Whether you’re browsing travel destinations on a rainy afternoon or pricing a specific itinerary, it’s always a challenge to find travel options that fit within your schedule and budget. With a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, it can be overwhelming to navigate through so much travel information. So we’re here to help you narrow your search!
We’ve put together our favorite resources that take the hassle out of planning and, while we’re at it, recommending a few creative and budget friendly options you might not have on your list. Happy planning!
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First things first: Let’s talk flights. There are an endless number of search engines all with their own twist on travel planning—each focuses on specific preferences and uses slightly different algorithms. So know that the below sites differ by search specification and how you want to structure your trip, whether by specific dates and defined destination or flexible schedule and no location in mind.
Kayak has leaped to the head of the pack by offering not only flight searches but also hotel, flight, and car rental information. The search platform offers +/- 3 days to play with—especially helpful when searching for the most affordable day to fly. All airlines are aggregated into one place, and recently Southwest fares were added to the results. Also, if you have time to watch prices a bit before booking, customize an alert that will track the cost of your itinerary and send you email updates when prices change (either up or down).
Hopper is a free app that shows future price variance. Search one, two, or three months ahead to see the cheapest time to visit a specific destination. It’s also a great tool for pinpointing when high or low season hits because if flight prices fall, chances are hotels are more affordable as well.
For the curious traveler without a set plan, JetLookup uses your home airport and shows destinations with the cheapest flights. We love this site for when we don’t have an exact plan but want to go somewhere new.
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Friend recommendations, guide books, online research—there is so much information out there, but what about travel tips geared toward specific interests and itinerary? Here are just a few!
Utrip creates personalized itineraries based on a traveler’s interests and budget using artificial intelligence and traveler reviews. Simply enter the dates you’ll arrive at your destination along with a ranking of a dozen categorized interests and a day-by-day itinerary is sent straight to your inbox.
Vayable is a platform that gives travelers the opportunity to discover unique experiences and gives locals the opportunity to share their passions. From art or food to filmmaking or history, simply search your destination and then filter by interests to find great activities led by local insiders.
Tripit is the most hassle free way of keeping track of your trip details in a central location. Any travel confirmations, itineraries, tickets, bookings, or reservations are easily stored in Tripit, are shared with contacts, and even synced to your Google calendar. Other bonus features include an airline reward point tracking, seat notifications when upgrades are available, and maps that add key sights to your itinerary.
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Airbnb offers options to stay in local apartments or homes during your visit. But always make sure to check that the location is central, previous guest reviews are positive, and that your preferred amenities are included! You can always reach out to the host to say hello and inquire about the space before booking to ensure it’s available for your dates (and that they are welcoming!). Another similar site to try is VRBO.
Hipmunk is a quirky tool that has a heat-map option to highlight areas with great food, shopping, or nightlife. It makes it easy to see hotels that receive the highest rating in price, stars, and location.
Since launching in 2010, this app is the perfect tool for last minute travelers looking for same day hotel rooms. You can book rooms up to seven days in advance, but the highest price savings are for same day accommodations (because hotels are trying to fill rooms at discounted rates). We love their “Why We Like It” search feature that gives a quick synopsis of each property’s best amenities and places them in a category such as charming, luxe, or basic to help you make quick decisions on-the-go.