I promise you, I am not stuck on repeat and only writing about travel planning. It’s just with a short trip days away, that is where my head is right now. So, let’s get down to business.
When it comes to travel, it is almost impossible to do the planning and preparation without the Internet. I imagine it could be done by calling an airline to ask about airfares, then booking. And I guess you could do the same for a hotel and maybe even visit the car rental place in person and book your vehicle that way. Does anyone do that? Not that I know.
But what makes a good travel website? Is it a well-designed webpage? Maybe, it’s the freshness of information? Could it be a snappy moniker that is easy to recall? I say it’s all three! To me (it is my blog, after all) a good travel website:
- is easy to navigate
- provides up-to-date relevant information
- has a name that’s easy to remember when I’m away from my eDevice
The three websites I use time and again provide all three hallmarks of a good website. Please note that this is an unsponsored post and I only recommend places, sites, and tools I actually use.
- AirfareWatchDog.com From the cute terrier-esque logo to the travel blog, this site (from travel journalist George Hobica) delivers in a variety of ways. Using their fare alert sign up, I have been able to find really REALLY good airfare for my upcoming trip to Vancouver and for a future trip to Mexico. Even better is that they are not SPAMmy at all! I have my preferences set to receive three of their four newsletter and I never feel over-emailed or bothered in any way and I have a LOW tolerance for emails, even about travel. The blog is chock-a-block with useful and timely information written in an engaging manner. Every Saturday morning (loosely defined as sometime before 2pm when I wake up), I like to enjoy my coffee while ready through the latest posts on the blog and in the eNewsletter. If you aren’t following them on Twitter (@airfarewatchdog), do it now! Well, do it after you finish reading my blogpost.
- SeatGuru.com Late to the party, as usual, I only discovered SeatGuru about three years ago. This site provides the excellent service of telling you where your seat is located on an aircraft. Why is this important? Because you may think you have a good seat, but since configurations vary plane to plane, you may not have the room you expect and isn’t it nice to know while something can be done about it – i.e. BEFORE you board? Picture this….you are flying to Australia on Qantas (yay, Qantas!) and you think you’ve scored an amazing seat – 51C. Huzzah! Aisle over the wing, baby! Ah, not so fast, grasshopper. According to the helpful folks at SeatGuru, you are RIGHT NEXT TO THE GALLEY! Plan to sleep? You won’t get much shut-eye right next to the lights and sounds of food prep. If you are lucky, you can make friends with the flight attendants and get LOTS of coffee refills. SeatGuru is laid out really well, is easy to search, and offers a comparison feature so you can suss out which body is best by type of haul and class. Using SeatGuru, I have successfully avoided bulkheads AND scored aisle (over the wing) seats for the past 6 trips!
- TripAdvisor.com I’ve been a longtime user of and contributor to this site. From the wise owl peering through binoculars in its logo, to the ease of navigation TripAdvisor is a joy to use. I especially admire the breadth of locales for which one can find information. For Pete’s sake, you can find more than 34,000 reviews and opinions for Bhutan, a country that just instituted a parliamentary democracy in 2008! I’d say that’s comprehensive, wouldn’t you? While I am not big on public opinion, I do appreciate the concrete information that is available, like “how many miles/Kim’s is the world’s largest ball of twine from the best-preserved Yeti carcass?” When it comes to opinions, it is good to read a wide variety and not rely on just a few. One man’s bedbugs are another woman’s 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. As a frequent reviewer (Level 5 contributor, right here!), I really like the ability for user to post questions and have other travelers provide an answer. If you are bouncing around the site, look for me under JavaAndJunket. TripAdvisor also has hotel booking as a feature. I have only used this feature once; to book my Vancouver hotel, so hopefully my reservation will be honored. I’m always skeptical about that. Then again, I still have skepticism about “the cloud”. How do I know my cloud and your cloud won’t collide and create a thunderstorm?
There you have it! Armed with those three sites and a bit of time, you could easily plan a RTW trip with all the bells and whistles. I’d love to hear your opinion on these sites or any you prefer, so let’s me know your thoughts.