London Travel : Know more than locals in less than 20 mins.

Some may object to the title of this post as being too audacious. Especially coming from someone who has just been once to London. But I think once you finish reading this post and get a chance to actually test this, you might agree with me.

London Travel - Stevan

So I had made this trip to London last Christmas with my wife and it was special in many ways. Among  other trips, this one was planned in less than 25 days right from booking tickets, visa to itineraries, shopping everything.

Typically we do a lot of research and carry at least 30-40 pages of documents supporting our itinerary. So during one such research session, I came across something really useful which proved to be a game changer for my trip to London in terms of the freedom it allowed us to enjoy the trip. And I strongly felt the need to share with those who may travel to this wonderful city as it is extremely useful and relates to local travel.

You May Never Drink Coke after reading this…

Ok. Not just Coke, but for that matter any carbonated drinks or even canned fruit juices.

Diet Soda Bad for Health - Stevan Noronha

While I was aware all these years that fizzy drinks such as Coke, Pepsi and other similar brands are not good for health, but one would always be tempted to drink it often, especially during summers when you are thirsty and a can of coke feels heavenly. These drinks are wonderful to go along with spicy food or quick bites. They are so addictive you wanna have more.

But last week, thanks to a YouTube Video ( in which The Coco Cola Company President – Europe admitted something very drastic regarding Diet Sodas), I came to know of the specifics and that was enough to make me feel guilty for ruining my body so much, that I have now completely given up on these drinks. I didn’t realize that it was doing so much harm to my body.  Also for those like me, who exercise regularly, it was actually reversing any good which was meant to happen.  Don’t know how many people would read this post but if you do, remember to inform this to your near and dear ones.

The Secret Google Website you never heard of – And how it saved $500 on our international air tickets

Last month we had been on a vacation to UK for 10 days. My business does not afford the luxury of planning trips months in advance so we had planned this  trip in less than 20 days – right from Visa to air tickets , hotels, rail journeys everything just over two weeks.

How we saved $500 while booking international air tickets

We were aware that we might have to end up spending significantly more than if we had planned say 3 months ago. However we did a lot of research and discovered some great websites which allow you to buy cheapest last moment. And it helped that UK in winter is not peak season. Through this and the next few post we plan to share some of the travel hacks.

One of the biggest cost components for international trip is the flight cost, accounting roughly between 25% -40% of your total trip expense. Since we were travelling to UK, we first applied for VISA hoping to get that soon and then planned to book our tickets. We were closely monitoring the airline ticket pricing for a week and saw it rising twice in that period. The day we got our visa processed, 14 days before our flight,  we checked the flight cost had increased to 2000 USD for 2 people – ( Mumbai-London, Glasgow-Mumbai)

Now the job on hand was to ensure we’re sure we book the cheapest flight available. So how did we go about it. We did compare prices across our regular set of travel sites which we have been frequenting till then . Here’s a quick look at these websites

However all of them showed similar prices, just a few dollars here and there. And so we were about to book our tickets at 2000 USD. However we were not quite happy as we were hoping to come across some website which would  have special offer.

And thats when we came across this website which helped us save almost 20% of our flight cost. Thats almost USD 500 i.e around 32k

This was the only website which showed a radically cheaper fare of 1500 USD compared to all others. And yes it was a genuine price as we later went ahead and booked the same

And this has been one of the best find for us among other great travel hacks we have come across during our trip planning experience.

This site is http://matrix.itasoftware.com .

8024337960_0356d81ffb_o

ITA software was developed in 1996 by a scientist from MIT with an objective to provide airline data in a useful format. In 2010, Google acquired ITA Software. So this is actually a Google website which hardly anyone knows about

Now this site is unlike any other travel portal. First you cannot buy a ticket on this site. It will share airline, booking class and time classification for the cheapest ticket. With the booking codes provided which are most accurate and in terminology which your agent understands, you can use the details to book it thought any travel agent. 

We found the price of this site to be really the cheapest available online at that point compared to over 20 sites we had searched for. It provided the most accurate and credible information for most of the airlines.

makemytrip.com

(Actual screenshot of the search we did that day to finalize our cheapest fare.)

We used the information and went ahead and booked the tickets through our agent and in the process save almost 500 USD

Besides the ITA Software has many other interesting search parameters whereby you can search for cheapest fares uring a month or to a particular destination. I strongly recommend everyone to bookmark http://matrix.itasoftware.com for International airfare search as we strongly feel that you can definitely save good amount during booking your tickets . (Please note those in India and using this for local fare search, it may not necessarily provide great results as most of the local carriers are not included, This works beautifully for international travel)

Travel – Why Planning Own Trip is better than Hiring Travel Agents. ( Vol.1 )

(This is first in the series which aims to capture all resources to help plan your own travel trip –  ‘COMPLETE GUIDE FOR PLANNING YOUR OWN TRIP )

I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing places around the country and a few international.  And at all those times, have never hired a travel agent (except once).  I strongly believe that planning your own trip is as much fun and a learning experience as undertaking one.

Stevan - Plan Own Trip

 

Yes, most people do feel a little intimated by all the pre work required for a trip. But I can tell you that if done in a systematic manner, planning your own trip and doing everything is really lots of fun and satisfying than leaving it to some travel agent (however reputable they may be).

So this series of post is all about breaking the elements that go into planning a trip and the resources which would help you do it efficiently and effectively. I must confess that I don’t have any bias for any particular resource and everything posted here is based out of my own experience in planning trips with the intention that it could help those who would like to plan their own trip but may not be sure how to go about it.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME (VOL.I): Chaos to Control in Three Steps

As a brand manager, i constantly used to come up with new ideas and then in  excitement present it to my seniors. With the same enthusiasm, my seniors used to appreciate it and then give me the responsibility of executing it!

A double edged sword.While coming up with ideas is one thing, executing it was a whole new ball game altogether. Though, it never stopped me from coming up with new ideas every now and then. But slowly my job list was full of many to-do projects!

With almost 10 projects running parallel on any given day, managing them became impossible.  Add to that regular office work, checking mails, preparing presentations, attending meeting. After putting in 10-12 hours, i still ended up with the same job sheet of unfinished projects… It was utterly frustrating. Always ended up feeling that nothing was really accomplished. I am sure all of us felt that way at some point of time or other.