Photo by Flickr user Stuck in Customs
Summer holidays are upon us – it’s time for vacation! Whether you’re into backpacking alone or traveling with the whole family, there are plenty of options out there to make this year’s trip special. Using this online guide, you can plan it all out in one sitting – no need to shop around at different travel agencies or tour information centers. Many of these online options also save you money, and help with environment by cutting down on the paperwork and extra energy. Just fire up your web browser and you’re good to go!
STEP 1: DECIDE WHERE TO GO
Your vacation destination is of crucial importance to getting what you want out of your time off – be it relaxation, exploration, adventure, or a mixture of all three.
OUR PICK: Our favorite site for scouring locations at the moment is Minube. With over a million holiday photos on file, the beautifully-designed site helps you browse destinations and attractions and find the perfect place for you and yours.
ADDED EXTRA: Download Minube’s iPad and iPhone apps for extra info once you’re on the road.
STEP 2: FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
While there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there are some reasonable flight deals out there. Start planning as early as possible and shop around to get the best prices.
OUR PICK: Kayak is our pick for this category. The site enables users to compare hundreds of flights at once, and the display is easy to use and to understand. Once you find a flight, the site will send you to the booking page to complete your purchase.
ADDED EXTRA: It’s a good idea to cross check Kayak’s deals since prices change so often – have a look at Google Flights simultaneously. The handy tool features Google’s signature simplicity and autocomplete suggestions, along with a map of your origin and destination areas with prices at each location.
STEP 3: CHOOSE YOUR ACCOMMODATION
After your destination, where to stay is the most important choice that you’ll make when planning your holiday. Think about who you’re traveling with, how much time you plan to spend indoors, and what facilities you’ll need to make your time away comfortable and enjoyable.
OUR PICKS: If you’re looking for a hotel, our recommendation is Gogobot, a simple and appealing site which integrates accommodation information with traveler reviews. For that local feel, Airbnb is the way to go, to sublet a room or an apartment and even get to know someone new at your destination.
ADDED EXTRA: For the more adventurous, budget travelers, you can’t go past Couchsurfing, the site that connects a global community of travelers together. Or as the iconic site likes to call it – getting to know “friends you haven’t met yet.”
STEP 4: PLAN YOUR ACTIVITIES
While laying by the pool for a week straight often sounds like a good idea, somewhere around Day Three it tends to get a bit repetitive. Research local attractions so you have some ideas of what to do the day you decide to break the holiday routine.
OUR PICK: Check out community marketplace Vayable, for guided tours and experiences across the world for reasonable prices. From shopping to food, history to photography, music to art, there really is a tour for everyone on this site.
ADDED EXTRA: Fit in some volunteering while you’re away
STEP 5: SHARE YOUR WHEELS
The latest trend in collaborative consumption is car sharing, and what better time to try it out then when you won’t be using your wheels in any case? The services tend to be location-specific so search online to find one that’s right for you and your vehicle.
OUR PICK: Check out FlightCar, an easy new service that lets you drop off your vehicle at the airport and rent it out to fellow travelers. The service is now active in Boston and San Francisco.
ADDED EXTRA: Amazing benefits! FlightCar offers insurance up to $1 million, full screening of potential renters, a free car wash, and free parking even if your car isn’t rented out.