A handy arsenal of trip-planning tools for family getaways and destination corporate retreats alike
Intern Aleksandra here! During the spring semester of 2013 I had the opportunity to study abroad in England and travel extensively all throughout Europe. As a result, I ended up with a handy arsenal of trip-planning tools. Listed below are a few of my most-used and most-loved. I hope they can help you as well, whether you’re planning a family getaway or trying to think of activities for a destination corporate retreat.
Skyscanner is a flight-finder site that provides quick, reliable, and cost-effective information. It’s simple to use and easy to navigate – you can be as specific or flexible as you like, and Skyscanner will find the best deals for you. My favorite part about the site is that they include all the extra fees in the price they display, so there aren’t any surprises when you check out. I also loved that I was able to look at a week or month view to see when my flight would be the cheapest. I used this site the most when searching for the best budget flights in Europe, but it displays the best deals in America and worldwide as well. To toot my own horn, I managed to get myself to Berlin from London for about $10, and Skyscanner made it very simple!
When I’m planning a trip, Lonely Planet is where I go first. It’s slightly less user-generated than sites like Trip Advisor, so you can expect long, detailed, and well-researched pages on your destination. A city’s Lonely Planet page will offer you information on history, local transit (and how exactly you’re supposed to use it), health and safety, what to do, and more. Lonely Planet also offers an excellent series of travel books, but I prefer the site for its up-to-date information.
When planning what to see at a destination, I narrowed down my choices quickly and easily with Trip Advisor. The site has a review for almost any attraction you can think of, and I’ve found the users to be fairly unbiased. The most helpful reviews are sorted to the top, and all reviews are averaged into a rating of 1-5 stars. Trip Advisor’s staff also create great posts that have full trips planned out, if you so choose to follow them. If you have no idea where to start at your destination, you can simply go to the destination page and click through the categories, including (but not limited to) culture, museums, landmarks, and outdoors. It’s a fantastic way to figure out exactly what you want to do.
If you’re anything like me, you need to have all your travel stuff in one place, or you’ll completely lose your mind. I just can’t stand digging through my emails to find each and every itinerary and confirmation. Luckily, I discovered TripIt, which helped put my mind at ease and made it much more simple to communicate my travel plans to others (read: my perpetually worried parents). After you make an account, you simply forward every trip-related email you get to your TripIt account. It organizes your info and creates one handy document for you.
Okay, this isn’t exactly a site…more like not a site at all. It’s a book (or rather, a series of books) and I can honestly say that if I had the money, I’d buy a Rick Steve book for any country I was going to. His travel guides provide you with a level of authenticity and comfort that websites generally can’t offer. The books detail nearly every street of the city, give fun facts, and dispense excellent tried-and-true travel advice for each destination. They’re well-written and very fun to read, especially if you’re stuck in a hostel with no Wi-Fi, or on a plane.