There is no dearth of exotic tourist locations waiting to be explored, but a number of factors need to be kept in mind before embarking on a vacation.

Kapil Goswamy, founder of travel portal BigBreaks.com, suggests how to select a good travel package:

* Chalk out a travel plan and specify your preferences: While booking through a travel agency, many people tend to ignore the calendar themselves and rely on the agents. However, it is important to remember that it is your vacation and you need to have a fair idea of the must do’s on a particular destination, even if an experienced travel agent is planning it for you.

A ready-made package to Kerala might contain visits of equal duration to the backwaters, beaches as well as the hill stations. However, you might be an out-an-out beach person desiring to spend maximum time at the beaches. Your preferences therefore, have to be specified clearly to the planner. For this to happen, a rough travel itinerary must be chalked out in your mind, complete with locations of preference, budget as well as number of days.

* Enroll yourself with multiple travelling sites: With plenty of players in the market, the customer is often spoiled for choice. However, it helps to conduct a fair comparison and research before sealing a deal. Therefore, it will help you to register with two to three travel agencies and sites from which you can receive a slew of deals, discounts and offers in your mail.

* Popular is not always the best: While dealing with travel agencies or websites, we often tend to believe that the most popular ones are the best planners and service providers. It might not always be true. Often, travellers find more lucrative and more customised solutions from lesser known service providers who are more eager to build a good image and a loyal clientele for themselves.

* Book round trips: You must try and book your flights in a manner that you depart and arrive at the same airport, as round trip fares are usually cheaper.

* Say no to extras: Travel packages often tend to lure by giving you options to select additional services to make your trip more pleasurable and memorable. These extra offerings may unnecessarily add to your budget. Offerings such as airport transfer, shopping assistance can be avoided if you want to save cash. Keep the deal to the basic minimal.

* Plan your trip in time: Flight fares are significantly cheaper if booked more than a month in advance, and so are the hotel rates. Online travel companies as well as hotel chains now offer significant discounts and special offers for early bird bookings. Also, by booking late, you might miss out on the best beach view hotel in town and may have to settle for an ordinary one.

* Check the facilities: If you are on a business trip, make sure that all the facilities required for making your visit comfortable and successful, are in place. You must ensure that the hotel offers WiFi, conference rooms suitable for your meetings and facilities such as fax and foreign exchange.

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