I recently read that the average traveler visits a whopping 38 different travel websites before booking a vacation. I should be shocked, but I actually think I visit somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-75 websites in the process of booking an airline ticket, scouting out housing and making restaurant reservations for a trip. I absolutely love researching travel because I can daydream about all of the different storylines my life might take on a trip. According to research, planning the trip is almost more fun than taking it.
Since I spend so much time on travel websites I thought I’d share some of my favorite ones at this moment. And perhaps you can suggest some of your favorite sites?
Skyscanner.com. I have long been a fan of Kayak, but Skyscanner is more applicable to my travel style these days: I have a free weekend, I have $100 to spend, where can I go? With Skyscanner you can search flight prices to “Everywhere” over the course of an entire month from your home airport and it gives you a list of possibilities. If you have a specific destination, stick to Kayak. If you’re curious how much it would cost to fly to anywhere in Europe sometime in August, use Skyscanner.
The New York Times’ “36 Hours In…” OK, so you’ve heard of The New York Times. The secret is out. I know. But I’m telling you I always find fantastic restaurant recommendations in these travel articles. The Times’ tends to use writers who live in the city they are writing about, so I like to Google the writer’s name and see if he/she has a blog with even more recommendations. Win-win.
Hotels.com vs Airbnb.com. I’ve stayed in some incredible apartments at great prices through Airbnb. I’ve also stayed in some apartments that were not so great. Sometimes we opt for a hotel if we need a late or early check-in and Hotels.com’s rewards system is addicting (10 nights in a hotels = one free night in a hotel). Even better? Hotels.com offers apartments if you want that Airbnb feeling. I’ve stayed in apartments that were advertised on both Airbnb and Hotels.com, but booked it through Hotels.com for the points.
Wallpaper City Guides. Although the best thing about owning these colorful, pocket-sized guidebooks are how beautiful they look lined up on your bookshelf, you can download them electronically via Wallpaper’s app. The recommendations are always design-savvy, well-written and off the beaten path. The app has an easy-to-use interactive map, too.
Melting Butter. Cool restaurants. Hipster cafes. Pop-up boutiques. Avant-garde museums. This website makes you want to be more fashionable than you ever were once you arrive in Paris or London or wherever you are going. Maybe you’ll start drinking martinis or wearing leather pants. Anything could happen at a Melting Butter-approved locale.
12hrs. If you are interested in visiting a place but you don’t want to get bogged down in a lot of text, the photo essays on 12hrs are really fun to scroll through. Sometimes when I find a flight on Skyscanner to a city I don’t know well I’ll check out 12hrs’ photos to get a quick sense of whether I’d like to visit the city or not. I also love their Instagram feed.
Are there any travel sites, magazines or mobile apps you swear by? I’d love to know…