacation, whether at home or in some foreign destination, the most important thing you should do is to check the insurance coverage plans available to you.
Most credit cards offer some form of rental car insurance if you rent the car on their card. But it is important to realize that not all cards are created equal in this matter.
Before you check your card's coverage, be sure to check with your own auto insurance company to see what special limits it may put on coverage for driving rental cars either in the USA or in another country. This can vary depending on the state in which you live.
ALERT: Most credit card companies require that you DECLINE the rental car company insurance if you want to use the credit card's offering. Ask your own company.
05. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
Lastly - Remember - you are responsible for all the items in this site's section "Prepare to Go." Pay particular attention to the section on Visa and Passport Alerts.
Be sure you understand all that has to be accomplished before you set off for your adventure and make sure it is getting done in a timely manner - whether by yourself or others. If a visa doesn't get done on time or your passport will be out of date before you get home - your trip is over before it begins.