DREAM­ING OF THAT SUM­MER DES­TI­NA­TION

7 Days in Dubai - - FAMILY - flight­cen­tre.ae

So you want to go away, but don’t know where to start and what to do? We caught up with Flight Cen­tre’s Michelle Smith for a bit of in­spi­ra­tion and advice.

What is the first thing you do when plan­ning your va­ca­tion?

Plan­ning is al­most as much fun as the trip so get stuck into the dream­ing phase. I al­ways ask friends and fam­ily for their rec­om­men­da­tions and reach out to any­one in my net­work who has lived or trav­elled to my next des­ti­na­tion. These tid­bits from fel­low trav­ellers and lo­cals are the most valu­able in­for­ma­tion for find­ing au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ences.

In­sta­gram is my sec­ond go-to. The hash­tag #open­my­world gives me an end­less feed of unique des­ti­na­tions all over the world.

What re­sources would you rec­om­mend?

Sites like book­ing.com and clear­trip.ae are ex­cel­lent for com­par­ing point-to­point air­fares and ho­tel prices but don’t dis­count your lo­cal travel agent.

On top of of­fer­ing a low­est air­fare guar­an­tee and Price Drop Pro­tec­tion for 30 days on air­fares, your agent is also an ex­pert on travel.

We love shar­ing our per­sonal travel sto­ries with our cus­tomers to make sure they have the most au­then­tic and ex­cel­lent value for money trip.

How far in ad­vance should we book flights to get the best price?

The UAE is a typ­i­cally last-minute travel mar­ket - it seems we don’t like to com­mit to any­thing too early. But trav­ellers can save on av­er­age 40 per cent on ticket price by book­ing 21 days in ad­vance.

As a min­i­mum we rec­om­mend to book at least three weeks in ad­vance. The ear­lier the bet­ter in re­al­ity.

Are there any meth­ods peo­ple use to book hol­i­days that aren’t ef­fec­tive?

There are some companies that of­fer the ‘voucher model’, which may seem like a cheaper al­ter­na­tive for cus­tomers look­ing for a bud­get op­tion. In most cases the prod­uct of­fered is poor and trav­ellers can even end up pay­ing more on trans­porta­tion only as the ho­tels are of­ten in dif­fi­cult lo­ca­tions. The cus­tomers are of­ten stuck with in­con­ve­nient travel dates. So while it may seem like a cheap op­tion up front, they can some­times turn into ter­ri­ble travel ex­pe­ri­ences.

What are the key fac­tors to keep in mind when book­ing a trip?

Visas! So many trav­ellers leave these to the last minute. But for some des­ti­na­tions, visas can take some time. It’s im­por­tant to be pre­pared and plan your trips early - not only will you save money on air­fares by book­ing early, but it also means you can or­gan­ise your visa with enough time as well.

What’s your dream des­ti­na­tion at the mo­ment?

It has to be Patag­o­nia (in South Amer­ica) - it looks like the end of the world with the dra­matic glaciers and arid land­scape. Bruce Chatwin’s In Patag­o­nia ro­man­ti­cised the des­ti­na­tion and it feels like one of the last places on earth that hasn’t been com­mer­cialised.

Do you have any tips and tricks for trav­el­ling on a bud­get?

Free walk­ing tours! In most ma­jor cities you can find a free walk­ing tour that is run by lo­cals and pay­ment is pro­vided by tips. In Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, I ac­tu­ally did a free bike tour of the city and the tour guide ended up tak­ing us to din­ner with friends so we felt like we had a truly lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

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