first things first: i am by no means an expert. as a matter of fact, up until recently, i haven't traveled out of the country in years. that said, i'd like to think that by the time i took my KL trip last week, i had my routine down pat, and thought that it might be helpful to list them all down here, if not for the three people who actually read this blog, then for my own personal reference should more trips present themselves in the future.
on booking flights and hotels
♥ if you're a budget traveler such as myself, booking flights way in advance are super helpful. not only are you able to file your leave early, after paying off the credit card charges, you still have sufficient time to save up for your pocket money.
♥ for the KL trip, we also booked the hotel the same day we did our flight. for that, we used agoda, which gave us around 30% in savings plus a cool breakfast buffet to go with our room.
♥ if you're traveling with a big group, opt to avail of the hotel breakfast buffet. i traveled to vietnam with a group of 7 other women, and while i love my friends, i hate the waiting the comes with waiting for everyone to be done getting ready for the day. having breakfast in the hotel at least cuts down on waiting time since those who are up early can have more time to enjoy their breakfast while those who are late will be *forced* to hurry up since the others are done and ready to go.
♥ while we lucked out with our hotel in KL, i will admit that i and commuter were "duped" into picking the one we got because of (what we felt) were already cheap rooms and (seemingly) fluffy pillows on the sample pictures. don't hesitate to scroll through all the hotels and check the locations against a map. we ended up booking a hotel in the suburbs which was, thankfully, right beside the mall, but a good distance from KLCC, which wasn't that great.
♥ both my KL and vietnam trips involved red eye flights from manila and back. in vietnam, the city isn't that far from the airport which makes it relatively easy to pick a hotel within one's budget and taste. on the other hand, the airport in KL is a good hour or more away from the city and the taxi cabs are as crazy (and ganid as the ones we have here in manila) so best to take that into consideration when booking a hotel for your first night. in our case, we booked a cheap but acceptable hotel -- my hotel @ sentral -- which was a five-minute walk from where the airport bus dropped us off in the middle of the night. so, while the hotel wasn't really where you'd want to stay for a long time, it was better than sleeping on a cold airport floor after an uncomfortable flight.
♥ while i generally trust the reviews online, take it with a grain of salt. usually, asians are more forgiving and westeners have more refined tastes. therefore, what might be acceptable for you might not be for an american tourist. also, a "small" room for them might be "average" for you. and although pictures help, they usually pick the nicest rooms to picture, not to mention take it at an angle that will best show off the room. you'll be better off reading the details: does it have a ref? how many beds in the room? what kind of television (if this matters to you) did they furnish the room with?
♥ ask. most websites have a "contact us" button, and agoda has a 24/7 live chat as well. when i couldn't find the answer to my questions online, i emailed the hotel or used agoda to resolve certain issues.
tomorrow: part 2 - planning your itinerary