Let’s Book It!

Published on 27 March 2023 at 00:40

As soon as I've selected my dates and destination, I start booking flights and accommodations. I try to plan a flexible schedule because that can save money, especially on flights. Due to a few bad experiences with third party bookings, I now get my flights directly from the airline. I also purchase travel insurance, which I didn't do when I was younger, because it gives me peace of mind.

I do prefer to fly out of the smaller airport in my hometown instead of driving to a larger city, even if the flights appear to be cheaper. By the time you’ve driven two or more hours and potentially had to book a hotel room for an evening or had to park a car in a garage while you’re gone, you’ve spent most of (or more than) the money you saved on the flight!

Even more important than how I get there is where I’m staying. When looking for accommodations while traveling, there are so many interesting options. I have stayed in college dormitories, small boutique hotels, budget hotels, major hotel chains, beach resort houses, beautiful apartment rentals, cozy B&Bs, couches and floors of friends and family, and once, memorably, the guest house of a mansion so luxurious that the private movie theater was a footnote. (I also spent exactly one night of my life in a tent. Never again.) Sometimes I found and booked these places, sometimes I was staying in a room provided as part of a conference or group trip. On my most recent international trips, my daughters each did the searching and booking, with my input. They used a third-party website where Caroline found a beautiful hilltop apartment in the Jeju resort area and Courtney found a precious boutique hotel in Paris. My first thought for booking is usually to check the website of the major hotel group where I've been earning points for years, and even though I enjoy those hotels, they don’t always have the best options for price or location. This was true in both Jeju and Paris, where the prices on those hotel brands were extremely high compared to the spacious apartment and the wonderfully located hotel. 

Window view from the Nouvel Hôtel in Paris

When choosing a place to stay, I consider price, proximity to public transportation, ratings, my travel partners, and how long I’ll stay. As an educator traveling for work, I stayed in major hotel chains for conferences, but a couple of times I spent a week or more in a college dorm, always able to walk to the event or class I was attending. I prefer not to rent cars, and I like to minimize the number of taxis I use, so accommodations within easy walking distance of a bus or subway/metro stop are a must. I've been so fortunate to have flexible travel partners in my daughters, who are always willing to try something new. They've learned from me and their own experiences that you can stay anywhere for one night, but for several nights you want to be sure you’re somewhere clean, comfortable, and convenient. 

A skyline view of Seoul