Unless you’re planning to spend your whole vacation on the couch you will probably be traveling somewhere. Vacation is a time to get out and see things that you’ve always wondered about, or run into things that you never knew existed. There are so many great experiences awaiting you when you travel. Whether you stay close to home, drive a couple towns over, or fly around the world there is adventure to be had. All you have to do is go. Here are some of the tools I like to use to get ready for my trips.
TripAdvisor is by far my favorite app for planning travel. The reviews you see on this app are from travelers like you. Most of what you find on the app is constantly being updated. If you are looking for ideas in a region, city, or specific neighborhood check here first. TripAdvisor will get you lists of attractions, restaurants, bars, and hotels anywhere in the world along with up to date reviews from recent patrons. TripAdvisor usually will provide most of the necessary information to find a location like address and nearest public transport, and you can sometimes find helpful tips and warnings about where you will be going like where to park or notices of ongoing construction. The app is very easy to use and you can even book hotels and restaurant reservations right on the platform. If you were to pick one app to travel with then this would be the it. If you are going on a cruise then TripAdvisor does not have cruise ship info, but it will have information about your ports of call.
Like TripAdvisor, Pinterest has almost anything you are looking for. Pinterest is nice because people from all over the world are constantly posting things to it. It is great to read peoples stories of their travels. Some posts are very specific to a restaurant, hotel, or bar, and some get very extravagant and explain an entire itinerary, experiences and dos and don’ts in places all over the world. I use Pinterest to research the basics on cities that I plan to travel to, get ideas of the types of cuisine that will be offered, and get a sense of what being in that location will be like. There will often be recommendations for specific hotels and restaurants, or events to attend when you’re traveling. You can also find things that fall right into categories that interest you. When I get a few ideas from Pinterest I can cross-reference these ideas on TripAdvisor for recent reviews and get a plan started. Pinterest is a more than a travel site; you can find almost anything you are interested in on here. Arts and crafts, history, recipes, home improvement, and the list goes on. The hardest part about using Pinterest is getting off of the site. There is so much to see!
- Booking Websites
There are so many websites for booking hotels, flights, rental cars, and cruises. The nice thing about them is they are almost always similar in their offerings and pricing. In fact the same company operates many of them. Amongst Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Hotwire, and Kayak, Expedia is my favorite site to use. I have booked more hotels, flights, and cars via this site than the others, but like I said they are all very similar. I am just most comfortable with Expedia. When I am looking to book then I almost always check at least two of these sites to find the best price. Some sites will offer unique features and customizable search options. Kayak is nice because it will check multiple sites at once, potentially saving you some time. Hotwire will offer hot deals with amazing prices on hotels or airfare, the drawback being that you cannot see the name of the hotel or airline before paying for it. These deals can be a crapshoot. Priceline will allow you to name your own price for a hotel in a specific area, if it finds a match for your price then it will book it for you, but you have to commit with your credit card before it searches for you. Hotels.com is a good site, but only allows you to book hotel rooms as the name suggests.
- Hotel or Airline Specific websites
When I am looking to book trip I typically start with one of the large booking sites to get a general idea of what I may be paying for my trip. Once I have a few things narrowed down I like to check with the company that I may be flying or staying with direct. Sometimes booking direct will save you some bucks, or you may get some extras that the large booking store doesn’t offer. Extras may include late check out, free upgrades, better seating, free cancellation, complimentary breakfast, and of course a better price. Some companies will even guarantee that you will receive the best price available if you book through them. It’s always a good idea to check with the company before booking, they are competing with the big websites and would rather sell to you directly. You may be the winner when you go through them.
- City Specific Transportation
When you travel it is important to know how you will be getting around. Most major cities offer a website detailing their public transportation systems. When I travel I like to use public transport as much as possible if it is convenient. It is usually the most economical, and can often be faster than traveling by car. Subway/Light rail/Trolley is the easiest way to get around on public transport. Busses can often be very confusing, but traveling by train is typically straightforward. If a city does not offer a train system around town then I am usually taking services like Lyft or Uber, or I may be walking a lot if the city is conducive to foot travel. You can always use Pinterest to do some research on public transportation where you’re headed, and get some tips on how to get around. The best way to travel in some cities is on foot or bicycle, in some areas you may need to rent a car, and some places will be most easily traversed by taxi. It is important to know what’s best before you reach your destination. You don’t want to rent a car in a city with very limited or expensive parking, or be stuck without one in a remote area without public transport. Get to know your destination before you leave.