Part I of the Travel Savings Series.
In 2009, 90 million Americans planned their travel online. Over 46 million of them were planning a vacation.
Why plan online?
- Search engines
- Travel agency websites
- Travel websites
- Discount travel packages
- Information on delays, quarantine and restrictions
Save time and money by searching for your ideal vacation before talking to your travel agent. Or, save more time and money by booking your own vacation.
Choose Your Destination
Where do you want to go? This has to be the first question. Before making that choice, visit www.CDC.gov/travel/destinat.htm to ensure no medical restrictions or warnings prohibit travel. Some locations are not advisable due to outbreaks of infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keeps a current list of all countries the United States warns against for health concerns.
If your heart’s desire is to visit Spain, visit sites with information on Spain. One of the first places to find information is the national governmental website. Type your destination country and “government website” into your search engine. Learning the terrain, political climate, weather and current events will help you choose a restful destination. This keeps you from vacationing in the middle of an election stop city or the recent wake of a tornado.
Next, search your country’s tourism. Many national tourism websites contain links to city tourism websites. Here you can discover the locals’ best kept secrets. Theaters, community events and festivals are posted so you can plan your activities.
If you don’t have your heart set on a destination, do you have it set on an activity? Your choice of what to do on your vacation may dictate the destination. You simply cannot snow ski on Maui. But if surfing, hiking or kayaking is your bag, searching your hobby and “destinations” will get you reviews on the best locations.
Destination reviews and guides.
Websites with reviews and guides are helpful in making your final destination choice. Many sites offer reviews of popular or novel destinations. Professional review sites, like ConsumerReports.org and Hotels.com, have reviews of destinations, hotels and resorts written by travel industry professionals. While generally unbiased, these reviews may miss some details important to you.
Compare the reviews on a professional site to a social media site’s reviews for a more rounded picture. Professional sites are not trying to deceive you, but when they review, many resorts will be on their best behavior. Boo.com, Trip Advisor and Virtual Tourist provide reviews from real travelers which reveal the everyday experiences travelers encounter, warts and all. Overall travel review sites, like the New York Times travel site, give reviews of all types of travel from cruises to micro-vacations, trips which last less than 4 days.
Now you know where you are going, tomorrow we will plan how you get there.