So you’re planning a vacation. You envision a grand getaway to recharge and reconnect with nature and your loved ones. A chance to completely immerse yourself in a new culture and escape the chaos of daily life… once you’ve actually arrived.
For many, that moment can’t come soon enough, and the interval separating them from their next vacation is a hectic time filled with time-consuming preparations. Deciding on the perfect locale, factoring in different family members’ schedules, organizing excursions… it’s enough to leave your head spinning.
While many hotels (including Isla Palenque) offer concierge trip-planning assistance, there are now several online tools that make planning your next vacation a tropical breeze. Here are a few of my favorites:
- TripIt This mobile travel organizer tool frees you from the piles of paperwork that tend to accumulate (and magically disappear) when you’re planning a trip. It’s green and easy, and best of all it’s free! TripIt links to your email account and picks up every confirmation number that comes into your inbox. Any flight, hotel booking, or reservation that contains a confirmation number gets pulled into an organized itinerary, allowing you to access all of your travel information in one place.
- Trippy If you love Pinterest, you’ll have no trouble using Trippy, an amazing resource that makes coordinating group trips a cinch. With a similar layout and functionality to Pinterest’s, Trippy allows users to pin and plan their dream vacations. It’s like creating a beautiful, customized travel brochure that your friends and family members can comment on to provide insight into the places they’ve been through recommendations and tips. The site (which only launched last September) recently rolled out a new map tool that locates all the photos you’ve posted to your boards and pins them to a world map so you can localize your travel wish list. Other similar sites include Wanderfly and Gogobot, but I found Trippy to be the most user-friendly.
- Hipmunk Hipmunk is a great tool for booking flights and hotels. The site displays flights from all kinds of airlines in a visual grid format so at a glance you can compare your options while weighing pros and cons of arrival times, layover, and price.
- TripTwit If you don’t have time to scroll your Twitter feed all day long (and really, who does?), but don’t want to miss the best travel exclusives, you need to be using TripTwit. This up-to the-minute alert system can be set up to monitor tweets from travel vendors and deals by destination, sending you email notifications with flash sales and low prices from your favorite hotels, airlines, etc.
- Bing and Google Flight and Travel Search Both sites feature comprehensive flight and hotel searching capabilities, but they also provide additional features to help facilitate your travel plans. It cuts down on search time by allowing you to completely customize your query. As part of an advanced search function, you can tailor your search to select your flight based on departure and arrival airports, time, price and flight duration, as well as a preferred airline.
With all of these slick online travel tools to make the process fun and easy, you’ll be a trip-planning pro like our friend Mark Scherr, who recently pulled off the perfect family trip to Panama.
Travel well, everybody!