How to book a trip
I was cleaning the other day, deep in thought and daydreaming, when a post idea occurred to me. What about web surfers reading the blog thinking about some of the travel ideas on here? How are they going to book a trip? What if they never went to another country before or think the only way is to go to a travel agent? So I decided to put together this post series. I’ll start with how to book a trip and in following posts, talk about planning what you can do on the trip, securing a visa for a country that requires it or even finding that “post graduation year abroad” teaching job. I’ll go over my findings with document authentication in case you desire going to China or Vietnam and are getting confused about other websites information.
For example: I just read this post called Mexico is a Vegan Paradise on VegWorld Magazine online. We want to go for Christmas and New Years Eve and are looking for a budget option.
Book a flight
1. Download Skyscanner app
2. Open the app and click the airplane for “Flights”. Enter the departing city (in this example it’s Miami) and the arrival city (this time it’s Mexico City). Tap on some dates and if you are flexible, you can try different combinations for a better price. Mexico City is popular then from Miami, so you pretty much can see prices immediately without having to search too much. Click around a few times and we end up with December 24th through January 2nd.
3. Click confirm and see screen below. If you will not be traveling alone, enter additional passengers. Click the search icon and watch the options appear. Click “Cheapest” to see most affordable on top. Click the time and airline that fits your budget and schedule, then confirm on next screen after reviewing details by tapping the green button on the bottom, “Choose a provider”. See screenshots below.
4. BudgetAir is the winner on lowest price this time, but keep in mind that baggage may not always be included. Read the details and if you need one, how much are they charging if not included? Can we travel with what they allow? Click green button, “GO TO SITE”. If you have enhanced tracking blocks, you will have to change it to the default setting in the browser. Usually you will see the best price with your dates and times already for purchase. Buy it by entering your details and payment information in next screens. It’s not asking for the passport, but it does say the information must match what is on your passport. Further research says you will need a passport, so if you don’t have one, review this link and prepare some paperwork in these steps. I found we only need the passport card to go to Mexico for 65$ and we can apply at the USPS in Miami. Look below at our phone images from the web.
Book the hotel
There are many options for securing the dates for an accomodation. It is possible to show up and wander around, but I usually like to know where I’m sleeping. It’s almost always cheaper that way, less stressful and convenient for planning your trip. Especially if you are guiding a date or travel companion. You both want to enjoy the romance of Mexico City, not fight about being hungry and there are “No Vacancy” signs everywhere. I like Booking.com app because often you won’t have to pay until you get there and it’s almost always reliable. I’ve only had one time a hotel changed management, didn’t honor the reservation nor did they inform booking.com about the change. Another good one for if you want to pay immediately, is Hotwire. Reason it’s fun is that you pick a general area and the hotel is revealed after you pay given price. It’s usually a really good deal, but still not as affordable as booking.com because they are typically more expensive hotels offering larger discounts. Booking.com will also show some hostels. Airbnb is much different and can be an awesome choice too. I dislike their app logo and often you may not be in the mood to communicate meeting up to get the key if applicable, but it’s a way to find many exotic places to stay. Looking now at Mexico City, there are tons of places with a big bang for your buck.
1. Download Booking.com app (and others if you have time). Open app and make sure “Stays” is highlighted at the top right. Click search icon and type in destination. Select “Mexico City” and then the dates on the calendar, “December 24th – January 2nd”.
2. Tap the blue rectangle “Search” and “Sort” button “Price (low to high)”. Automatically it will show by “Popularity” otherwise.
Many hostels and homestays show up first. You don’t have to be a “youth” to stay there. I was in Moscow once and there were some cute older people having tea with kids younger than me. Keep in mind though it’s not super private, can be noisy at night and could drive you crazy if you aren’t prepared or experienced. You could get lucky and it’s very quiet with excellent company, but not everyone likes that. One trip to Moscow I didn’t want to be alone and it worked perfect, another visit years later and it was a different place yet total disaster. Hostels have better locations than hotels sometimes too. Anyways we decide to use “Filter”, “Hotels” and click the blue rectangle “Show results”.
The top option is 2,770 MXN which is today about 133.79$. Our hotel is called Sonora. Pretty good for nine nights in a private queen. I’m a Genius member, so your price if you just downloaded the app and signed up, might be a little higher. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. You can check out photos, rules and location.
3. Reserve it! Tap the hotel, the blue rectangle “Select Rooms”, tap the room and then the blue rectangle “Reserve”. There is some VAT and city tax not included. These prices don’t have the standard tax anymore in the big price, so it’ll be a little higher. Some apps like Hotwire show the total price per night, so be careful with the details until you finally reserve. Especially if your credit card info is saved, you might be accidentally booked before you know it! Booking.com has typically generous free cancellations, but it’s not a good habit to get into. You might have to pay those local taxes on arrival if it’s out of the country, so read the small print under the price tag and print the details or take screenshots so there won’t be any confusion at the hotel. Also be prepared with deposit if a hotel requires it (either credit card or cash). I hate calling customer service and we want to avoid problems and stress; it’s vacation afterall. What if they speak only Spanish? Don’t worry if you have confirmations to show. Buy a small survival language book if you can.
4. Last thing to think about before we move on to another post. We don’t need a COVID-19 test for entering Mexico City, unless I’m mistaken. However we need one to get back. Here is one company with steps listed on their website. I think they are giving a discount for Aeroméxico passengers. That’s us!
What do you want to do there? Next in this post series, we’ll figure out how to make a plan. Otherwise you’ll be winging it. Not a bad choice too.