Our Booking Process

Booking for any trip can be daunting especially searching endlessly for affordable accommodation that suits your pocket. Today I’m sharing how I do my booking process. 

We get asked this question so many times, “How do you find such nice accommodations?” 

Google is my best friend.

Know where you want to go. In many cases, I have no idea where our next trip will take place so I check my trusted friend, Google Maps for some direction.

And direction does it give.

If you’re just staying somewhere for the weekend and you have a driver like Courtney who doesn’t want to be on the road for more than two hours, make sure to find places within that distance. I always calculate the distance with Google Maps to get an accurate time and present it to him before he tells me I have hidden agendas – I do, mostly but oh well!

Online is your best friend

Once you nailed down a town to stay over in, these are the sites I visit:

TravelStart – Only if I’m flying do I make use of this site.

Me and booking anything online is like that girl you just want no association with without even giving it a shot. Then came our Durban trip and I had many mini panic attacks before coming around with the idea that why didn’t I do this online situation sooner.

Each mentioned site are different (obviously) but have the same navigation system with a filter that allows you to add in your destination, you’re planned dates and, for how many guests. It can also filter out what you’re looking for in terms of what sort of accommodation you prefer (self-catering, campsite, B&B, etc) and, what you would like to have included.

Honestly, after traveling the way we do, we prefer self-catering. It’s inexpensive unless it’s a campsite that Courtney refuses to do with me. B&Bs are also cost-effective; depending on whether it’s on or off-season. B&Bs work for us when A) I’m lazy to make breakfast and, B) because it was probably cheaper than a self-catering place in that area.

Tip: Book your trip in the off-season. It’s during winter and you get loads of discounts. LOADS!

Figuring out online sites

If you’re a newbie to doing anything online, take a deep breathe because it’s really easy to figure out. Like I said before, I have about three websites open in order to find the best accommodation. Type in the town you want to stay in and the site throws out what accommodations are out there.

A list of places will come up with a detailed description, what it includes and what the price is. Side note: Cross check the prices. Many of the sites say Starting from XYZ.  I can’t even begin to recount how many times the prices are more than what is stated.

Never be shy to phone or pop the desired lodge an email to make sure the dates and price are correct and available. I experienced a few instances where the dates are available on the site but when you inquire directly with the accommodation, it’s not because they forgot to update them.

Note that each booking site has different advertised lodgings. Some might have the same lodging yet the prices sometimes differ because of the website policy and their terms.

If you not comfortable with a place, don’t book

If you have a funny gut feeling, don’t book it. Sometimes hotels or lodges can seem too good to be true even if the price is suitable. Don’t settle for just anything. If you cannot find accommodation in that particular town, search in the next neighbouring one. Adding an extra half an hour to your trip will be a great adventure.

If you have weird preferences like I do (my secret will be revealed), it’s okay. Mine is brown vinyl tiles – those really old-fashion ones? You know what I’m talking about! Or, decor that’s terribly worn out. It’s stupid, I know but if I see these things in any displayed images, it’s a big no-no for me. In the end, it’s your holiday so you want it to be a home away from home.

Once you’ve agreed on what place you’ll be staying in, book it. With websites such as SafariNow, LekkerSlaap, and TravelGround, you have to pay a deposit to secure your dates of arrival. I know with booking through SafariNow, you get Pick ‘n Pay points so take advantage of that if you have the loyalty card.

With Booking.com, you can reserve your place without having to pay a deposit but do look at the fine print. A hand full of the lodgings on the site do require it but not all. Most of the others expect you to make payment once you arrive but you are required to add in your card details in case you don’t pitch up. This website really is helpful if you booking multiple places in advance.

Flying to another province or country

It’s even more stressful. Joking! Okay, maybe a bit.

Everyone loves saving where they can and flying at a cheaper rate is even better. Try and book your flights on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday. Why? It’s ridiculously economical. They tend to push up the prices on days when people have to leave and come back which happens on a Monday, Friday and Sunday.

With booking lodging in another province or country can be scary but do thorough research. When we do travel, I prefer B&Bs so that I’m able to enjoy my holiday instead of having to still think about making food. It also takes a lot of stress off your back not having to deal with the task of grocery shopping in another state/country.

Read as many reviews or get someone’s input on the lodging decision. You don’t want to be scammed or stranded in an unknown place and have your trip ruined.

Here are some guidelines to take into account:

  • Check when school holidays take place. Many cost-effective accommodations book out a month prior to these dates.
  • Make sure that these accommodations have websites. If not, don’t worry but be curious. Read reviews and search for credible sources. If you’re concerned, give them a call and request some images.
  • Just because a place is cheap, doesn’t mean it ticks off everything you need. Read carefully what is included in the price.

I hope my booking process gave you some insight the next time you feel like going on holiday. Next time, I’ll be sharing how to pack for these trips.

Until the next adventure!

Stephanie Marthinus Blog