the reason i love to planning my trip itineraries ahead is because it leaves room for spontaneity! here are the resources i use in my planning process:
- travel advice—i quite enjoy reading the interesting content on Independent Traveler.
- booking flights—i love the range of options provided by google.com/flights, Hipmunk, Kayak and SkyScanner.net—especially when you search by “everywhere” on the last two sites to find value tickets. i never book a trip without checking other sites, including the airline of the flight i want to buy.
- booking lodging—rather than book pricey hotels, i check out Booking.com, Trip Advisor, Airbnb.com and hostels.com to see what B&Bs might be suitable for my stay. i’ve recently started checking out options at convents/monasteries!
- planning activities—anytime i plan a trip to a new place, i always check the top rated things to do on Trip Advisor. Travelzoo is my favorite deal site, followed by Groupon, LivingSocial and Amazon Local.
- packing—i typically buy luggage from eBags.com and travel clothes and gear from REI.com. my favorite suitcase brand is Travelpro. the site 3floz.com has a great selection of travel-sized toiletries!
i depend on my iPhone so much when i travel. here are my go-to apps:
- expense tracking—Splitwise is a must if traveling in a group.
- wifi finder—i use WiFi Map and SpeedSpot to stay connected while on-the-go.
- phone calls, instant messaging, SMS—WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts and Google Voice allow me to communicate with friends and family back home very easily.
- photos—just like millions of other users, i publish my photos using Instagram. but first, i edit them with Snapseed.
- maps—i favor Google Maps because i can save the places i plan to see ahead of time. saved locations appear as a star on your map if you’re signed in with a google account. also, on the iPhone 6, Google Maps works over a cell network without using data as long as the map itself is cached in the phone’s memory. so, while online, pull up the map you need, zoom in and out to get full coverage, and voila! you’ll have access even without a data plan.
- language—there are plenty of apps to help you with learning vocabulary for your language of choice, such as Duolingo. regardless, Google Translate is handy for looking up any word of phrase you might need.
- conversion—i use Globe Convert to convert currency and measurements.
- tipping customs—i hate not knowing local tipping customs! use Globe Tipper to help you leave the right amount of tip as you travel.
- travel itineraries—i’m old school and like to keep my travel notes directly in my Google Calendar or in a document. Google Drive and Evernote work great.
- entertainment—i subscribe to Spotify Premium and Netflix since they also work outside of the US (even without a VPN in some places). i like having the Kindle Reader app to help manage boredom during travel delays.
my airline of choice is American Airlines. here’s how I earn bonus miles, even when i’m not flying:
- AAdvantage eShopping—originate your online shopping here and earn miles for your purchases
- AAdvantage Dining—register your credit card here and earn airline miles as you dine out
- credit card—after receiving the umpteenth letter with a 50,000 bonus miles offer, I gave in and signed up
- promotions—American Airlines offers bonus miles for rental car, hotel, and specific flight bookings
- other—earn miles on the airline of your choice by booking your hotel on Rocketmiles
good luck planning your trip!