Resources to plan for your next trip

Resources to plan for your next trip

Did you pick your destination for your next trip? Or are you still deciding where to go? Either way, you might be looking for resources to plan for your next trip.  Maybe you’re still deciding where to go, but you want to get inspired!

This will not be an exhaustive list of every resource you can use for trip planning and inspiration, but it should get you started with the fun!

Resources to plan for your next trip — AirBnB

Air Travel

Carrier Websites (Delta, United, American, etc.): I always start my flight searches by looking directly at main carrier websites.  Although these flights are often more expensive, they may be more direct and at better times.  Plus, if you are an awards member for an airline, this can be a great way to earn points or use points (and get a flight for free!).  

Google Flights:  Google Flights is great because you can do a general search. Then see all routes to your destination.  You can also set search notifications for when prices drop. 

Travelocity, Expedia, and Kayak: I lump all of these together because of how similar they are.  Similar to Google Flights, you can search to your destination and get all routes (regardless of carrier).  

Skiplagged: This is a new favorite of mine.  For some reason, Skiplagged always seems to find me the cheapest flight routes.  Sometimes they are very indirect (ie. many layovers).  But it’s great if cost is truly your number one priority when planning your trip.  This could save you $200-$1000! That’s pretty amazing.  

This is how we bought tickets for Croatia.  They ended up being flights through main carriers (Delta and KLM) at a super affordable price ($600 roundtrip per person!). 

Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights): You can get registered to be a member of Going. There are different level of memberships.  It’s a great resource to give you a heads up when flights are going to drop in price.  

Going has staff working on different destinations all around the globe.  They find when a specific airline or a specific city is going to drop their flight prices.  It might be a short window of time. It might be for travel at a certain time of year.  You can set your profile to fly out of certain airports.  Going will notify you about these drops in prices out of your designated airports.  

If budget is a main priority for your next trip, maybe you should pick your destination based on the deals Going can find??!

Continent specific airlines: each continent has specific airlines that are designed to fly people short distances.  You can Google these options if you are looking to do air travel within your vacation. 

For example this could include Sun Country Airlines flying through the U.S. and Central America (think getting away for your spring break from cold, Midwest states). Ryan Air is another great example — get budget flights throughout Europe. Easy Jet is another European budget airline.

Accommodation

Trip Advisor: I actually don’t use Trip Advisor much for accommodation.  But I have used it for other things.  The reviews are a great tool! If you find a place you’re interested in staying, you could look it up on Trip Advisor and see what the reviews are like.  

Booking: We booked most of our Italy honeymoon accommodation through Booking. I like Booking because of the reviews and the search function. I find it really reliable and safe. We had some of the best bookings in northern Italy through Booking.com 

Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia: Just like air travel, these resources are great for looking at hotels.  Sometimes you can find package deals with air travel and air transportation.  This can be convenient, especially when you don’t have tons of time to plan these details.  

Sun Country: I mentioned Sun Country above under Airfare. Yes — it is a specific Airline carrier.  It’s budget friendly.  But Sun Country also has organized packages that include air travel and accommodation to various destinations (think winter-getaways).   If you’re looking to plan your spring break trip to somewhere warm at an affordable price, consider Sun Country!

AirBnB: I really do love AirBnB travel.  This is how we slept every night of our trip in Croatia (blog post here) and for some of our Italy trip. We also use Airbnb a lot through our local travels in Minnesota and Michigan.

AirBnB is one of my favorite ways to travel. When considering hotels vs. AirBnbs, there are pros and cons to both.  A benefit of staying in a hotel is that breakfast might be included.  In addition, if you have an early check-out hotels might store your baggage for you.  

But the amazing thing about AirBnB’s is that you experience a home in another country and have it all to yourself!

VRBO: The same here as for AirBnB above.  Often the listings are really similar, but sometimes you will see different listings on each site.  

Train Travel 

Eurail: Eurail has the most comprehensive train system travel guides and routes in the world.  While this is mostly relevant for travel through Europe, the ease and experience is amazing.  You can plan your routes with Eurail.  Buy your tickets in advance, and be able to see 3 or 4 countries with ease!

Country-Specific train ticket platforms: Many countries in Europe have their own train ticket platforms. For example, for most of our Italy travels we booked train tickets through ItaliaRail. It’s easy and convenient. You can have your train ticket with you on your phone. But just do some research depending on where you’re traveling to find the most reputable train ticket platform online.

Ferry Travel

Resources to plan for your next trip — ferries

Ferry Hopper: this is another resource for some of the best ferry travel between countries. Again, this is centered around Europe.  But if that is where you’re traveling, this could be a great option to consider getting from one place to another. 

You can buy your tickets in advance.  It’s fun to plan your trip using their website.  We used them for both travels through Croatia and Greece. Ferry Hopper is kind of like the Expedia for ferries. There are multiple ferry companies throughout the Mediterranean (as an example). Ferry Hopper has all of them in one place. You can search for your destination and date, find expedited (more expensive) ferry options or slower (more affordable) tickets.

Food, Restaurants, and Experiences

Youtube: This is a great place to watch videos on the destination you are planning to travel to.  There are plenty of travel vloggers out there. Follow them! Subscribe to them! 

Use Youtube to search based on your destination and find new favorites.  

I love hearing from these people about the food, restaurants, excursions, and other experiences.  You can see it and get a feel for it in their videos (whether it’s a specific restaurant in Sardinia, a photoshoot with a specific photographer in Cartagena, or a favorite museum in Bangkok).  

Instagram: Similar to Youtube, Instagram allows you to feel a more personal connection with random people that have traveled to where you are going.  

Blogs: I love finding tips from blogs (not just because I have one).  Blogs are similar to Youtube, but you get everything in writing. I personally find these more easy to navigate when I’m actually working on planning a trip.  If I see a restaurant continue to pop up in a couple people’s blogs, I make a note of it.  Maybe I will even make reservations!

You can even find tips on where to find the best tiny espressos!

Google: This is a great way to get started.  Search “best restaurants in ______” for example.  You will be on your way!

Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor is great for restaurant recommendations as well as excursions.  Such a great tool!

Viator: I’m not sure if I was late to the game or if Viator is just gaining popularity. I’ve only used it since 2022. But we have found some of the best experiences through Viator. We’ve booked everything from our sunset cruise in Cartagena to our walking tour in Florence through Viator.

AirBNB Experiences: I’ll end here.  I HIGHLY recommend using AirBnB for planning your whole trip.  We had great experiences booking “experiences” in different cities through AirBnB.  Sometimes it’s local businesses using AirBnB as another platform.  Other times, it’s a local that just wants to give tours or make dinner for you.  All of these come with reviews.  But these “experiences” have been such a positive part of our trips.  

Language

Duolingo: Duolingo is one of the best language apps out there! It’s a great idea to try to understand a little of a language before you travel somewhere.  While Duolingo doesn’t focus as much on how you say “where is the bathroom?” or “how are you doing” it can give you a foundation.  It’s also fun to do and you can compete against your travel companions!

Google: Google translate is a great tool for looking up language when you are there. It’s also great to look at ahead of time.  You can hear them say “how are you?” or “thank you” in the new language. 

Planning a trip can be a little overwhelming. It can also be so exciting! To me, this is half of the fun when traveling! I love anticipating what we are going to see, experience, and taste.  For me, planning a trip turns a trip from a one week vacation to a several-months-long experience. 

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