Travel Planning Made Easier With 3 Tools We May Already Have

Travel planning commonly starts with a destination. It may be a required business trip to visit a client. Our periodic vacation time might be coming up and we want to explore options that will fit our budget. We might just be daydreaming of a bucket-list destination and want to keep track of what it costs to get there. A variety of smartphone apps are available to help. Those with a stake in any given destination will want us to come visit their place of interest. But at the end of the day, the numbers and information we gather can be difficult to manage. Some tools we might already have available can help.

Spreadsheets are great things for compiling the data we accumulate when researching travel. Take an airline ticket for example. We may start with a price comparison site like Kayak, providing variables like the “From” and “To” destination points, the dates to “depart” and “return” and others.

Very quickly those few initial choice can turn into an unruly mass of choices that may be otherwise difficult to manage as Kayak invites us to check Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire and others. A spreadsheet via whatever program we may be familiar with can make order of that chaos.

Friends who have been there and done that can beat just about any visitor-generated website reviews. If uncle Bob, who we trust personally and know to give good advice, says destination x is best done a certain way, we take that to the bank and book it.
Uncle Bob may also have contacts at our destination and know the rules and regulations about getting there. On international travel, it’s always a good idea to double-check, but knowing that we don’t need any visas (or that we do and need to apply for them in a timely manner) when planning a cruise in the Mediterranean, for example, is good information to have up front.

Travel sources that have proven themselves to us can gain nearly as much trust too. By consistently following an expert on a certain topic, be that anything from adventure to business or cruise travel, we get to “know” and trust their words of wisdom. Those sources are putting their reputation on the line whenever they make a recommendation and we do well paying attention.

If I were going to Hawaii, for example, my first stop would be Gadling’s Maui-based freelance writer Kyle Ellison who lives there and knows the ins and outs of the destination.

Just considering these three tools can help make sense of travel options, giving us a baseline of reliable information that can serve us well. When it comes to planning hotels, airlines, car rentals and other elements of a trip, having our personal sources of information and our “go to” way of keeping track for all things related can help us get the most from our travel. Nothing beats having a good system in place up front.

The point is to use sources you know and trust. For example, PC users might use One Note, Bing Local Scout, Windows Phone and SkyDrive as we see in this video:

[Photo credit- Flickr user Dr Aek Muldoon]