Saying I’m a “planner” is an understatement. When I travel, I make sure I’m organized before I leave. I spend countless hours on the internet planning out every detail. The last time I planned a big trip was in 2011 when the possibilities were endless and I had to sort through all the information myself. Back then, I had time to devote to this. Now? Not so much. Luckily, people have identified this need and have created tools that are helpful when leveraged correctly! Let me show you how I use them:
1. Rome2Rio.com: Where to go
When the world is NOT your oyster you need Rome2Rio. Nothing is worse than getting your hopes up that you can travel to your two favorite cities and then realize that it would put you over budget. When I’m in the dreaming stage of planning, I start here.
You can see all options for travel on the left and can drill in for more information.
I simply put in two cities of my choosing and it will shows me all the ways to get from A to B and how much it could cost. Looks like a plane is the best way to get from Madrid to Paris. If I can’t find a good flight, the train is the next quickest option and the bus is the cheapest!
Tip: If you are doing a multi-city trip you can sometimes buy rail passes that can save you money!
2. Utrip.com: What to do there
This is my new favorite tool! I am going to San Francisco with my sister to visit family friends and we have NO idea what there is all to do there. So I came to Utrip and created a trip with our location and dates. I was able to customize the type of trip I wanted (First Timer) and my activity preferences. I clicked “Plan My Trip!” and my itinerary was created for me!
Set your preferences for a custom itinerary. You can see potential activities on the right which will help you see if you are on the right track.
The best part: You can edit your itinerary! I switched out a few of their recommended activities for new ones, added my flight time so it can schedule travel days accordingly, and I added my sister so she can help me plan!
In the itinerary view by date you can edit the list while having a visual of the location of each activity!
Note: Currently this is only available for select cities in Europe and the US. Also, rumor has it there is an app!
3. Bing/Google Maps: How to get everywhere
I have a pretty good sense of direction, but you can’t expect someone to have one in a new city. Even after my fifth visit to NYC I can still get a little twisted around. I started using map services through Bing and Google when I went to NYC to take dance classes and needed to know how to get to and from each studio. I realized I could create a trip where I put in the addresses and label all the different restaurants and activities we had planned. I then saved screenshots to my phone so I could access them without internet or send it to whoever I was traveling with.
We labeled this map with all the shows we were seeing, an amazing cookie shop, a dance studio, a dance shoe store, and a pizza place with gluten free pizza for my sister. You can also see the subway stops and lines!
This also helped us be more spontaneous and if we became hangry (hungry + angry) while at a last minute activity, we pulled out the map and found restaurants in the area we already checked out (and had gluten free options for my sister).
Now that you have some new tools, go forth and plan that dream vacation! I’ve heard planning the trip brings us more joy than actually going on it. Don’t mind me as I go plan a fake vacation to London… — J