Updated: Jul 12, 2018
People always ask me how I plan my vacations or how I find the best deal. Unfortunately, I don't have one website that I use that gives me everything I need for a vacation. I like to research using multiple sites so that I know I am getting the best deal possible. The following sites / applications are just some of the items I use. I have tried to compile them in the order I will use them.
If you don't follow my Pinterest board, you are missing out! I have my boards broken down by region of the world. Pinterest recently made it so you can create a more general board and within that board you can add sections to pin more specifically. For example, I have a general board called "Asia" and within that board, I have all the countries that fall within Asia. This makes it much easier to find my boards based on where you want to go!
This is a good place to start when deciding where you want to visit. Compile a list of places so that you can start figuring out flights, lodging and how you are going to see these places (car, tour group, train, etc.)
Next, I will start plugging the cities I want to see into Google maps and adjust locations to ultimately create a route that makes sense. A great feature of Google Maps if you are signed into your Gmail account is to be able to "star" places that you find in Pinterest so you can remember them later on.
To "star" a place in Google Maps:
Click on the place you want to go, on the left click hand side of maps, click" save" and then select "starred places." By doing this, when you get into the more detailed portion of planning, you will be able to create walking / transportation routes!
I tend to research flights on several different sites and applications until I find the best deal or put one together myself.
Travel Tip: Another way to save money is being flexible with your trip route and where you will fly into. For example, our ultimate destination was to Edinburgh, however, we saved about $400 by flying to Glasgow and taking a 45 minute train ride to Edinburgh for only $30.
Hopper is great because you can do a flight search and it will tell you if you should book or wait with that price. Ultimately it's just a prediction but I enjoy using it. You can also save your searches and get notifications when they think it's the best time to book.
When you set up your Hopper account, you can input what you feel are dirt cheap prices and what are expensive airline prices. When you go to search, it will show you a month by month calendar view with colored boxes signifying flight prices based on what you feel is a cheap or expensive flight.
I love Skyscanner if you aren't tied to certain dates this is a great way to look at an overview of dates and the cost of flights for each day. This is typically how I will choose my departure and return dates.
I like to use Expedia as my baseline cost for a lot of tropical getaways. It's a good way for me to see their cost on a hotel and flight. I then will try and beat it by putting together my own trip. I also trust the Expedia reviews from people, so I use this a lot to pick hotels.
Google flights is another one like Hopper. It is a prediction site for your destinations.
...and the best deal of all if you have super flexible dates and are willing to just hunt for something is to use Travel Pirates! They post error fares, super discount travel deals, etc. Unfortunately, my trips are more planned then that, but I have seen a bunch of people score great deals!