Itinerary, bookings, notes: here the journey begins

Now that the destination is fixed, It ‘s time to define the itinerary, book hotels, domestic flights, trains, buses, in practice, as the famous quote “Every journey begins with a single step”, this is already the first step of a journey just begun , my trip to Vietnam.

Where do I find all the information?

First of all, searches begin with a nice reading my favourite guide, Lonely Planet, from which I take ideas, suggestions and references to the places to visit, itineraries, hotels reviewed. I find it very useful the chapters of generic information on the country, where I find all the practical information about the culture and tradition as well as numbers and useful addresses, health and technical information (currency, electricity, telephone connection etc.).

At this point, to start defining the route, I continue the search in the vast sea of the internet, and this requires a lot of patience, experience and time. I start from the famous search engine and choose the results that come mostly from other blogs and travel forums, avoiding the agencies sites. Nothing against them, but I prefer to read real travel experiences and articles written by travellers like me.

Disentangle from the thousands of quotes and reviews it is not easy, so I try to find original and realistic advice, which is not very easy, but also catch the emotions and feelings, both positive and negative that the author lived during the journey. Of course, it remains entirely subjective, so take everything with a grain of salt, but it certainly helps to extricate me a thousand questions.

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Which site to book hotels?

Once defined the route, I need to book accommodations for the night. I take the Lonely Planet again, and I note down the names of reviewed hotels that hit me somehow. After that, I do a search on TripAdvisor to read all the comments and reviews it has the structure. I do not trust completely everything, of course, there are many variables in the judgments, starting with the personal tastes, so I try mostly to read between the lines and figure out if there are recurrent criticisms or compliments. For example, if the majority of comments refers all to a particular subject, like positive or negative comments on the cleanliness of the room or on the quality of the breakfast, it will mean that something in it is true, and this affects my choice.

At the same time, I always do a separate research on Trip Advisor and Booking (filtering for higher rating review), to select other structures that have a high-grade average and good reviews, and finally, add it to the ones taken from the Lonely Planet.

In short, the end of the research I have a selection of 5-6 structures which then reduce again until you get to have only 3.

At this point, a step at Booking.com, where I check rates and availability and, based on these, I book the structure.

One last very important factor in the final choice, is the option that allows to cancel your reservation free of charge until a few days before arrival, ideally until the day before, because I want to have the ability to change itinerary and program for any reason and that, during my travels, it happens quite often.

Why Booking.com? For loyalty … In practice, I use it since ever and my account has become “Genius”, which gives me the right to discounts or special promotions. I always felt comfortable with them, professional and efficient service, so I’m very happy as well. Of course, in some cases, I give a look to Airbnb, especially if looking for a truly local accommodation.

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How do I organise and I keep all reservations, electronic tickets and useful docs?

At the end of each trip planning, I end up with lots of documents such as flights, train, bus tickets, hotel reservations and more, so it is very important to always have them available at any time and, above all, in the same place. Storing everything in digital, it is certainly comfortable but could be a problem if, for instance, I do not have an internet connection available and then any document would be accessible.

Therefore, I organise all the documents in two formats: paper and digital.
For digital, I use Google Drive, as I already have a Gmail account, everything is connected and fast, such as transferring an attachment by email to Drive. So I create a folder with the name of the destination (in this case Vietnam) and inside I copy all files.

For the hard copy, I simply print everything in A4 format and store in transparent cases, like those used in folders.

Finally, a good old notebook

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Last but not least, I always carry a notebook and a pen, where I can at all times, pinning a thought, a useful number, address, and this is very helpful when traveling, because pen and paper at the end, it is always the fastest method and does not leave you never on the ground, like the iPhone does…

Grazie per la lettura,
a presto,

Sabino

 

Blogger tools: how to proofread and have your posts “grammarly” perfect!

When I've started building up this blog, my main concern was to be not able to write in a proper English and the only way out for me was to write articles only in Italian, my mother tongue. But I didn't want to loose the possibility to be This is a tip I  want to share with you, as I think you could find it really useful.

But I didn't want to loose the possibility to be read by everyone in the world, so I started writing in English anyway, conscious that my grammar would not be that perfect. Is not always due to a lack of knowledge, but often is due to a fast writing of the sentence…

Now I have a very powerful tool to correct all the mistakes!

This is for me a holy gift! Today I felt a bit frustrated for my continuous mistakes in my posts so I've started to investigate for some existing solutions who could improve the quality of my English writings. So, after some test I've found exactly the tool I was looking for, even better than I thought, and that's why I want to share this tip with you.

And sorry in advance if it could look like this is a sponsored post: it is not, I've not been paid to promote this, I'm not yet that famous to attract sponsors 😉
I've discovered a few minutes ago and I want to simply share it.

The application's name is Grammarly and is a free add-on for your browser. So it is not a plugin for WordPress but is a little application that you can install for free on your browser ( I use Chrome). After the installation, you will be asked to create a simple account and that's it.

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Other than the browser add-on, you can also download the plugin for Office and for Windows so you can get this service also when you edit a word document.

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How it works

The way it works is so easy! I will try to show you some examples below just to give you a quick preview. As soon as you start typing in your editor, in this case, WordPress, the application will automatically mark the mistakes by highlighting it in red and suggesting the correction. Just fantastic. Like this:

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14-11-2016-14-55-57Furthermore, if you then open an existing post or page, it will analyse the content and highlight the mistakes on the whole content. And it shows you not only the simple writing mistakes but also the grammar mistakes or the correct position of a comma in the sentence.

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This is, for the moment, what I've discovered about this application, but I'm sure it can offer much more features, I just need to use it deeply, but at this level is already a huge improvement of the quality of my writing. Finally, I hope you will appreciate this as you may now read my articles much easier and more relaxed and i can offer you a much better service.

Ciao ciao e a presto,
Sabino