Thursday, 31 July 2014

SIGN On travel auRA with the Skyscanner Travel Wizard!

For someone like me, who has traveled reasonably wide enough, from South Africa to Sri Lanka, from Canada to Australia, the thing I have dreaded the most in my past trips has been: yes, travel planning!

I have often joked with family & friends that merely planning the trip requires a vacation so i can relax and get back to being myself so that i can enjoy the actual planned travel!

Not anymore!

We thankfully live in the age of hAPPiness - an era where Apps bring us immense relief, adventure and happiness.

Skyscanner Travel Wizard is my favorite these days.  Both the website and the mobile App (across platforms). 

This blog post is titled to begin 'SIGN O RA' for two pertinent reasons:

1. Say Sayonara (Japanese for "Goodbye") to travel planning woes; instead, sign on to travel aura with Skyscanner.

2. Plan a delectable trip to the "Love in Tokyo" land, Japan.

My fascination with Japan, as a place I would like to travel to, owes its origin to the Hindi Bollywood movie, "Love in Tokyo".

Well, its an age-old classic, made in 1966.  Yes, most of us weren't even born.

But, thanks to archives and home video, have fallen in love with the locales.

I start with a modest budget of Rs.100,000 (approximately USD 1,645 on current forex rates) for the entire trip.  My intention is to have a full fledged two week (15 days) trip - because such trips, usually, are once in a lifetime - so I rather exhaustively enjoy the trip during a sumptuous fortnight period.   

Never mind the budget, Skyscanner makes my tryst with this dream trip such a delightful courtship, in itself:

I log on to Skyscanner and as I always do, first do a one-way flight ticket search - call it a superstition if you will, i always check that first when I embark on a trip (to me, that is an indicator if the trip can be possible within my budget - call it my thumb rule, if you will):

In this case, because my screenshots will be wider and more beautiful, I have showcased the website directly (and not on my mobile phone):

By my thumb rule, that Rs. 30,807 for a one-way fare means I can now comfortably embark on searching real options for my real trip, within my budget of Rs.100,000.

Japan, here I come ..

I now get on to Skyscanner's Travel Wizard full throttle:

I look for all flight options between my city and Tokyo.  

The wizard beautifully throws up the duration and dates I chose, searches all available options, the best price, warns me my preference of going without stops is not available, shows me one and two stops options and best of all, tells me the nuances - like, if I am checking bags, it may cost me additional fees (ah, thanks for being sensitive to my budget, right at the outset).

I have illustrated all the aforesaid points with sky blue ovals and arrows in the below screenshot:

The utility of this Skyscanner wizard is - it allows me the freedom of optimum choice.  It doesn't impose. It doesn't recommend. It searches hard and fast and provides me everything on a platter for me to make my choice.

Well, I'm quite a traveler and will never choose the 'cheapest' or the 'most expensive' options ever! trust me.  I go for my 'optimum' option.

For flights, I choose the Cathay Pacific return trip ticket to Tokyo Narita.  Main reasons include my airline preference, both the arrival and departure being from the same airport (makes me psychologically at home), optimum flight duration and of course, single stop.

Best of all, it shows me what other websites will charge me for the same flight on the same date for the same parameters.  Love it Skyscanner!

Flight tickets: Done! Rs. 45,328.  

Any traveler will agree, that was the easy part.

Now, especially being a fortnight long trip, comes the real challenge: a suitable place of stay, safe, within the budget, as close to the city center with my choice of amenities.  That reads as HEADACHE! 

Thankfully, Skyscanner threw up a plethora of tried and tested options - take a look:

I loved it that the wizard intuitively picked up my travel dates and city from my flight search, took it onto the hotel search and provided all the options:

Life's never been a breeze .. yeah!

Look how quickly I narrowed in on my choice of stay: a hostel, in the center of Tokyo, rated very good and a ranking of 8.2, two star, with great attractions nearby and most important of all - cleanliness, safety and that indispensable free wireless internet carrot! I am done! 

Cost: Rs. 23,811.

So, total budget expended thus far:

Return Flight tickets + Ho(s)tel = Rs. 45,328 + 23,811 = Rs. 69,139.

I can also set up price alerts on the smart wizard so if there is any price advantage opportunity before my date of travel, the wizard will email me! Woohoo!

That leaves Rs. 30,861 from my budget of Rs.100,000 for food, local travel, admission fee to local interests and shopping :) At current rates to the Japanese Yen, that would be a cool 52,155 Japanese Yen (at 1.69 Yen to an Indian Rupee). Super cool and should give me cushion enough for sundry medical and other supplies, if need be. 

Oh by the way, Skyscanner also allows car and bus booking for any city in the world.  I didn't book a car because I am not the driving type and prefer public transport and hail taxis when I travel.  The wizard, exactly as intuitively as it took over details from my flight search to hotels, does it for cars as well, in case you will be interested. Cars can be booked for daily rental or for the entire period of travel. 

I can't believe its been this easy planning the trip out. So, here's how I will experience my love in Tokyo:

Places I will see:

I will start off by exhausting all the attractions nearest to my place of stay, including the Imperial palace, the Tokyo Sky Tree, the temples, museums and parks near it. I will then top it off with the following visits, spread over my period of stay:

Sensoji, the ancient Buddhist temple

Nakamise, the shopping center

The East Garden (I guess that is combined with the Imperial Palace visit) - but I call it out separately because I am an incurable garden enthusiast. 

Tokyo Disneyland :)

The Ginza - remember, I am a born fashionista and this is the city's high fashion center.

Akhihabara Electric Town

Sanrio Puroland, Hello Kitty's home :)

Kubukiza Theater (drama) - the only theater in Japan with shows every month; I'm very fond of theater as a genre and am a literature enthusiast.

Tokyo Tower

Beyond this, as I always do, I will go on walks across the city, explore and connect with the locales, their culture and cuisine (subject to just one restricition, I am vegetarian :) 

I will use the public transport modes, such as the Metro and subway for all the visits.

Things I will bring along:

I am a stickler for shopping from the local communities (avoiding middlemen). So, here's my must bring list:

The famous Japanese folding fan - thanks to Asha Parekh, the heroine of the movie "Love In Tokyo", this is a must bring topper for me.

Hello Kitty snacks and fancy jewelry

Phone accessories

Watermelon bagels

Personalized electronics (remember, I told you I will visit the Akhihabara Electric Town?) - i can get super cool personalized electronics from pollen mask (I am allergic) to USB vibration helmet :)

Sushi ear buds!

Wow - I am living it up there, already.  Can't wait for September 30, the date I put in for the start of my trip. 

In the meantime, I am busy humming this memorable 'Sayonara' song from the movie 'Love in Tokyo' (this movie had fantastic music and also has two more of my all time favorite songs):

My trip is yet to begin and you ought not wonder why I am singing a goodbye song :)

I am celebrating my goodbye to travel planning woes!

And signing on to travel aura with Skyscanner :)

Hope you enjoyed my trip planning as much as I had a gala time!

This post is a part of Skyscanner Skyscanner travel wizard activity at 

Cheers :)

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