Travel Planning on the Internet
As you think about taking a trip, here are some basic travel resources online to get you started. This is not an end all, be all list, but simply the basics. If you’d like more in-depth information on travel resources, visit that section on our website by clicking here or by using the menu above.
On The Web
Okay, there’s the obvious ones, Google, Bing, etc, but here’s some places you may not have thought of to take a look at that can help you in your travel planning.
Official Tourism Office Worldwide Directory This is a great place to start your search. For almost every country it lists the official tourism website for that destination. Plus, sometimes it even lists major cities or provinces within the country as well. If you search on your own, make sure you’re looking at the “official” website and not just some clone that’s been setup by a travel agency.
US CIA World Factbook They’ll give you general information about the country, overview maps, demographic details and a short history of the country. This is very useful when you want to find out a bit more detail about a destination.
US State Department This website details every country and any important information you need to know that could affect your travel. Military coup? Riots in the streets? This website will keep you up-to-date on the latest in every country.
Wunderground This website has detailed information on weather for just about every local destination around the world. You can see historical averages going back many years, as well as current weather information as well. Who wants to plan a beach vacation during rainy season?
Trip Advisor Many people think of Trip Advisor as only having information about hotels or restaurants. Over the years they’ve expanded their website to include a lot of good general destination information as well.
Concierge.com Run by the folks at Conde Nast, this is their web based resource for all things travel. This site will help you not only do destination research, but can also provide you with a list of highly vetted travel agents by destination, to help you with your planning if you wish to go that route.
Books/Mobile & Web Guides
Sure, it’s old fashioned, but you can still get a lot of good information from print materials (as in actually printed on paper of all things) as you can off of the web. Note that most of the one’s listed below have companion websites as well.
Moon Travel Guides This is our “go to” print guide for any destination we go to that they cover. These guides are probably the best of all guides printed today. Their usually up-to-date, concise, yet cover just about anything you’d like to see or any place you’d like to go. This is great for those travelers who want to venture “off the beaten path”. Sure, they do a great job at covering all the major destinations, but they can also guide you to that little cafe on the corner that you would otherwise pass by. The other nice thing about these guides is that the authors have personally been to each location they write about. We’ve used these for years and 98% of the time, we’ve discovered great little places that most tourists don’t even think about, plus the reviews have been spot on. The downside is that they only cover North America, Latin America and South American destinations. Their website is www.moon.com
Rick Steve’s Travel Guides If your destination is Europe, look no further than Rick Steve’s Travel Guides. The popular PBS show host, knows Europe like the back of his hand. His guides include very detailed information not just about the major sights, but also the ones you don’t often hear about. Traveling to Europe without one of his guides would be a big mistake. He updates his guides regularly and if you’re ever in the Edmonds, WA area (30 minutes north of Seattle), you can stop by his office and travel center where he has an extensive resource library, as well as a very knowledgeable staff to help plan your trip. His website is www.ricksteves.com.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides If you’re looking for a guide that has a TON of great photos to go along with information, these are your guides. They certainly aren’t “pocket worthy”, but they are the most illustrative travel guides around. The information is good, especially on the popular tourist attractions. In fact, we’d say they give more in-depth information on popular tourist sites than any other guide. These guides are printed with very high quality paper and binding, so they’ll last for a long time and put up with typical travel abuse. If you’re looking for a guide for a major, popular destination, you can sometimes find them at your local Costco at a heavily discounted price. Their website is www.traveldk.com
Frommers, Fodors & Lonely Planet All three of these guide books work well. They all give you a good overview of your destination, as well as recommendations on things to do, places to stay and places to eat. Usually, they stick to the “tried and true”, but occasionally they have some hidden gems. All three are good on-line resources as well. Our of the three we probably have a little more preference for Lonely Planet. They have a bit more detail about most things and also have more options for each destination.
Luxe City Guides If you’re traveling to a major world city, Luxe guides can be the perfect companion. They easily fit in your pocket and highlight most of the things to see and do in a city. They also give you tips on finding out of the way hotels, restaurants and shops. Usually things not listed in other guides. You won’t find any lengthy descriptions here. Just quick, short, one or two sentence descriptions. We’ve tested out a few and have found them very handy. Everywhere they recommend has been well vetted and we’ve never been disappointed. Their website is www.luxecityguides.com.
There are really two “go-to” magazines out there for all around good travel planning. Those are either Travel + Leisure or Conde Nast Traveler. They are the two major players in the game and both are good. If we had a preference, we’d go with Conde Nast. They have slightly better coverage and more in-depth detail on destinations. Another you might consider is Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel Don’t let the title fool you. It’s not all about budget travel. You can find some really great deals from time to time. Plus good articles on various destinations.