Holiday-Bound: Planning a vacation
The world may be your oyster, but it can be tough and time consuming to plan a holiday. Read on for some suggestions of websites and apps to help you on your journey.
Pinterest is a great place to start for inspiration about anything. Either search for specific locations you have in mind or browse the “Travel” category to perhaps discover somewhere new.
Minube is a beautiful site to get lost in for a little while. Browse by region of the world or by category, such as “Destinations to get away from it all” and “50 cities to see in your lifetime”. Be sure to visit the “Inspire Me” page where you simply select the number of travel days and your purpose (to “travel with kids” or “fall in love again”, for example) and Minube will suggest a few destination ideas. You just may uncover someplace you’ve never thought of before! Once you select a destination, there are a number of attractions, hotel and restaurant suggestions based on previous travellers’ recommendations, plus you can download a free travel guide.
It’s no wonder Trip Advisor remains one of the top sources for travel information. Readers get many reviews and suggestions for restaurants, hotels, and attractions from fellow travellers. Plus, there are a number of travel guides, suggested itineraries and a huge forum, which is a great resource for straight-from-the-source travel advice about your destination.
Snag a Deal
The largest online travel provider in the world, Expedia is a trusted go-to for booking flights, hotels and car rentals. When searching flights, Expedia allows you to compare prices and overall travel time (including stops) all at once, across airlines.
If you want to book directly from an airline or hotel site, or just want to skip the third party provider but still want the cheapest fare, Skyscanner is a great online source. Skyscanner acts as a search engine for flights and has a wonderful comparison tool for accommodations and car rentals. The site is easy to use and even has a nifty “Search Everywhere” option so you can see the cheapest flights currently available to destinations around the world — perfect for a spontaneous getaway.
If you’re looking for unique accommodations and a taste of everyday life while on holiday — think a studio apartment in Paris, a villa in Tuscany, or a swanky penthouse suite in New York City — you could head to Airbnb. Because you’re booking directly from a homeowner renting out his or her space, this may prove to be a more cost-effective option than a traditional hotel.
Planapple is an easy and fun way to organize your holiday from start to finish. To start, download their browser extension. This way, when come across an interesting attraction or restaurant you would like to try, press the icon and it will save the page directly to your trip folder on Planapple’s website. (This “save” button is currently unavailable for Microsoft Edge, but they’re working on it!) As you accumulate your sightseeing destinations, restaurants and hotels, you can use Planapple’s calendar feature and build your itinerary. This site is perfect for group planning, too. You can ditch the email chain and have all your discussions online in one place — there’s even a voting feature to make coming to a consensus a little easier. Plus, you can send your itinerary directly to your iPhone so you can access it while travelling, with or without WiFi.
Like Planapple, TripHobo allows you to save attractions, restaurants and more to build your itinerary but you can also use tried and tested itineraries from other travellers. They have a ton of samples spanning a wide range of activity levels, days of travel and interest, which will certainly help give you a starting point if you feel overwhelmed by where to begin.
Stick to Your Budget
To keep yourself on budget while on vacation, get the Soulver app for iOS (CalcNote is similar on Android). This type of “smart calculator” works like a notepad; you simply jot down your calculation as you would write it on a piece of paper (using words and numbers and never having to use the equals sign) and Soulver will keep a running total. The app even calculates currency exchange so you can easily keep track of what you’re truly spending and adjust, if necessary, as you go.
Planning a trip has never been easier (or more fun) thanks to the apps and sites at your fingertips. The next time you get the travel bug, be sure to start your planning online!