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Katie_H Mar 12th, 2008 02:06 PM

Calling Super Planners: Indispensable Sites?
((Y)) In this week's newsletter, we highlight 27 web sites that we think are particularly helpful when it comes to general trip planning:

Several editors pitched in on the recommendations---some of which are well known here ( for instance). There were a few I wasn't aware of, including, where you can apparently book shows, tours, and day trips around the world.

I did note that one of the editors mentioned the OrbitzTLC Traveler Update.
I've never used this myself but I'm curious if anyone here has.

((I)) Does anyone have any favorite go-to site that they strongly recommend? Anything vaguely obscure or perhaps under many travelers' radar? What would you add to this list?

soccr Mar 12th, 2008 03:20 PM

For checking flights and airports, I like (
because you can sometimes get more information about a specific airport than you'd get from your airline's website. You can pair airports and airlines to find out what's happening or look at one airport with various destinations/origins to figure out about a flight between two cities when you don't know the specific airline, etc. It offers a number of ways to check on things.

A little more arcane is, which allows you to track a specific flight. Aside from looking back over a few days to see what route a flight took and how often it was on time, it's useful if you want to know where the flight originated, or if you know where the equipment for your flight is coming from and you want to see where it is.

Essential for me beginning a couple of days before flight time is the Weather Channel's "Aviation Weather" set of maps -- showing forecasts for weather, turbulence, jet stream, winds at various altitudes, etc. Unfortunately, it's not easy to find via their home page -- no matter what sequence of links you click, you tend to get too limited info. Sequence that works is map type: "outdoors activity" and then under that: "aviation" and THEN click on the map to get full-screen image.

Here's the direct link: /usairportoverview_large.html (but
eliminate the space before "/usairportoverview" -- I inserted the space to avoid using tinyurl but still provide the complete html.)

lvk Mar 12th, 2008 03:36 PM

Before choosing a seat on an airline,

I always what specials are running on

I now use google earth when looking at the location of a hotel, ie: near the railroad tracks, busy road, etc.

I downloaded which tracks the cost of your flights, even after you have purchased them. If the fare goes down, you can call the airline and get a voucher for the difference. It worked for me on a flight last fall to Toronto, saving $181 per person (x3).

williamscb13 Mar 12th, 2008 03:50 PM

I love the flexibility of
I love being able to play with time of arrival or departure, i love playing with different airlines and airports. i love being able to find the shortest duration.
i find it indispensable in figuring out when and what airlines to travel.

Gardyloo Mar 12th, 2008 03:51 PM

When ya gotta go, ya gotta know where ya gotta go...

luvtravl Mar 12th, 2008 04:34 PM

I frequently use for reviews and info on lodging.

frogoutofwater Mar 12th, 2008 05:18 PM is good both for the obvious subject matter (Can and where can you sleep in various airports safely, comfortably and with minimal disruption?) but also more generally on the subject of airport conditions (organization/chaos, cleanliness, corruptness).

I check the airline frequent flier threads on in the last few days before I travel. They can be the fastest source of information about major airport disruptions for the key airports associated with particular airlines (e.g. British Airways for Heathrow an Gatwick, Air Canada for Canadian airports, etc.) is a good source of information about what to wear where in the world.

For travel to areas where safety risks are higher than what you're used to, I check the "information for travelers" sections on the foreign affairs websites for several different countries. I find that a single country's view of safety risks in a given country doesn't always provide a complete picture, so I usually check the travel warnings / country profiles published by at least two of Canada (I'm Canadian), the UK, Australia and the US.

phieaglefan Mar 12th, 2008 05:41 PM

I think that the Weather Underground's Trip Planner feature is unbeatable:

Plug in your destination and the date range for your trip and you'll get the weather specifics you want. And not just highs and lows, but chance of rain, chance of a freeze, chance of a cloudy day, and more. I use this site alot!

Seamus Mar 12th, 2008 08:51 PM

Katie - not sure if you mean to include air fare search sites, but the fist place I look is the ita site at has already been mentioned - another place on my links bar.

For currency conversion:

On time records and airport info:

Local events and activities:

And, of course, for first hand recommendations from experienced travelers,

Katie_H Mar 13th, 2008 06:46 AM

There's some great ones--thanks for making your suggestions.

I'm a huge kayak fan too; I use it constantly.

lvk---thanks for the reminder about yapta. You must have been pleased when it saved you that money---do all the airlines make up for the price difference with a voucher?

If you can never get enough of these site-related threads, than you might want to see this long running thread that was just topped the other day:;tid=34641450

EmilyC Mar 13th, 2008 07:25 AM

Chowhound is one of my most used for up to the minute dining recs!

ibeginz Mar 13th, 2008 07:33 AM

I've been planning a trip to NYC for the past 2 weeks and gocitykids has helped in such a major way. They list all sorts of things from attractions, parks, to childcare services! Not only giving you details of the activity/service, but also adding tips, reviews, and how to obtain discounts (if any).

If you're planning a trip with kids, I highly recommend giving this website a try...

Dukey Mar 13th, 2008 07:42 AM for budget airline flights, especially in Europe for a comprehensive view of all airlines on a route (and the month-long view) is great for price variations is another airline site

beach_dweller Mar 13th, 2008 07:55 AM

this is a little obvious, but for the sake of completeness, Mapquest is a great tool for point to point driving directions.

azzure Mar 13th, 2008 08:33 AM

I like for traveling with pets. Another old standby for me (my pre-internet travel research tool) are the travel publications (guidebooks and accomodation guides) published by AAA. These are still useful to have with you on a road trip.

lvk Mar 13th, 2008 10:50 AM


Fortunately, my flight was on UAL, and they don't charge a fee for claiming a refund. American and others charge up to $100 per ticket. Here's a list of the different airlines' policies:

lvk Mar 13th, 2008 10:53 AM

oops, somehow a letter got truncated from that link:

cruisin_tigger Mar 13th, 2008 11:09 AM

Haven't had a chance to use this yet, but seems very handy:

(And twice now mapquest has sent me in the wrong direction, so I use

gail Mar 13th, 2008 11:30 AM

I95 for travel on east coast - lists what is available at each exit on the entire 1500 mile route.

thepeters Mar 13th, 2008 11:54 AM

I definitely have a list of sites that I frequent often.
absolutely the best and biggest hotel review site. I can always count on there being at least 1 review for even the most obscure hotel
new site, I can plug in every detail of a trip and have it all in one place. Make notes, share it with friends, etc.
I'm waiting for this little site to take off -- reviews of hotels, restaurants, etc. in cities all in one place.
Another up-and-coming site, I love, love, love the search feature, and the easy booking process (3 steps!). I can also update hotel information for places I've stayed at before.
Weather...great layout, easy to use
they track flight prices, letting me know when they change.

thepeters Mar 13th, 2008 11:55 AM

How could I forget!

Best maps and directions I've ever seen, and the Street View -- I love being able to see where I'm going before I get there.

flygirl Mar 14th, 2008 03:03 AM

No new sites to mention, but these are great!

sdtravels Mar 14th, 2008 12:39 PM

Great information. I have booked marked many. I was not able to get into any page that has a "tinyurl" in it. Are there alternate urls?

sdtravels Mar 14th, 2008 12:48 PM

Does anyone know of a site with a travel planner similar to that on weather underground that covers Europe?

Rhea58 Mar 15th, 2008 02:41 AM for subway & bus
in NYC, Boston, Chicago, SF, NJ &
Washington, DC

nstevey Mar 16th, 2008 12:59 AM

I second Google maps. Within Google maps, you can get directions, see if there is traffic, get satellite and/or map view, street view and find businesses. You can also drag on your route "line" and alter your route. Also, people create their own mashups for their favorite things, e.g. taxi fare, best pizza in NYC mashup. to find better plane ticket prices.

http://www.biddingfortravel to bid for hotels (not a fan of Priceline for plane tickets.)

Not a big fan of tripadvisor as the customer reviews are not accurate.

Fodors is not going to like this, but I like the other travel guides as well - and

shaytravels Mar 17th, 2008 09:32 PM

Ever since my travel agent highly recommended a company with a D- rating w/ BBB, I plan all of my own trips. I use fodors (of course!) trip advisor, and mapquest quite faithfully. For foreign travel I have been using hostel world a lot too. Great site!

starrs Apr 2nd, 2008 08:28 PM

lvk Apr 4th, 2008 12:49 PM

For foreign travel, especially if you are country-hopping - for currency exchange rates.

fun4all4 Apr 4th, 2008 02:10 PM

These are great. I will try to think of more and add later - no time right now. :-)

txgirlinbda Apr 4th, 2008 02:14 PM

Bookmarking this list - what a great compilation!! Thanks!

volcanogirl Apr 4th, 2008 02:41 PM

I always check before booking any hotels.

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