Unless you are hopelessly workaholic, you are one of those people who cherish a nice, long vacation in their favorite destinations. While it's a nice feeling to have, imagining yourself lying lazily on a beach beside sunshade, sometimes vacation planning could turn out to be really cumbersome and if not done properly, could spoil your trip.
The following list of sites would help you overcome the pre-vacation planning syndromes. From trip itinerary planner to a travel community, flight delay alerts to cheap apartment hunting, and from locating ATMs worldwide to a guide on sleeping in airports, we've got you all covered.
1. Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is a great resource for travelers and has a huge database of information about travel destinations around the world. Not only does it offer broad details about the location, weather and sight-seeing in the place, it goes deeper and tells you which are the best restaurants, hotels and travel services.
Apart from general travel information, Lonely Planet offers travel guides and a vibrant community of travelers who are there to answer any question you have.
AirBnB is an excellent site if you are looking to ditch costly hotels and instead go for a spacious apartment at much lower rates. On this site, people who've got accommodation post their room details like prices, availability, location and pictures of the apartment.
There are a lot of search options and you can filter the results based on space, price, amenities and more. Read the reviews from other travelers and if you like the room, book it online.
3. Travel Etiquette
Different countries have different cultures and traditions and, as a traveler if you are aware of them before starting on your trip then it could make things a lot easier for you.Travel Etiquette is an innovative site which can explain the etiquettes you need to have as a tourist in a different country.
The site features advice and tips on what you should do and what you shouldn't for over 54 different locations worldwide. Certainly a must-check resource if you're traveling abroad.
Kayak is a popular travel comparison engine which helps you get the best deals on flights, hotels, cruises, accommodations, car-rentals and more. It searches a huge number of travel sites around the world and filters the results to get you the most relevant stuff. Once you find the deal you are looking for, you are directed to the specific site to book your trip.
5. Google City Tours
Google City Tours is a nifty service which was recently launched by Google under their Labs projects. It is a cool tool which can help you plan intra-city multi-day trips in the easiest manner possible. Just give it your hotel location and it plans a 3 day tour around the city for you.
Since this is a new tool, it is far from perfect. But nevertheless, it is quite helpful when you are not sure what sights to see first and what are the shortest routes between them.
If you are a foodie who wouldn't compromise on meals even on flights then Airlinemeals is there for you. In fact it's a great service for anyone who is curious to know the meal options he would get when he is using a particular airline.
The site contains user-generated information and pictures of meals on hundreds of airlines from all around the world.
7. Don't Forget Your Toothbrush
Don't Forget Your Toothbrush is a simple yet very useful website which allows you to quickly create a printable holiday checklist which you can use to make sure you don't leave behind any of the things you need to take with you on the trip.
You can also set reminders about the items you need to include. Another cool feature - you don't need to type an item manually. You can choose it from a list and add it quickly.
Wikitravel, as the name suggests is a like a Wikipedia for travelers. It offers in-depth information about a location complete with photos, articles and reviews by different people who have visited the place. It's a good site to get an un-biased opinion about your travel destination.
9. ATM Locator
Need to know which is the nearest place to find cash when trapped in a foreign land ? Visa's ATM Locator is your answer. Using this site you can locate the nearest ATM machine anywhere in the world in a snap.
The great thing about this service is you can access it quickly on your cellphone too. Here's the link.
You wouldn't want a situation where you enthusiastically land on a place for vacation just to find that it's raining heavily, would you. Well, then make sure you check Weather.com to get details about the weather forecast of that place for the days when you'd be there.
It can show forecasts upto 10 days and also provide you juicy details about the climate of the place, which make it a must visit site before you travel.
NextStop is another great site to get feedback about a particular place and find the best restaurants, hotels and other hot-spots in the city. The recommendations are by users who have visited the place and you also get see pictures and location of the place on Google maps.
One of the most common fears of travelers is being charged exorbitant fares by the taxi drivers. It is not an uncommon practice since as a traveler you won't know the current rates. But with WorldTaximeter, you need not worry. It calculates the taxi fares for your trip in some of the top destinations of the world. It also shows you the popular taxi trips around the city.
Hotwire lets you find discount prices on cars, flights, hotels, cruises and more. You can also build packages which combine the best deals on flight, hotel and car. A nice feature of this site is the trip watcher which can alert when the prices drop on the trips you want.
TravelGuidesFree is a very useful website if you are planning a trip across US or Canada. It offers free detailed travel guides and brochures which could be received via mail as a hardcopy or downloaded to the computer. The delivery to your postal address is free as well.
SeatGuru provides you detailed information about the seats in an airline and gives you an idea about their comfort index. It helps you differentiate between good and better seats depending on the airline you are using and the flight number.
Apart from informing you about the seats, it also lets you know about other perks offered by the airline to its passengers.
With Traveas, you can track the status of your flight, airport delays and get other real time airport and flight information right on your cellphone. Enter the starting and the destination airports, check the flight status, click track, enter whether you are a traveler, dropper or picker and then input your cellphone number to receive real time information via SMS.
Tripntale is like an online travel diary where a traveler can write about his trip, the places he has explored and share photos and videos. It is also a web based community of travelers where users can get in touch with each other and have a conversation. Hence a great site to contact someone who has already been to the place you intend to travel to.
Flightwait is another real time airport and flight delay analysis tool which pulls in its data from the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). The nice thing about this site is that it lets you easily visualize the delay using color coded lines on Google Maps. Simple, quick and easy.
19. Sleeping in Airports
Sleeping in Airports is a site which, as the name suggests, tells you everything about sleeping in airports across the world. Its not uncommon for travelers to stay at an airport for a night, or sometimes even more depending on flight timings. Plus budget travelers could actually use airports as a local lodging. For all such travelers, this site acts as a comprehensive guide with reviews, pictures, tips and more about the best and the worst airports of the world to stay in.
TripIt is a brilliant travel itinerary builder and planner which helps you automatically generate your travel itinerary. You just need to forward all the booking confirmation emails you get (airline, hotels etc) to email@example.com and it does the rest. It offers many other cool features like itinerary monitoring, mobile alerts, alternate flights availability, point tracker and an inner circle of users. Certainly a great vacation planning tool.
ASApp is a nice app for iPhone users to check information about airports and flights across 420 different airports in the U.S. Though it is made for the iPhone, it could be used from any mobile phone which has internet access. It can show traffic delays, maps, security wait times and more.
AirDB acts as an ultimate guide to airports across the world. The difference between this site and other similar sites is that it boasts of the largest collection of airports (more than 2000 of them). You can browse country-wise or by airlines and see the various airports in a country/city, locate them on map, find their phone numbers and visit their websites.
HotelDiscovery lets you instantly check hotel room availability across a huge number of travel destinations worldwide. You can search by location, date of check-in and type of rooms needed. Results can be arranged according to price and once you come across a suitable offer, you can book it
Remember the last trip when you forgot your cellphone charger and the camera batteries ? Well, avoid it on the next trip by using PackWhiz. It's an online packing list generator with a nice and simple interface that helps you create a checklist of items you need to take with you on your trip. It also integrates with your Google account, making it easier for you to log in.
25. Google Maps
Last, but by no means the least is probably the most common but undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools for travelers - Google Maps. There is nothing much to talk about this tool; you know everything about it already, right? You can check travel paths, find the routes between locations, zoom in and out using different views and much more. It's a must have tool for everyone who intends to head out even on a small trip around the city.