DREAMING OF THAT SUMMER DESTINATION
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.