The Ultimate Online Tools for Trip-Planning

by AOL Travel Staff Subscribe to AOL Travel Staff's posts Posted Jul 11th 2009 03:33 PM

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Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

There's no lack of travel sites out there claiming that they have tamed the task of trip-planning, but how can you know which ones really deliver? We spent our time sorting through travel sites so you wouldn't have to and surfaced some of the best of the best from around the web.

Each of the sites on the following pages has a special feature that takes the trouble out of trip planning. Whether you're looking to land the perfect hotel room, lower your airfare, find the perfect destination for your budget, or even hire the best travel agent, these are the sites you need to know about.

See all of today's top deals.

Read about the world's best budget hotels.

Find fabulous hotel deals in:
California
The Caribbean
Hawaii
Florida

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Not all hotel rooms are created equal and who has the time to scour the web looking for the perfect property? Fortunately, for those of us who don't have hours to dedicate to trip-planning, there's Tripkick.com, a website that helps you pick the best hotel according to your preferences. All you have to do is answer a few quick questions and site's search engine serves up the ideal room depending on what matters most to you, whether it's a room with a view, extra space, or undisturbed silence. One thing is certain-Tripkick ensures you won't be sleeping next to a noisy elevator or in a tiny room with a poor view. You can even zero in on details such as your desired bathroom amenities (Aveda, anyone?). The database has about 450 hotels in 21 major US destinations, with more launching every month.

Search today's top hotel deals.

See tricks for maximizing a Disney Vacation.

Click for great airfare deals:

U.S. + Canada
Europe

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Did you know that you can claim a travel credit if the price of your flight drops after you've booked it through an airline website directly? Yes, you can. Most travelers aren't aware that many US airlines offer this "guaranteed airfare." But who wants to bother monitoring the price of a flight you've already booked? That's where Yapta.com comes in. It tracks the price of your booked flight and notifies you when you become eligible for a refund or travel credit from the airline. All you need to do is go to their site, identify your airline, type in your confirmation code, your first and last name and departure city. Yapta will send you an email alert if you're eligible for a refund and instructions on how to get it. The next thing you know, you've saved some moolah that you can squander on your holiday.

See today's top flight deals.

Find insider advice on beating airline fees.

Check out these air and hotel packages:

Caribbean
Hawaii
Las Vegas
New York

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Seeking a fun getaway that's no more than a 2-hour drive from home? Find it on Tripbase.com. The site's nifty "drive" feature allows you to search for destinations near you based on the amount of time you're willing to spend in a car (between 1-18 hours). Narrow your search down even more by specifying what you're looking for in a vacation by ranking the following categories on a sliding scale: nightlife, dining, shopping, nature, and attractions. You're then given several options to choose from, along with helpful trip-planning info such as weather and estimated cost per person (for meals, lodging and gas) based on the price range you've chosen (budget, mid-range or luxury).

Find cheap car rentals.

See America's top 10 best beaches..

Check out these hot deals on:
Adults-Only Getaways
Beach Vacations
Spa Retreats
Theme Parks

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Flying has become such a chore that we should at least attempt to make the experience more pleasant. The Trip Quality function of InsideTrip.com allows you to search flights according to what's important to you when airborne. You customize the flight by checking (or unchecking) the Trip Quality Dashboard. Choices include the usual factors such as number of stops, travel duration and connect time. But the highlight of the tool is a set of less common features that can make or break a trip-leg room, security wait time, on-time stats, aircraft age and lost bags rank. Once you've decided which of these factors is most important to you, the tool recalculates the overall trip quality according to your personal preferences and helps you find just the right flight.

Find today's top cruise deals.

See America's top 10 undiscovered national parks.

Check out these hot hotel deals:
Chicago
Washington D.C.
Orlando

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

After you've planned your entire trip and made all of your reservations, you want to compile it all into one neat well-organized document. The Itinerator tool of TripIt.com makes that easy-you just email your travel plans (flight, hotel, restaurants, car rental) to plans@tripit.com and the site streamlines them in a master travel itinerary that you can easily access and share. Add the site's TripClipper button to your browser to bring all of your travel research to one place-a virtual manila folder of sorts that can be easily accessed, saved, and shared with friends.

See today's top beach vacation deals.

Read about the best all-inclusive hotels.

Check out these hot deals on:
Bahamas Vacations
Disney
Golf

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Traveling to a new destination without a clue on how much you'll be spending on lodging, food and having fun? The Budget Planner tool of TripSketch.com makes budgeting easy. You just select your desired destination; dates of travel; number of people traveling; lodging and dining scale (budget, moderate or expensive); and the preferred mode of transport (public or private). The number that comes up is a ballpark figure of your average daily expenses. Using the tool, you can compare the real cost of various cities and find what's most suitable for your pocketbook. TripSketch currently covers 119 major destinations worldwide and is expanding rapidly.

Check out today's top tour package deals.

Have you heard about these underrated natural wonders?

Check out these hot air + hotel deals:
Central + South America
Hawaii
Europe

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Ever sat down for a transatlantic flight only to find-to your sleepy dismay-that your seat doesn't recline? SeatGuru.com makes sure that won't happen to you. It features more than 550 airplane seat maps from more than 80 different airlines. You can search by airline to pinpoint the perfect seat for you. The site features in-depth comments about recline and legroom; color-coding to help identify superior and substandard seats; location of the power ports; and the distance to the lavatory. Look out for the In-Flight Amenity box on every plane page, with icons representing services that are available on the aircraft in question-such as food, internet, video, and AC power.

See today's top flight deals.

Speed through the airport with these tips and tricks.


Check out these air and hotel packages:
Caribbean
Hawaii
Las Vegas
New York

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

You've started planning a complex trip but gave up when a bunch of hurdles came your way. Don't give up! Find the right travel agent to do the job for you! Turn to Zicasso, a personalized online travel service that provides handcrafted itinerary bids from a global network of quality travel companies. All you have to do is fill out a form that specifies your travel needs and up to three business days later, up to three travel companies will send you manually prepared trip plans and prices. You can compare and refine the itineraries, decide which one you like best, and then pay the travel company directly. There's no more searching on hundreds of travel websites, since Zicasso does the homework for you.

Search today's top hotel deals.

Read about the most relaxing cruise ships.


Click for great airfare deals:

U.S. + Canada
Europe

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Nothing is more disappointing than getting stuck in traffic en route to a well-deserved vacation. Avoid untimely delays with Traffic.com, a site that lets you take control of your road trip with real-time traffic data. You can tune into the pulse of the roads all around the United States by signing up for an alert (by email, phone call or text message). So if the roads are clogged as you're kicking off your holiday, you'll know to either take an alternate route (Traffic.com will also provide alternate suggestions) or stay home for a couple of extra hours instead of sitting in a jam. The function takes into account speed limits, delays, construction, and accidents. It also calculates the "Jam Factor" (measured on a scale of 0-10, with 10 representing the worst traffic conditions).

Check out these cruise deals.

Don't miss our hot spa deals.

Find out which water parks are the best in the nation.

Best Online Resources for Trip-Planning

Filed Under: Tips & Tricks

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