I travel a lot.
Before each trip, I like to do research to make sure I’ll have a balanced mix of adventurous activities, cultural outings, relaxing days, and discovering off-the-beaten-path places, without breaking the bank. (Although sometimes it’s fun to splurge. Helloooo spa treatments and unique excursions!) And during my trip, I utilize various tools and sites to keep my vacations running smoothly.
Check out some of my favorite resources when planning your next trip. Happy travels!
Instagram: I follow many travel bloggers and adventure enthusiasts on Instagram. Every day I discover a new place I want to visit from the amazing photography that pushes through my feed. It helps fuel my wanderlust when I’m homebound and gives me new ideas for future itineraries.
Pinterest: Pinterest is another site to find jaw-dropping photos of places to visit, activities to do, and things to eat. I created a board called Travel Dreams on my Pinterest page so I could tag and remember all of the places I want to go in the future.
Agoda: For my recent two month trip throughout Asia, I found Agoda offered the cheapest hotel prices. It’s the fastest growing online hotel platform in the world, and it seemed to beat out other sites like Hotel.com and Expedia.com when I compared prices for the same hotel listing.
Airbnb: This is an excellent alternative to staying in hotels. You can book someone else’s home to stay in, or list your own home for other travelers to use. It’s a great way to be able to cook for yourself, have larger groups stay together, get a more local experience, or have the opportunity for a truly unique stay, such as calling a treehouse or a castle your home for a week! I recently used Airbnb to stay in the middle of vineyards in Napa, California, for a quaint wine country experience.
TripAdvisor: I use TripAdvisor to get the real dish on hotels and other attractions. I find Yelp to be saturated with fake good reviews that inflate the business’s ratings. So I head over to TripAdvisor to get the honest and up-to-date scoop. It has saved me several times from booking a hotel that looked good on the website, but got truly awful reviews.
FlightCar: This is a money-saver and a convenience for getting to the airport. I don’t have a parking spot in San Francisco, so I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do with my car while abroad for two months. Have a friend move my car every week for street cleaning?? Enter FlightCar. I registered my car and dates of travel on the FlightCar website, drove to FlightCar on the day of my departure (thus saving on taxi or shuttle money), and then left my car with them for two months so they could rent it to other drivers. At the end, I raked in $200 a month for letting them use my car! And they gave it back sparkling clean. *Update: I recently had a poor experience with FlightCar, where my car came back dented with paint scrapes, dirty inside, and the attendant didn’t alert me of the issue — I thankfully checked my car and pointed it out. Their customer service team was not very polite in assisting with payment for the damage done to my car.
ON THE ROAD
Outbound: Traveling solo? Looking for events or meet-ups happening nearby? Want tips for the best nightlife or attractions in town? The Outbound App lets you find and connect with travelers of all types who will be in the same place at the same time as you. You can sort by traveller type (female-only, caravaners, corporate travelers, families) and by demographic (age, gender, nationality) to connect with like-minded travelers. I’ve used the Noticeboard to solicit advice on upcoming trips, and I enjoy answering other travelers’ questions.
WhatsApp: This is a no-brainer if you’re traveling overseas and want to connect with people — for free! You can send text messages, photos, videos, and even audio messages. I turned off my data plan and just used WhatApp and Google Hangouts to keep in touch with my family and friends back home.
Google Goggles: Have you ever stood in front of a famous building, statue, painting, or other image, but you couldn’t remember the name of it? The Google Goggles app lets you take a picture of the item in question, and if it finds the image in its database, it will provide useful information about your mystery item.
Are there travel tools, apps, or websites that you find helpful when planning a vacation? I’m all ears!
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