It seems like planning a trip to Southeast Asia should be simple. We live in the age of the internet and smartphones and drones after all. There is more information available to us than ever before – anywhere, anytime – at the click of a button or the tap of a few fingertips.
This is where it gets difficult, though. There’s so much information out there, so many competing brands straining to reach your wallet and so much choice. It’s overwhelming, if not a little daunting.
So, who can you trust and what’s the best way to get the information you need to plan your trip? While there is no definitive answer or ‘go-to’, we’ve compiled a few sources below to make things a little easier for you.
Lonely Planet travel guide
You can’t go past the tried and true. While a bunch of shiny new travel guides and websites are popping up left, right and centre, it’s always good to go with a trusted brand with loads of experience in the market.
Lonely Planet has been around since the 1970s and has guides for just about every destination you can think of.
It has many strengths: the guide is updated each year – meaning you can always be sure you’re getting up-to-date, relevant information; it suggests a wide range of accommodation and activities to suit different budgets; and the guide is packed full of useful information about each destination (history, how to be culturally sensitive, population, religious denominations etc).
It’s especially useful when you’re visiting a destination where access to WIFI or data is scarce.
But for all its strengths there has to be a weakness or two. Because it’s such a popular publication, its suggested off-the-beaten track destinations or activities tend not to stay off-the-beaten-track for long. It’s also easy to become too reliant on the guide book without following your nose and doing your own exploring.
But, minor criticisms aside, it’s a reliable guide, with relevant and useful information for planning your trip and we highly doubt any traveller would regret having one in their back pocket.
More and more travel bloggers are popping up on the internet, and with each popular blogger, a slither of the travel industry’s market share goes with them. Though some have sponsorship deals and are associated with other brands, generally they are a great, neutral source of relevant and useful information.
You can find bloggers to suit any kind of traveller: from solo, to family, to vegan, to budget, to the allergen-prone or the fitness obsessed. The niches available in the blogosphere are endless.
Here are a few bloggers we recommend:
- Where’s Sharon? : This blog is a great resource for those wanting to travel “smarter, cheaper and better” with kids. Sharon is married with two kids and she blogs about her family’s travels in all far flung corners of the world. [link – https://www.wheressharon.com/family-travel-blog-2/]
- World Travel Family: This is another great family blog. The family has been traveling for four years non-stop to many destinations and it’s packed full of helpful tips and advice and child-friendly activities. https://worldtravelfamily.com/travel-with-children-family-world-travel-blog/
- Nomadic Matt: This blog is aimed more at those who are looking to travel on a budget. It’s a well-designed website and very easy to navigate compared to some other blogger’s sites. On this site you’ll find all sorts of helpful tips, like what to pack for where and even detailed destination and city guides. https://www.nomadicmatt.com/
- Ashley Abroad: Ashley has travelled all over the world and her blog is packed full of helpful advice and tips and great photography. It is especially inspiring for solo female travellers. https://www.ashleyabroad.com/
- Bucket List Journey: This award-winning blog is written by restaurant owner Annette who travels all over the world, often with her husband. She offers great lists of activities in different destinations and as a restaurateur she is good at scoping out the best food joints. https://bucketlistjourney.net/about/
- A World to Travel: This Spanish couple is passionate about travel and take a trip once a month. They’ve posted insider’s guides to Thai beaches, hotels they like, destination highlights and even how to get open water certified. http://www.aworldtotravel.com/
Booking.com is a great website which offers a range of accommodation options: from budget, to mid-range to luxury. The site gives plenty of options in the search bar to look up the type of accommodation you’re after, the number of people, your price range and other filtering options.
The only beef we have with Booking.com is that it can feel a bit spammy and dramatic when booking.
Any accommodation you choose seems to be about to sell out, and it will try to push you into booking by telling you how many people have booked similar rooms in the past hour. It’s easy to book in a rush thinking your perfect room will sell out only to find the same accommodation on the site days later.
It’s an excellent resource with some well-rated and trusted accommodation on there, but just breathe and take your time when booking.
Now, we tentatively add this option in. Trip Advisor can be a great resource but in some circumstances, it should be taken with a grain of salt. The platform offers user reviews of hotels, activities, restaurants and various other services you require or enjoy while traveling. It is a useful site for finding out information about activities or services you want to find out more about. Some reviewers put a lot of time and effort into their reviews and often include photos too.
But, there are cons. There is often a dichotomy of opinions, making it a bit difficult to know which reviewers to trust and if they share your tastes and preferences. Also, there are many fake reviewers out there too. So, while it is a valuable tool for getting an overview and finding out a little more, it’s good to be discerning when using Trip Advisor to plan or research.
Leave it to a pro
If you’ve done your research (or even if you haven’t) and you’re still feeling overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort that goes into planning, then why not contact a travel operator.
These companies have been around for a long time, they’re professionals, can generally work to your budget and know their destinations like the back of their hands.
As the travel industry has become more competitive, travel operators have greatly improved their destinations and travel style options and decreased their prices. So, now, more than any time in the past is the best time to book through a travel operator.
Once you’re away if anything goes wrong you can get your travel operator on the phone straight away to sort things out.
Annie Scrivanich, a senior vice president for Cruise Specialists, a Seattle-based travel agency said:
“The value of a travel agent is immeasurable. Today’s travel agent is highly trained, well-traveled and has an extensive Rolodex of industry contacts, just in case they need to call in a favor. You’d have to spend half your free time online and the other half on the road to come close to that level of expertise.”
We hope you gained some useful advice and tips from this article. If you need any travel advice or are interested in booking a tour, you can visit our website: www.sensasia.com then drop us a line. The consultation is free and there’s no obligation to purchase.
By Holly Michelle