Travel planning – the details and finishing touches

I’ve just updated my planning page with some more tips on how I pull together an itinerary. I’ve added my process for booking flights and accommodation and finding great local restaurants.

4. The details – flights, accommodation and restaurants

Once I’m settled on an itinerary and know how long I’m going for, when I’m going and where I need to fly in and out of, it’s time to start booking things!


One of my favourite stays so far, Christmas time at the Four Seasons, Gresham Palace in Budapest

I usually use Skyscanner to find my flights. I’ll search for my route and date and then I can filter the results using the sliding buttons to find the times I want. I can also filter out the London airports that are less convenient for me to travel to.

I usually book direct with the airline on their website. I prefer not to book through a third party as it can make things more difficult if something goes wrong or you need to make changes.

To choose my accommodation I use as my first port of call, using the following process:

  1. Search for my location on my desired dates.
  2. Filter the results using the left hand menu to show me only properties with more than an 8 out of 10 traveller rating.
  3. Filter based on my preferred location and any other specifics (e.g. parking availability if I’m doing a driving tour).
  4. Sort by price.
  5. Select the highest rated, cheapest accommodation which fits my parameters. I usually try to go for free cancellation deals to give me some flexibility as my itinerary matures- this has been really useful on a number of trips.

The finishing touches

5. Fill in the gaps

I love this part! This is when I fill in my itinerary with activities and tours and places to eat. I’ll also pre-book any tickets for museums or attractions that I need. I try to keep pre-booked tickets to a minimum to keep the flexibility in my itinerary, but if you’re short on time and you know ticket queues can be long, then for some places it’s worth doing. The Louvre in Paris and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona are good examples of places worth pre-booking to avoid queues.


Book to avoid disappointment! The Sagrada Familia is a monument worth queue jumping

For restaurant bookings I largely rely on Googling the best places in that location and using a combination of Tripdavisor reviews, blog lists and newspaper articles to find some suggestions. It’s always worth asking friends and colleagues who have been there before as some insider knowledge can unearth some hidden gems.

I’ll usually put a few options that I’ve researched in my itinerary in the local area. I don’t always eat at them as it’s good to go with the flow when you’re away, but it’s good to have some options to fall back on if you’re not sure.

I also like to factor in some proper local gastronomic experiences on each trip, which might include finding a really busy place that locals love and also trying a local Michelin starred restaurant to enjoy a tasting menu. This can be a pricey option, but a tasting menu is a great way to experience lots of different local dishes in one sitting and makes a great first night dining option to relax and orientate yourself.

A course on the tasting menu at Fiskmarkaðurinn, Reykjavik

When your food comes in dry ice. A course on the tasting menu at Fiskmarkaðurinn, Reykjavik

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