We just got back from our week-long vacation in California. We spent 3 days in San Francisco taking in the city and the Napa Valley and another 3 days in the Yosemite National Park.
I do quite a bit of research for finding travel deals through various websites and plan our vacation. For the most part, they turn out to be fun ones.
Here are a few websites I use regularly for planning our travel
- ITA’s Matrix – No frill’s flight price comparison tool that powers a lot of the travel sites like Kayak, Orbitz, CheapTickets. It should be your first stop to get a real idea on prices real fast.
- Travelzoo.com – One of the best places to find incredible deals on airfares, hotels, rental cars, cruises, entertainment shows, etc. Subscribe to their Top 20 email and I really find some good deals there.
- Kayak.com – Best price comparison tool for airfare, car rentals and hotels. Period. You could set up an email alert to a flight date you are interested in and get notified of price changes. I also like it for being able to search with flexible dates to find the cheapest travel dates. For eg. I found flying out of Detroit to San Francisco on Wednesday morning was the cheapest.
- Fodors.com – Best place to get a quick overview of attractions and places to visit in a new destination. Also, the forums have some decent trip reports from people who have visited the place. But, look at Trip Advisor for more on this.
- TripAdvisor.com – Many travelers swears by this site and I like it too for a couple of reasons. Great trip reports – trip reports are detailed explanation from travelers and their experiences. Plus, there are also user reviews on hotels, attractions, tours, etc. I learnt a great deal about San Francisco & Yosemite and what to do by reading the forums here. Just search for something like ‘Yosemite trip report’. I plan on writing mine soon.
- VRBO.com – A few years back i stumbled on this site and have been using it with great success for many vacations with our friends. VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals by Owners. The site feels a bit dated but you could find great prices on vacation rentals sometimes much cheaper (when shared) if you are traveling as a group with friends. Plus, you have all the amenities like home without the hotel-feel.
Groupon.com – A site I just came across before this trip. Pretty interesting that you can find some cool deals for restaurants, tours, shows, etc in the city you are traveling to. But, their emails can get annoying after your visit so may want to unsubscribe when your trip is over.
Planning out your vacation can save you money as well as stress in trying to find out things to do when you are there. Even though we had 2 iPhones with us, it was useless when we were in the Yosemite. Planning ahead with printed maps and attractions helped us a lot.
What other sites do you use to plan your vacation?