Tools for Travel Planning

Want to take a trip

I am not a professional travel agent (nor am I sponsored by any of the sites listed below), but sometimes I think I should have been. When it comes to travel planning, I love it! I may not use my time as efficiently when planning as I should but I get it all done and I enjoy the process. But I am also always on the look out for tools to help keep it simple and/or make it easier to book extensive plans without a professional travel agent.

Where to start

I start with the destination. Between Google maps and Trip Advisor, I get a feel for the location. I’ve also used Facebook to ask the locals where to stay, what to do and how to get around. They are the best source of information. Next, I approach how to get there. If it is by car, I review my vehicle and it’s capability. I rely on my husband to map the route as it is a passion of his. If it is to be by plane, I start with SkyScanner. This handy little app and website gives me an idea of ticket prices if my days are flexible. As they often are flexible within 2-3 days, this helps me narrow my travel dates. Once this part is done, however, I switch over to Kayak to search fares. Most of time, I find the lowest fares then go over to that airlines website. 95% of the time the fare is very similar, and sometimes lower. I have frequent flier accounts at a couple of airlines – Southwest, American and Delta – which covers most places that I can get points due to partnerships.

Once I get the flight booked, next stop is lodging. As a time-share owner (Disney Vacation Club and Wyndham), that is my next stop. If I cannot book through them, I use Booking.com to find hotels. I also use Google Maps and their “find nearby” feature, especially if I know that I want to stay in a particular area of the city. I just did this for Seattle and found a gem that wasn’t coming up on the booking sites.

Next is transportation. I have used Kayak and CarRentals.com for cars, but usually just go to the sites directly (Alamo, Enterprise, Avis.)

My favorite itinerary tool

My favorite itinerary tool

I think the best thing that I’ve found to help me keep organized is TripIt. This is a travel itinerary application and website that automatically imports my email confirmation into travel plans. It helps me keep all my confirmation numbers in one place and shows me the daily itinerary for anything we’ve booked. I just reviewed my intinerary for that upcoming trip to Seattle and it’s a busy one! But there is peace of mind knowing it’s all in one place. I have also had to use TripCase because of a travel agent connection. It does a similar thing but I like TripIt better.

What do you use?

Do you have any suggestions on a ways to streamline this process? I imagine many people use only Kayak or Booking.com, which I always consider. Are there any brilliant tools you’ve discovered? Thank you for sharing.

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13 thoughts on “Tools for Travel Planning

  1. We don’t often travel except by road and with the horses. Google maps is great for giving us the routes to take and very forgiving if a wrong turn is made. Cheers, Ian

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  2. Wow- I hope someday you become a travel advisor because it seems you do such a good job of it. Maybe do it for a local networking or organization. Our travel has been simple over the years. Mostly cruises or we use tour groups for foreign countries. Hubby not a fan of trael so I found this works best.

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  3. Lots of the same thing you do, Lori Ann. I go to Kayak and check flight prices, although I find it incredibly time consuming going back and forth between the sites that offer deals. I also go directly to Hertz when I go to Arizona, as inevitably, they offer me the best deal. Recently I tried searching Booking.com and Hotels.com for good prices, yet my cousin got my a better deal through Interval for a one-week getaway that made it more economical to book a week than the few days, I intended. I also use my timeshare in Sedona and that works well and then marketing often has amazing additional packages to enhance my trip. I’m going to try SkyScanner next time I’m looking for airline prices. Thanks for the great trip planning process you use! It really added some new options for me to consider in the order I do things too! Enjoy the trip…wherever you go. 🙂

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  4. Looks like you have a lot of fun planning trips and tours. These skills translate nicely to the professional world (even if you don’t become a travel / event planner=>). I use some of the sites / approaches you mentioned; I find it both fun and frustrating at times, but the end result of traveling to a new or favorite spot makes all the research worth it.

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  5. The first website that I usually use to check flights is Kayak.com. and for accommodation, I recently start using Airbnb. They seem to have good deals. I didn’t know some of the sites that you mentioned, so thank you for sharing great tips!

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  6. Good info. I am a travel agent and book a lot of travel for my business clients. I primarily use the sites you mentioned above as a base to determine how much better the deals I can put together are than what’s publicly available so I can inform my clients how much they are saving. If you are a frequent traveller, it is better to have a dedicated agent on your side.

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