Great Travel Sites to Plan Your Next Trip
Modern travel planning is merging the wealth of information available on the internet with the trusted advice from your experienced friends. Planning your first trip to Walt Disney World? Searching for the best place for your family to stay, or the best schedule to guide your days, or the best restaurants for your kids may be overwhelming. But asking your friends who’ve recently visited the parks for their recommendations? Cake. But . . .you haven’t run into those friends around town lately, and you don’t want to spend a bundle on your trip. Enter a new crop of useful online travel planning sites that ease travel planning with advice from your friends, and travel discounts. Here’s some of our recommendations for travel sites to help plan your next family getaway.
Bing Travel searches over one hundred airline and agency websites, and allows you to use a slide rule to narrow your search parameters. The coolest part of the site is Bing’s Price Predictor which shows historical fares and predicts whether prices are rising or falling – helping you to decide whether you should buy your ticket now, or wait. According to the Bing website, they have a 75% accuracy rate and on average save customers around $50 on a round trip ticket.
GiltGroup’s foray into travel flash sales and discounts, JetSetter is a great site to join if you have plans to travel anytime soon. It offers amazing travel discounts and deals for hotels, vacations, home rentals and more around the world. If you’re patient and have a sense of adventure, this is one way to travel in style and still keep some money in your wallet.
If you’re looking for a consistent site that can provide you with a reliable sense of the good, the bad and the ugly, then you’ll appreciate TripAdvisor’s critical mass of reviews. We literally drove from coast-to-coast last summer and used TripAdvisor to find hotels along the way. Not only did we find hotels that we might not have otherwise sought out (like the 21c Hotel in St Louis), but the reviews were spot-on based on our own experiences. It’s now the first place I go to check on a property before we visit. For an added fun factor, check out Hipmunk, which serves up TripAdvisor reviews within a heat map to show elements like walkability to places of interest, shopping and nightlife relative to your hotel.
This site taps into your Facebook (or other social media) contacts for credible travel recommendations and suggestions (they’re your friends after all). Think of it as a Pinterest for travel – overflowing with photographic travel inspiration for you to browse. Then, when you enter a trip you’re planning, Trippy emails your Facebook contacts to solicit their recommendations or advice. Viola! Within hours or days, you could have personalized recommendations from your friends about what to do, sitting in your inbox. You can then share photos or updates with them while you’re on your trip, sitting at the restaurant they told you about.
Relying on social content posted by others, Wanderfly nicely compartmentalizes trips into buckets of categories that can be shared with friends or others who share the same travel preferences. You can set preferences toward the travel experiences you’re interested in, like family or luxury, and see what others have done in the same locale. It’s an interesting way to discover new places to visit or explore similar travel ideas.