Hokkaido trip preperation 5: Bookings

Flights and hotels. When should you book?

If your trip involves the two together, choose the flight first if you hadn't pick specific dates or duration of travel. The reason is that flight fares vary a lot on a day-to-day basis and you would have more flexibility, especially if the flights are at the start and the end of the trip. If travelling through various cities, you may also want to check if a one-way ticket to your first city and another one-way ticket to your last city would be cheaper than having a return ticket to one of the cities. Don't forget to include the cost of getting to the airport itself!

What time your flight arrives and departs would also determine if you should save/spend on a night at the hotel. Some flights fly more than once a day, some only a few times a week, with the latter giving you less flexibility.

If your flight arrives quite close to midnight, local time, where transport out of the airport may have ended service for the day, or have you rushing for the last service, it's a better idea to stay overnight there. Although, depending on the airport and your needs, this may not be favourable. The same goes for flights so early in the morning that it is not possible to get to the airport in time without taking a taxi, or just don't like to rush. In this case, save yourself an additional day at the hotel and just hang around the airport overnight instead.

What days should you book your hotel? The first thing you should note are when your flights are, as mentioned earlier, or any overnight travel to another city. As for me, I do not plan any places to visit on the days I would be checking-in or checking-out from the hotel because it would be reserved for rests from travelling, and preparation to depart. If there is a lot of time to spare, you may use it to freely explore and maybe squeeze in a last-minute place to visit. Do mind the luggage that you would be bringing around, though your hotel may let you store your bags in the mean time. Depending on the city, you can store them in lockers at the airport or train stations too. (If it's Japan, you don't need to worry much about having enough coins of the right denominations: you would receive lots of it while shopping, or a machine nearby that exchanges from different denominations.)

Don't believe me? Well, take last year's travel to Paris form home. Here's the general layout.

Home → Accommodation in Paris, France

Seems simple? Well, take a look at what cities I have to pass through in between.

Home → Doha, Qatar →  London, England → Accommodation in Paris, France

Okay, just two cities added. What is so complicated about that you say? Well, let me add in more details.

Home → travel to the airport for flight at night → waiting to check in → check in → clear customs and security → board the flight → wait for the flight to depart → flight to Doha, Qatar → land in Doha, Qatar → waiting to alight from plane and shuttle to airport terminal building → wait for flight to London, England → board the flight to London, England → wait for flight to depart at → flight to London, England (while avoiding Iraqi airspace) → landed at Heathrow Airport in London → waiting to alight from plane → a very long walk between plane gate and customs → queue at customs → interview at customs (No, they don't just look at your face and stamp, they actually ask what you are doing there) → overnight at airport because it's late → London Underground train to Saint Pancras station → waiting until check-in → French customs and security before entering waiting area (UK customs are oddly missing) → waiting for train at waiting area → boarding the train to Gare du Nord (North Station) in Paris, France → riding on the train → arrival at Gare du Nord → Ticket machine did not accept the large-denominated Euro we had (earlier spending was in British Pounds) and had to join the long queue for the manned counter → subway train to the station the station closest to place, while transferring through different lines → walking about a kilometre while figuring how to get there → Accommodation in Paris

Do I want to head out to visit places after what I had gone through as mentioned above, which is about 3 days of travel, including preparing to depart? No! I also need to adjust to the different time-zones, made even more confusing with daylight savings and the times the sun rises and sets.

Also, do you want to face the horror of finding out at that time of time that you can't charge your phone just because you don't have the right type of plug? Well, it's a good thing I brought the adaptors. Do note that plugs used in the UK and Europe are different. Depending on where you are from, you may find the plug to be the same, or where neither the plug nor voltage are the same. Make sure you check the ratings to be sure: some support a wide range of voltages and AC frequency, but only provide you with one type of plug.

Don't say that taking a holiday is easy.


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