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.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.