Travel Planning – a conceptual workflow and two resources to consider

I made my way back to Hanoi today. Vietnam Airlines is pretty nice and they make a really good attempt to leave and arrive on time. We did today. We left right at 1145am from Danang and got back at 1245 to Hanoi.

What I wanted to do is discuss two primary methods for reserving rooms either long stay or shorter. I use both and have found that sometimes one will offer a room while the other won’t so using both is no harm no foul. Here are the two and some notes to consider:

  1. Agoda. Agoda is a very nice travel application which lets you book hostels, hotels, and apartments as you need. The website works very well but the apps are nice too. I use the IOS app on my iPhone and it works very well to search, reserve, modify, or cancel reservations. The listings are really good for Asia and I have had really good luck for rooms in Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The nice thing about the service I think is the booking section and how it will alert you if you have booked for the same period twice. It will also try to use your calendar to get your reservations. I have found that this does not work so well with google calendar at times. The filter and search capabilities are very nice with this service. I have not seen where you can save search criteria. This would be nice if you had the same dollar amount or room size or other particulars to apply across searches.
  2. Booking.com. This is the second one and I have really been using it a lot for travel lately. It lets you see a view of rooms and the logic flow on how the rooms are priced, what size they are, how many beds, etc is really nice. This service does not have a savable search criteria either. I have found that the information presented on booking.com is very accurate and I will be able to find a vast variety of rooms and also look at their locations. You can refine the search and apply it. Change the dates and the service flows with the changes very well.

I think personally, either of these services will let you be able to accurately book rooms and also compare between the two and both have gazillions of offerings and let you adjust the logic of when and where on the fly. I found both of these to be particularly relevant for my particular use which is wanting longer stay rooms primarily. I am able to book up to 30 nights on either but an email to the owner through the app will let you discuss your needs further.

Now for some apps I use but not for booking travel much any more. I do not use Expedia since I left the states and I only use TripAdvisor to look at attractions, things I may want to do, and to do reviews. I think doing reviews allows one to engage in community discussion and I’ve acted on reviews a few times to either book or change my bookings. On TripAdvisor all I really see are bookings using the two services above so what’s the real point when I can just go to the sites.

The final point are the mobile apps for either. I found both to be fully representative of the types of services you may want on the go. Sitting in an airport lounge, on a bus, in a busy coffee shop. You want to be able to see your bookings, adjust them, delete them. Having the websites side by side in chrome tabs on my MacBook is very handy.

The final thing is saving all those pesky emails that confirm your travel, air, bus, ferry timings. Do you do this? I have a workflow for this using Ulysses where I create sheets or notes that capture the details or copy and paste them but I also export them as PDF or image files and attach them to the sheet for the place I am going. This lets me have a working set of information I can quickly get to in Ulysses to review the timing without launching a website.

How do you do this? Do you have a central repository or workflow? Use Gmail labels or folders for things? I do both but the workflow has been a lifesaver a few times for me. I can quickly see the details of a trip and was able to find issues with overlapping rooms that I then fixed on either Agoda or booking.com.

Using sites like this to plan accommodation has been a lifesaver for me. I really like both of them and will compare and contrast their offerings and often change from one to the other if I see something good. I think if I traveled more frequently like shorter duration stays, I would come up with something else. I used to use TripIt to consolidate the travel but I cannot see why I should buy into another app when I can use Ulysses to consolidate the information. Ulysses really is my information manager and I am still creating workflows for ideas and concepts, stories, blogposts, and journal entries. I am drawing these out in Mindnode which lets me see the connection points better than flat notes. Then I can create the workflow like I did for the travel.

This all works pretty well for me but may not for you at all.