Building a multi-stop trip seems like a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many options, depending on how much time you have before you travel and how you want to travel. You can be totally hands-off, get some assistance, or be a total do-it-yourselfer. The most convenient route is using a travel agency. You can give the agent the desired destinations, travel dates, where you want to depart from and travel preferences. She can do all of the legwork and get back to you with the built itinerary.
You can also use an agency that has a website where you build the trip. We booked 2 trips that way in the past, as newbies to Europe. We used Gate-1 Travel, building the trip through its website, calling initially for them to explain the process and during when we had any questions. We input the start date, how many nights desired at each destination and the return date. We also had the option to choose flights-only, and book hotels outside of the company.
The search returned pricing, with flights and/or train routes for each leg and hotels. Of course, we would search Google for hotels off to the side. We selected the hotel and flights then saved the itinerary. At this point, we called the company to pay. If we needed any changes, they could guide us or make the changes. The good thing about travel agencies is that some allow you to make payments on a trip, depending on how far out it is. They may require you to pay the air portion of the trip outright. It really depends on the company.
Another option is to build the trip from scratch yourself. During your search, you will find multiples ways to get to your destinations. For example, let’s say you want to fly from Atlanta with stops in London and Paris. You can approach it several ways. You can book a round trip flight from Atlanta to Paris for your start and end dates, then catch a round-trip flight, train, or plane/train combination from London to Paris in between. You may reverse the Paris and London order, depending on which route is the cheapest and/or shortest.
Always give yourself plenty of padding with multiple round-trip itineraries, as one may have a delay. You may also book a series one-way tickets from Atlanta to each stop and back. Keep in mind the allotted baggage amounts, weights, and fees with each flight leg, as they vary with each airline. You can help combat airfare costs and baggage fees if using airline miles, as well as booking with a credit card that includes free baggage.
For your lodging, you may choose hotels, hostels, AirBnB’s, etc., using company direct websites or sites like Expedia, Bookit, Travelocity, etc. Read reviews and ask friends where they stayed if they have visited those destinations. People are more than willing to share their good and bad experiences.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the planning process. Give yourself plenty of time, so there is no pressure to choose something because a date is luring. Nothing is worse than hastily picking a flight or lodging then regretting the price, location, or the choice itself. It could ruin the vacation before it even starts.
Now, start planning your next big adventure!