Getting there is half the fun, right? Rarely. If you are like us, you are always searching for the best deal and the best advice when you are planning your vacation. There are a tremendous amount of resources out there to help make this process a little less painful and a little more enjoyable. Social websites, blogs, and applications have proliferated over the past few years and we’ve done our fair share of testing many of them.
If you’re looking for reviews from people who have “been there,” WhereIveBeen is for you. Want to sidestep the Internet cafes and use your mobile phone or laptop, the Wi-Fi Finder is the must have app. Wondering if you chose the best seat on that transatlantic flight? Seatguru.com is for you. In search of exclusive hotel deals, don’t forget to visit the Hotels.com Facebook page. Running through the streets of Rome and need a bathroom, SitOrSquat will be your best friend. Having a little staycation, don’t forget about your daily steals on GroupOn and LivingSocial. Whether you’re headed out on the open road, hopping on a plane or spending a little quality time with the family poolside, let Fanscape help you make the most out of your vacation time with 10 more of our favorite travel apps and resources.
TripIt (Free: Android / Blackberry / iPhone / Online)
TripIt makes order out of the paper trail (virtual or otherwise) that has been created by planning a trip. It is a hub for all of your travel plans to reside – from flights to room reservations to rentals. After you’ve created a free account, simply email your confirmations to firstname.lastname@example.org and TripIt processes the information and creates a master itinerary for you. The service also connects you with local weather, directions and city guides to help you make the most of your vacation or business travel time. This information can also be shared with your friends, family and associates. The “Pro” version offers travel alerts, frequent flyer mile tracking and exclusive travel benefits. And at $49 per year the Pro version could be a life saver for the well-traveled business person. USA Today’s AutoPilot (iPhone.iTouch only), is a very similar service, but is designed to sync up with TripIt.
Yelp (Free: Blackberry / iPhone / Online)
True, Yelp has been around for a while now, but there’s hardly ever a time where this doesn’t come in handy when trying to figure out where to eat – at home or away. If your taste buds feel adventurous you can always try UrbanSpoon, but Yelp and its more than 11 million user-generated reviews can help you find the perfect restaurant, event or special offer. Businesses can set up accounts, but it is the users who provide the reviews in an unfiltered and unbiased manner – allowing for us to pick places based on real-life experiences.
Around Me (Free: iPhone only)
If you like to go where the day takes you, or even looking for the nearest gas station, try Around Me. It let’s a traveler or even a local quickly find information and businesses based upon your location. For every listing you can see the location on a map or view from where you are.
Travel Channel GO (Free: iPhone only – coming soon to Android and Blackberry)
The Travel Channel’s GPS-enabled travel tool allows you to explore the world and experience a city like a local – discovering the best things to do and see. Discover nearby places that were featured on the Travel Channel and get tips from trusted Travel Channel hosts. You can also share travel hot spots and experiences with your friends as well as fellow travelers.
Trip Journal ($0.99 iPhone / Android)
This is one cool app. Google Earth integration allows for friends and family to follow your routes, locations, full screen photos, video and blog entries. The app is also integrated with Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, making this a f-u-n and highly interactive app.
VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – is a fantastic site to find some of the best privately owned vacation rentals, homes, condos, cabins, villas and apartments. They have a blog that’s brought to you by the VRBO bear highlighting some of the actual rental properties available. You can search for a rental and even list your own property.
If you are a fan of the cruise ship lifestyle, CruiseCritic.com is a must visit site. This site offers editorial content, offers and news. What’s great about this site is its member review section. The member reviews are extensive and honest – providing specific information on cruise lines, particular ships and destinations as well as ratings on different aspects of the experience such as entertainment, excursions, family and children’s options.
TripAdvisor is like a trusted friend – helping you plan and have the perfect trip. Hotels, flights, restaurants and rentals, the site has’em. Unsure of where you even want to go? They also offer recommendations based upon your preferences. They’ve taken to the social space with a Facebook page and Twitter account than is the perfect complement to its website – offering discussions and relevant travel news for those about to depart.
Get yourself invited! Jetsetter is a private online community geared for the more sophisticated traveler that provides its members with great insider access to special sales to some of the world’s greatest resorts and destinations. If you’re familiar with Jetsetter’s sister site, discounted high fashion shopping hub, Gilt Groupe, you’ll understand that once you’re invited to be a part, you’ll have access to some great merchandise at fantastic prices.
This travel blog is part of the AOL family of blogs and is chock full of travel information and pictures. The great thing about this blog is it isn’t centered around one city or one component of travel, but rather covers just about everything – from deals to healthy road trip snacks. Interested in info on the Opryland Hotel, they have that too (psst, it’s re-opening on November 15th).
As we mentioned at the start, there are an incredible amount of travel resources at our fingertips – all devised to help simplify our lives. The more socially plugged-in we become, the easier it gets for us to make the best travel decisions and purchases. The result is a more carefree and enjoyable experience. Just what a vacation should be.