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World Best Sites in Travel Planning

By travelanswerman | May 30, 2009

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway with your significant other or a less-than-exciting business trip, there’s a pretty good chance that you used the Internet to make travel arrangements. These days it’s hard to imagine a time before the Web made booking a cheap flight or mapping out a route so easy. Travel sites on the Web have continued to evolve, taking in all that Web 2.0 has to offer, and enhancing the ability to share information, work creatively and increase collaboration between users and companies. If you haven’t tried out these great travel sites on the Web, give them a go next time you’re planning a trip around the block or around the world.

Deal Finding

Find the best deal on a hotel or a plane ticket by using these simple and effective search engines.

  1. Kayak: This simple and easy-to-use online search tool works through several major sites to find you the best prices on flights, hotels and more. You can easily refine your search criteria to find the trip that meets your needs and your price range the best.
  2. SideStep: Find great bargains through SideStep, a search tool that browses through over 150 sites across the Web for guaranteed best deals on everything. You can easily integrate your whole trip as the site suggests hotels and activities through your destination that you might need.
  3. Farecast: Get predictions on whether the prices for your flight or hotel will go up or down in the next few days or weeks with this online tool, designed to help you get the best deals. While the future prices aren’t guaranteed, it can give you a good idea of the usual trends.
  4. InsideTrip: This site will give you tips on finding the best airline fares, but with an added bonus: the site provides trip quality scores, letting you know how often luggage has been lost, how often the flights are late, the amount of legroom and other important details.
  5. FareChase: Get powerful results on flights and hotels with this deal finder through Yahoo!. It trolls through major airlines and online ticket retailers to find the lowest prices and allows you to easily compare rates and flights.
  6. Travelocity: You’ll find results from some of the biggest players in online flight deals on this site. Travelocity works with sites like Expedia and Priceline to find the lowest rates on travel and hotels.

Mapping and GPS

Keep yourself from getting lost with these great online tools.

  1. GoogleMaps: GoogleMaps is perhaps the most widely used mapping tool out there and with so many features, integration into webpages and even browser extensions it’s no wonder. You can not only get directions but street views, locations of nearby business and services and even traffic reports.
  2. AskCity: Ask.com has released their own mapping tool with an incredibly easy-to-use interface and colorful mapping tools. Perhaps the best feature of the tool, however, is the ability to draw and save doodles on the map, which is essential for hard to follow directions and notes about travel.
  3. TeleNav: If you tend to get lost easily, whether driving or walking, you can help keep yourself on track with this mobile GPS tool. If you have internet access on your phone you can get all the features of a standalone GPS device on your phone like voice guidance, turn by turn navigation and more for a low monthly fee.
  4. 3D Tracking: Equip your family’s phones with this software and keep track of them while you’re at an amusement park or on vacation. The GPS software gets tracking information from the phone, making it easier to keep track of where everyone is at any time.
  5. AccuTracking: Do you have a directionally-challenged friend coming to visit? Ensure you can keep tabs on them with Accutracking. It lets you know the direction of the devices with the software installed, making it easy to tell your friends when they’re headed the wrong way without any confusing conversations about landmarks.
  6. Fresh Logic Atlas: Those who love slick looking tools will appreciate the interface of this mapping application. Get directions, find attractions and monitor traffic through this attractive program. One big drawback, however, is that it’s currently limited just to the US and Canada.

Carpooling and Parking

Make your trip to the airport or to a nearby city cheaper and less stressful with these tools.

  1. SpotScout: Find a place to park in many big cities in the United States. The program works in conjunction with those who would like to rent out parking spaces to travelers. You just find a spot near where you need to go, work out a price with the owner of the spot, and you’ll have access to worry free parking on your trip.
  2. ParkatMyHouse: For parking spot assistance outside of the United States there is ParkatMyHouse, the UK equivalent of SpotScout. You’ll be able to search for spots in all major metropolitan areas and compare prices to ensure that you get the best deal while you’re visiting.
  3. Ridester: This simple and easy-to-use tool is a great way to find someone to share trip expenses with. You can start by listing the times and destination of your trip and waiting for travelers to contact you or search through existing trips to see if someone else is going your way.
  4. eRideShare: Search through tens of thousands of ride listings in the United States and Canada with this site. You’ll be able to find someone to take every type of trip with, from running simple errands to making cross-country journeys.

Car Travel Tools

Car travel can be expensive and trying with high gas prices and heavy traffic. These tools can help you get the leg up on both.

  1. Traffic: Make sure you won’t get stuck in hours of traffic by using this convenient online tool. It gives you reports on congestion based on mile to mile reports so you’ll know the conditions of any road before you ever even leave your home.
  2. GasBuddy: You’ll be able to avoid paying more for gas on your trip around the block or across the country with this helpful tool. This site compiles gas prices from stations all over the country to help you to find the one that’s the lowest where you are.
  3. Radio-Locator: Don’t waste time scrolling through dozens of radio stations looking for one that suits your interests. This site has done the work for you by putting together a huge listing of radio stations from all over the world. You can browse through by genre, helping ensure you’ll find something that suits you.
  4. BizMile Tracker: Those who travel more for business than pleasure will appreciate this tool, which allows users to easily track the miles they travel each day for work so the expenses associated with them can be deducted from taxes.
  5. PL8Scan: Ever wanted to tell the person who just cut you off what you really think of them? With this site you just may be able to. Car owners register their vehicles with the site and other users will be able to send them text messages, whether helpful or angry.

Traveler Reviews

Get a little insight to the places you’ll be visiting on your travels with these great travel review sites.

  1. Trip Advisor: TripAdvisor has millions of reviews for places all over the world. Simply enter what you’re looking for, whether it’s “sushi places in Boston” or “English language bookstores in Paris” and get suggestions and reviews.
  2. Virtual Tourist: If you’re looking for a little inspiration on where to go for your next vacation, or advice on the best places to visit in a new city, you’ll find both at Virtual Tourist. The site is full of pictures, mapped destinations and tips which you can rate the effectiveness of.
  3. RealTravel: Want to know what the locals think? Check out this site. It pairs up your destination search with blogs from those living in the local area. Take advantage of the recommendation tool which asks you a few questions and generates places you might be interested in visiting.
  4. IgoUgo: Get reviews of local hotels, restaurants, and other attractions for destinations all over the world. This site is now part of Travelocity, and can be a great way to test the waters before heading off to a far-flung destination.
  5. World66: Similar to WikiTravel, this site allows users to create their own digital travel guides. Visitors to the site can write and update information about destinations anywhere in the world, providing travel insight or recommendations to readers.
  6. Yelp: Whether you’re looking for reviews of the restaurant down the street or a hotel halfway around the world you’ll find them on Yelp. The site provides comprehensive ratings, reviews and information on millions of destinations all over the globe.
  7. EpicTrip: This site provides loads of user reviews for travelers as well as some great unique tools. Take a virtual tour of your destination and popular hotspots on the site or get advice specially geared towards students who are taking trips.
  8. TravBuddy: Visitors to this site can share their travel experiences with others. Simply set up an account, write reviews, create a blog and the information others have shared.

Trip Planners

Plan out every leg of your trip by using these Web tools ahead of time or when you arrive.

  1. TripHub: Planning a trip for yourself can be hard enough, but what if you have to plan a trip for a diverse group of people? This site allows everyone going on the trip to access the details of the trip and make changes or suggestions, making it much easier to stay organized and conflict free on the trip.
  2. FlightStats: Delayed flights can put a serious kink in travel plans. This site can give you an idea of what flights are typically late and what airports have the worst records of delayed flights. You can also enter in your own flight information and get up-to-the-minute information about it.
  3. TripTie: Get some ideas of what to do when you’re in a new place with suggestions from TripTie. The site allows other travelers to post their itineraries so you can see what popular or interesting options are out there.
  4. TripIt: This is a useful tool for trip planning for those without any idea what they want to do in a given city. Simply enter in the information about your itinerary and the site will create a guide with activities for you. It may not always meet your interests but it’s a great place to start planning.
  5. Trip Finder: This Webby nominated site is another tool that will create a trip plan for you. The interface is attractive and easy-to-use, and you’ll be given some great suggestions of things to do on your trip.
  6. Schmap: Forget the guidebooks at home and just bring this program on your next trip. It downloads and installs on your computer and you can get guide information on destinations you’re interested in. It’s easy to navigate, gives you maps, and allows you to see virtual tours.

Social Networks

Share your travel plans and read about the experiences of others on these great sites.

  1. iloho: This well-established online community of travelers is a great place to post your travel stories and read those of others. The Digg-like front page will show you the most popular stories and allow you to vote on which you like best.
  2. Vcarious: Enjoy the benefits of this travel community which allows users to create blogs, post photos and videos and share travel tips and reviews.
  3. MyTripz: Share your travel plans with others and document them as you go with this site. You’ll be able to post stories about your travels and show photos of the places you’ve been, as well as read about the experiences of others.
  4. Dopplr: Designed for frequent travelers, this site allows you to build friendships with others and get their advice. You can post your travel plans online and get the opinions of people you’ve allowed to see them so you can refine your itinerary.
  5. Matador: Lovers of the great outdoors will get the most out of this travel network. Share your experiences hiking through the forest, rafting or whale watching on this site and even get a free blog to share with others.
  6. Jauntlet: This site is a great place to research and book travel. Simply create an interactive travel plan and you can use it to book flights or share it with friends via Facebook, MySpace or Blogger.

Entertainment

Find the best places to visit or things to do on your trip using these Web tools.

  1. HappyMappy: Find tourist attractions in the United States with this Web tool. Enter in your location and you can get the most popular attractions shown on a map that occur in categories like arts, nature, history, parks, sports, theater, concerts, nightlife and more.
  2. VeniVidiWiki: Take the features of HappyMappy to a global level with this tool which shows tourist attractions on an attractive map anywhere in the world. Mouse over places you’re interested in and you can get photos and information as well.
  3. GeoBirds: Love bird watching? Now you can share your birding experiences and travels on this site. It’s a great place for eco tourists to document their experiences and find out bird identifications. You can also share your rare bird sightings with birders from all over the globe.
  4. PodBop: Want to find out what concerts are going on in your area? Visit this site and you’ll get a listing of major concerts and local bands that are playing in your area any night of the week. Currently, it only works in the United States.
  5. 43Places: Finding things to do in a particular location couldn’t be easier with this tool. Enter in your city and you’ll get a list of events and places to visit that can keep you entertained and happy for the duration of your trip.

Meet Travelers

You don’t have to travel alone. Use these sites to make friends on your next trip.

  1. TravelersforTravelers: Sign up with this site and you’ll be able to chat with and arrange to meet other travelers in your destination city. You’ll also get tips on where to eat, stay and how to get around.
  2. AirTroductions: No one likes to get stuck sitting next to someone intolerable on a long distance flight, so why not plan to sit next to someone you might have a little in common with? This site can help you do that whether it’s for business or just to make a new friend.
  3. TravelSidekicks: Planning on hitchhiking your way through the US, Canada or Europe? Don’t do it alone! Find a buddy through the help of this site and you’ll be at least a little bit safer in your travels.
  4. PairUp: Make meeting up with clients and business associates easier with this Web program. You’ll be able to coordinate the schedules of several people meeting up for a conference or business meeting, or just find others looking for someone to talk with at the conference.

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