Top 5 Sites to Ease Your Travel Planning
Dreams of lazy summers stir in the spring, but months of time off are a thing of the past. You still want to experience hidden local culture — or even the trendiest hangouts — but lack the time to do the research or wander off course. Luckily we live in a world where sharing information online is the norm, which is good news for travelers looking to create the perfect itinerary. I tested out five hot sites that take advantage of today’s group-think economy by devising a yoga trip to Costa Rica. No site did it all. But put them together, and you’ve got a killer toolbox.
Whether you’re looking for budget accommodation or just want to check out multiple neighborhoods during your visit, you can find rentals almost anywhere through AirBnB. Guests and hosts alike may be verified by Facebook and Twitter or create profiles, thereby becoming “trusted strangers.” Dozens of options popped up in my Costa Rica search, and each comes with a local tour guide built in.
A flight-search site available on computers and mobile devices, Hipmunk collaborates with you alone, sorting results byprice, duration or “agony" (a factor of layovers, flight times and duration). Hipmunk lets you filter results to quickly find the best flight for your needs. Of sites I typically check for flights, this was the only one that found options on the days I was looking for.
This site gives you the freedom to ask anything about anywhere you want to travel. It functions like asocial network where travelers connect with locals for advice. I input places I’ve traveled, and the site suggested questions I might answer for others. Travellr has promise, but I’m still waiting for tips on Costa Rica. A question about the water temperature in the Galapagos, however, garnered an answer in less than two minutes.
This site searches your social networks to find friends who’ve been where you’re planning to go. Only those friends can make recommendations, which eliminates the problem of unsubstantiated user suggestions. It’s also possible to leave trip details on the site, but you need a network of friends on Trippy before that's useful. Likewise, if you’re going somewhere uncharted in your network the site is no help at all. In my case I got some great tips on lodging, but again no yoga.
Here you can buy or sell your own unique tours around the world. A simple Facebook sign-up allowed me to plug in my destination and start searching. Friend recommendations can help users evaluate among the tours. A few interesting options came up in Costa Rica, though nothing for yoga.
BONUS! Keep in touch.
People love post cards. Now you can send one from the road with a photo you took. Simply upload your picture at HazelMail, enter the address of one or more recipients, type a brief message, and click. For about $1.50, you’re creating, personalizing and mailing.