So, lately I’ve been planning a vacation. Sometimes I think I have about as much fun in the planning process as the trip itself…the endless possibilities, the fun organizing everything, and of course, the joy of learning…and with so many websites and apps, too! So, in case you don’t have as much time on your hands as me, below are the sites/tools I use.
Thrillist: Go up to the top tabs on this site and scroll over “Cities.” A lot of major US and world cities are listed, and clicking on them will bring up several articles with tips for where to go, what to do, what to eat, latest trends, etc.
TimeOut: Another site (like Thrillist above) that you can search under a specific city to get tips for where you’re going.
AAA: Looking for hotels, flights, cruises, etc? This site works for that. Of course, if you have a membership with them, it’s even better with the discounts.
Booking tip: Be sure to cross-reference with other booking sites, because AAA or the the hotel itself are not always the best deal. I recently tried to call the hotel directly to see if they would match a deal I found, and they said they would, but when I received an email confirmation, there were a bunch of unaccounted for taxes on my receipt, making the total higher than I was promised. At least when booking online, you can see the absolute total before you click to pay. I recommend Kayak, AAA, or Booking.com. (Or, if you are going to Vegas, I recommend joining one of the membership programs—i.e., MLife or Total Rewards—and book through that.)
Google Maps: Did you know you could click on locations on the map and hit Save? It then places a little star where you want to go, and you can zoom out to see the distance between all of the places you want to visit. You can also label places, create a specific map, and I’m sure there are even more functions that I have not explored yet.
TripAdvisor: Another booking site, recommendations site, and more…I particularly enjoy looking through city forums to see others’ itineraries and tips or questions.
atlasobscura.com: Yes, I like to be a tourist when on vacation; however, I also like to see things off the beaten path, out of the ordinary, and that I can’t see back at home. This site helps with that.
And here are some iPhone apps I use, or am going to use soon, when traveling:
- Airline app (whether flying United, Southwest, American Airlines, etc.) – This helps for checking in to your flight, getting alerted about delays, and knowing which gate you need to go to.
- Gate Guru – Keeps track of your ticket info, helps you find your gate, and lets you know about where restaurants or shops are in the airport.
- Travel + Leisure Travel Guide App – Helps you map out the places you want to go.
- TripIt: Travel Organizer