In exactly one month from today I will be on a flight bound for Hong Kong, starting a whirlwind trip through China, Thailand and Vietnam. When I look at today – a deathly boring day by any standard – and imagine myself this time next month, it’s like imagining that scene from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps into the technicolor world of Oz.
Blame January Blues, the parade of cloudy days, my persistent flu or lack of Vitamin D, but everything at the moment feels lazy. It’s in the middle of this lazy fest – during my couch potato reign – that I must now plan the trip of a lifetime to Asia.
We’ve all been here. As much as we live and breathe travel – the fact is that planning a trip can be just as tedious as it can be exciting. Yes – booking my overnight stay at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park was exhilarating but researching cheap connecting flights around Asia? Not so much.
So, whether you’re in the throes of January’s Blues (I feel you) or too congested to bother with trip details (I also feel you), here’s the lazy girl’s guide to planning a trip without half ass planning your adventure and upsetting your future self or worse, giving up on the trip entirely.
The lazy way to buy a flight.
I can tell you how to save on airfare and scour the internet for deals, but that takes effort and this is the…ahem..lazy guide to planning a trip. If you’re not in the right place, then please take a look at this post on saving airfare in 4 easy steps.
For those still with me, let me introduce you to Hopper – my favorite travel app for searching flights. Hopper works like most flight search engines do – you type in your home airport, intended destination, time frame and are served results; but what sets the app apart is the “Watch This Trip” function.
When you find a route you’re keen on booking – let’s say New York to Hong Kong – you select “Watch This Trip” and then Hopper will monitor the flight every day for you. Whenever the price fluctuates, the app will send you live updates telling you to either book the flight ASAP as prices won’t get any lower, or to hold on booking since you could save more by waiting. In other words, Hopper does all the work for you. Lazy travelers, rejoice!
The lazy way to plan your trip.
So you’ve bought your flight – congrats! Next step is to plan what you’ll actually be doing when you land. This can be a lot of fun for most travelers depending on what interests you. For some, this means learning the history, for others this means studying the bar scene, for someone else this could mean discovering the food. A lazy way to research your upcoming trip is through videos.
I’m a BIG fan of Anthony Bourdain’s Part’s Unknown and former No Reservations show, which do excellent jobs of unveiling a destination’s history and food scene. In addition, I like to watch YouTube videos of what other travel bloggers have done in the destination I’m visiting as they can often share good inside tips and off-the-beaten-path ideas. Finally, Netflix (the mecca of lazy-dom) is home to fantastic documentaries, so see if you can find one on the destination(s) you’re traveling to, to learn more about its history and culture.
The lazy way to book hotels.
Booking hotels can be a time consuming process as you research, read through reviews and scour the internet for good places to stay in the right neighborhood. If you’re feeling lazy, then turn towards your social media network.
Facebook has a pretty nifty “recommendation” function now when you put out a status asking for recommendations, it will pop up a map of the area you’re asking about so your friends and family can add to the map. When looking for places to stay during my trip, I leaned on my network of friends, family, travel bloggers, co-workers and pretty much anyone in my social network to share their recommendations with me. Once I landed on a few places, I turned towards hotel/hostel search engines to read the latest reviews, check prices and book. Done and done!
The lazy way to prepare for a trip.
Let me start by saying that when I am on a trip, I am anything but lazy. Lest you think I’m a blob of a human being permanently attached to a couch! Haha. That being said, I don’t like to plan every day of my trip – my planning goes so far as to prearrange hotels, transportations and any activities that need advance booking. Beyond the practicalities of the trip, I leave the rest up to spontaneity and in the moment decision making – that’s simply the way I love to travel.
My trip preparation is fairly simple – once I have my flights booked, hotels booked, have some sense of what I hope to see/do and have any other advance bookings made, I print out all confirmations and save them in a physical folder to bring on the trip with me. Then, I look at any practicalities for the trip such as vaccines I might need, visa requirements to consider, any remaining balances of reservations I made that might be due on arrival, how much spending cash I want to bring, etc.
The fact is there is no “lazy way” to go about the practicalities as it is these very practicalities that can make or break a trip. But – as this is the lazy guide to trip planning, here’s a easy check list to use in your planning.