I hate planning holidays. I will book plane tickets for a 3-week backpacking adventure and a few days before departure realise that I really need to book a hostel for the first night and make sure I have an airport pickup. From the moment that I’ve booked my flight until the moment I leave, I can’t be bothered to really sit down to figure out my trip.
If I know someone who has been to my holiday destination, I ask him/her for tips, and then figure out everything else when I land.
Wouldn’t it be handy to have a speed dial to an acquaintance who can tell me where to go and stay so that I’ll never have to worry about holiday planning again?
I’ve planned a holiday to Thailand so this will be a nice experiment: via which way will I get my insider tips? I set up a survey for friends and family about their holiday planning preferences. From this survey, I come up with the idea of creating a Google Spreadsheet with a list of the world’s countries and ask friends and colleagues which cities they could elaborate about.
In order to test this problem more broadly, I advertise my idea ‘The SmallWorld for Travel’ at the coffee station where I work.
Once a large part of the countries have an ‘insider’, I ask around whether anyone wants to get in touch via email or phone to ask for holiday tips.
Personal findings planning my trip to Thailand
Before departure various colleagues, family and friends tell me about their highlights, so I get a general sense of where to go and what to do. I buy a second hand Lonely Planet, but a colleague tells me I can get a cheap sim card with internet so once I land, I hardly touch my LP. Instead, I check Pinterest a lot for sightseeing tips, restaurants and coffee bars. During my trip, I get most tips from other backpackers and hostel hosts. Occasionally I stress out about not having a plan for my next destination. During those stressful moments, I take action, sit down and figure out my itinerary and activities. In the end I conclude I wouldn’t pay for my own TravelPlatform if I were a user, as the trip has shown that there’s an abundance of sources for free travel tips.
From the +/- 20 – 30 participants in the Google Sheet, only 2 get in touch to call about a holiday to Iceland. My friend who’s going there appreciates the call, but tells me there’s a small catch: you have to be into the same things in order to really get useful tips. Also, she tells me she wouldn’t pay for such a service.
Setting up the survey + inviting people, creating the Google Spreadsheet and my offline advertisements: not more than 8 hours altogether.
If you’re on the lazy side to plan trips like me, I realised it’s not necessary to plan every detail ahead of time. You might have a little less stress during the holiday if you did plan more and do more research upfront, but at the same time not having a clear plan allows you to stay flexible during the trip. There are more than plenty of ways to get free tips from colleagues, friends and family, local hostel hosts and other backpackers, and online sources such as booking.com, Pinterest, and Tripadvisor.
There’s really no need for a travel platform. Glad that I figured it out. On to the next idea!