Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Travel Planning Tools

OK, so this is not all of the sites covered are are new, though a couple of them are. But I think it is worth visiting and commenting on the more established sites, instead of just covering the newest travel sites here. has an article on titled "Travel Websites Get Personal" by Wendy Tanaka, which is accompanied by a slide show of Seven Top Sites for Planning Your Vacation. If you hate those slides shows as much as I do, here is a quick list of the seven sites that they list, along with my own comments on each:
  1. - airline, hotel and vacation booking site, often finds the best deals in comparative studies - This is the one that I use the most on this list, though I normally enter it via the multi-site search engines of or

  2. - massive database of user-generated review, mostly of hotels - I use TripAdvisor occasionally to get information on hotels in places that I am very unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, I find the often conflicting reviews of the same place very confusing!

  3. - user reviews of destinations, hotels, restaurants, etc., more like blog entries, now part of I used IgoUgo recently to plan daily activities in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was too cheap to buy a guidebook for the short trip that I took there and looked at several sites like IgoUgo for tips on what to do and see, which I then printed out and took with me.

  4. - automatically generates guides for trip itineraries that you enter - I tried this once but found the results too general and diverse and not well suited to my interests. If you are interested in this approach, you might want to try, which is a new site that also creates a trip itinerary around your destination and interests. It currently only covers selected sites outside the US, but I think that will change over time.

    And there is also's Trip Finder (image above), which does the same thing and is a 2008 Webby Award nominee for Travel, along with several other sites listed here. (Note that the the preference scales on Trip Finder are also offered on, which I reviewed in June 2007.)

  5. - and more user reviews, plus a Q&A section, and links to real-life Travel Agents - I have not used this site and looking at it I am not sure that I, personally, would find its features that useful. Others might be different, though.

  6. - airlines and hotels, attempts to forecast future fares for mostly US cities (good luck with that these days of bankrupt airlines and sky-high oil prices!) - They are slowly expanding their forecasting coverages, but it basically does not work for international travel. Even for domestic US, I find the results of limited use as it cannot guarantee a certain future price (though I think there is a way to do that for a price).

  7. - airline fares, but with a Trip Quality Score based on lost luggage, on-time departures, legroom, and flight duration - based on what you indicate as important (US only) - This beta site is the newest on the list and I have not used it, though the concept is interesting. Here is a screenshot of its results - the big number is the quality score, the bars on the left are where you adjust your preferences:

When I plan my trips (which I have been doing a lot of lately), I start from a site that I created called "My Favorite Travel Websites". Here is a screenshot of that site (the photo of me and my daughter in Hawaii is from over 25 years ago):

On this Hubpage I post anything that I think I might use in planning my own personal and professional travels. Do I use everything that is there -- nope, but I might, some day. And even with this fairly comprehensive list, I often seem to find myself using new and different websites every time I plan a new trip. Go figure...