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What resources do you use to plan a trip?

What resources do you use to plan a trip?

Aug 27th, 2013, 08:57 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 493
Yes Peter_S, they were research. As you will see, neither got much in the way of responses. What does that tell you about the knowledge base of Fodors regulars?

Doesn't include much in the way of upmarket hotels in Switzerland and doesn't contain much knowledge on sailing around Corsica. No surprise.

If I had asked for a hotel suggestion in Venice, how many replies might it have attracted do you think? No doubt a lot. Again, no surprise. But once you step off that common path Peter_S, the knowledge base drops off a cliff.
Improviser is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,608
Travel magazines for ideas and inspiration.
Fodor's and Trip Advisor forums for specific questions.
Guidebooks for maps and overview of each city.
Plane tickets by looking at Expedia, then going to the airline's own website.
Book hotels on their own website or with the front desk directly.
suze is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
I sound out DS about where she wants to go--we are in a constant state of trip planning, so I've got a pretty good idea of where we're going to go next time.

Generally then get a Fodors Guidebook for the country if I don't already have one, because they give good overviews of what is where and also have good suggested itineraries and walking tours of cities. We're pretty experienced, however, so as I said, we have a good idea of where we're going and what we want to see when we get there.

I then rough out an itinerary and confirm it with DS. If I am not familiar with travel times for the country, I'll post it on this forum to get an idea if the itinerary is overly ambitious, which it generally is. I'll then adjust it.

I use tripadvisor.com to find hotels and generally use booking.com to book them.

Generally fly Delta Airlines as I'm in Atlanta and either get the car from them or from Europcar or Hertz as they are both reliable and easy to deal with. I've booked some hotels with Delta as well, and they've been fine. Always use the online booking.

If I'm taking the train or a ferry, I'll usually book online if I have to make a connection or if time is limited. Otherwise, I'll wing it. Also, lately have been trying to leave a little slack in the schedule--two or three days out of two weeks to go where the mood moves us.

We've been to most countries in Europe so have roadmaps of most. We pick up city maps as we go along--most hotels have one.

kovsie--we would never go to a city without knowing what we were going to do there and where it is located or without a place to stay prebooked for the entire stay in the city--in Europe and in the US. Tripadvisor is invaluable as it has traveler reviews so that you can tell what places are living on their reputations, what places are new enough not to be in the guidebooks but good places to stay, what places are good for what kinds of travelers. etc. Then double check the reviews on booking.com.

One thing we always do in a city is to book a hotel with proximity to public transportation.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 10:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,051
One of my favorite websites for finding out who flys where so I can get about most painlessly is hipmunk.com. I've even booked through them when I found their rates cheaper than the airlines website (Thai Air within southeast Asia). It helps narrow down airports and airlines.
Grassshopper is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 177
We use lots of guide books, input from friends who’ve lived in Europe, this forum and other internet resources, maps & a good atlas of Europe, and our travel notebook.

Our notebook contains all kinds of information on places we might want to visit, including rough drafts of itineraries we’ve considered in the past. Much of the information is gathered from this forum, from the travel channel (when it was a travel channel), from others we’ve met while traveling, and travel articles clipped from NYT, Travel & Leisure, etc. We read travel info weekly and add to the notebook regularly.

Once we have a rough itinerary, we begin checking that the info in our notebook on hotels/b and b’s is still valid. We mostly book direct with the hotel, but sometimes use Booking.com. or Venere.

When we drive, we reserve thru Andy at Gemut. When we travel by train, we consult ManInSeat61 and BETS and then book direct with the appropriate website for each country we’re visiting & print our tickets. We don’t use RailEurope.

An example from our notebook: we had a recommendation from BobTheNavigator and bettyK on a great place to stay in St. Gilgen, Austria, the Schernthaner. We spent 4 nights there during our last trip to Germany & Austria in 2011, and hope to return in a few years for another visit to the Salzkammergut. Perhaps we would have discovered the Schernthaner on our own, but we always appreciate having a recommendation from Fodorites whose opinions we respect. There are lots of very knowledgeable posters on this forum.
trotters is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 493
"without a place to stay prebooked for the entire stay in the city--in Europe and in the US."

Oh my, your insecurities are showing dwdvag. I'd never go to a place WITH a pre-booking (other than the first night sometimes if I will arrive late in the day). I've yet to have to sleep on a park bench or in the car.

There are very few places at very few times when it is anywhere near necessary to pre-book anything. It never fails to amaze me how people who only have 2 weeks of freedom a year immediately handcuff themselves voluntarily with pre-bookings.
Improviser is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 01:22 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 49,521
Generally guide books such as Rick Steves, Fodors, posting questions here. We also check Trip Advisor for feedback from travelers.
nanabee is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
Oh, yes -- definitely Gemut.com for car rentals!
kja is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 01:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 2
WOW. You all ROCK! Thanks so much for the tips, there are lots of resources I've never heard of and am now anxious to check out. Thank you!
JGrant55 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 550
We always use Gemut.com too. One year we had a problem with billing once we returned and they were very helpful resolving the issue. And you deal with real people, always a plus!

We always buy a good map and put it on our easel with our pins in it. Makes it easier to see what makes sense if traveling by car.

We scour the library and the internet. Google is such fun when travel planning, I have come across some very fun things while just punching in town names. Many of these little towns have websites now and you can get the scoop on local festivities.

Everyone has a different comfort level. We like our places to sleep to be prebooked, that is how we travel. We always draw up a very detailed itinerary which we can switch around as we find venues, etc. we might like to visit. Again, a personal thing and something that just works for us. The beauty of travel is you can do it however you like.

We look for recommendations on places but have gone out on a limb several times just to be in a certain area (or have our beloved and utterly necessary outdoor space to ourselves) and have only had one dog in 12 years of doing this .

Once we decide where we want to go we begin to watch the fares. Typically we are purchasing in February for September travel. After that all the rest has to be planned for.

For us trip reports (thank you, thank you, thank you all that write and post trip reports!!!) provide a good deal of insight to various areas we might have overlooked or may wish to avoid-not everyone enjoys the same thing-and that is OK.

We find that the planning is almost as much fun as the trips themselves. Happy Planning!
LuvToRoam is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
Improviser--easy for you to say. Bet you don't travel with spouse and children, or with a spouse who has mobility issues and therefore can't walk up many flights of stairs.

When I go to South America by myself, I book the first nite and the last nite and wing it for the rest of the trip. But I speak Spanish pretty well,don't have very high standards for lodging, and can get around. My spouse has high standards and needs certain things.

We do "plan" a few free days towards the end of the trip. But we will always book a hotel in the morning for that nite when we're checking out of the previous one. We used to ask the desk clerk to do it, but now use tripadvisor/booking.com to do it ourselves.

Our vacation time is precious and we plan what we want to see in each city carefully--then select a place to stay that puts us in proximity to as much of it as possible and to a metro stop so that we can get to the rest. Tripadvisor and booking.com make it easy to preselect hotels and we use them. I don't want to waste vacation time looking at hotels when I can do it pre-trip.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 17
Google Maps to see what a place/address is like. Since this is my first trip to Europe, I want to get a feel ahead of time. Checked out hotel areas this way.

Don't have time to read all I would like.
trvl_ing is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
A really goo map (usuallu Michelin), the Michelin green guide to wherever, several other guide books (yes paper, I write notes all over them). After we use that to build a framework do a lot of online research on hotels and sights (tripadvisor, fodors, and hotel sights as well as discount sights).
nytraveler is offline  

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