Web Tools and Web Sites I Use for Planning Trips

February 20, 2013

Web Tools and Web Sites I Use for Planning Trips

With the dawning of the internet, planning trips are made easier for a number of people who are tech savvy and are very adapt at searching through the internet. But for those who are not very patient or knowledgeable at sifting through the wealth of information provided in the internet, they may get lost and find it harder to plan their trips. To help people plan their trips on their own, I'm sharing with you the web tools and web sites I use. My blog focuses on travel with kids, but this is equally useful for planning any trip, with or without kids.

On Finding flights:

To find International Flights, I use the following:


I like expedia.com because it's so user friendly. You can filter flights and see the cheapest ones. You can compare the time of arrival and departure and the length of travel with the rate. So you can make choices whether having a longer travel time or inconvenient departure and arrival is worth choosing a particular fare. You see all the possible airlines flying the route. 

I like expedia.com because it accepts international credit cards. After browsing expedia, I normally go direct to the airline website to book the flight because it will be easier to talk to the airline personnel directly when a problem with the flight occurs. But some airlines do not accept international credit cards. Some accept only US issued credit cards. So when this happened, I booked through expedia. With expedia, all flight information is centralized, from seats chosen to what miles program to credit the miles to be flown. I never had a problem with expedia when booking international flights.

The limitation of expedia is that it does not show budget airlines flying the route. In which case I go to:

Cheap Flights from Philippines with Skyscanner


I use skyscanner to inform myself which budget airline is flying the route so i can book directly with the airline website. Unlike expedia, skycanner shows budget airlines flying the route.

Local Philippine Flights:

Cheap Flights from Philippines with Skyscanner


I discovered that skyscanner also shows domestic flights. So I use these flights to find out which airlines are flying the domestic route I'm taking. And then I go directly to the airline website to book. Sometimes, Skyscanner forwards you directly to the airline website so you can book direct with the airline.

I "like" the local airline facebook website so I'm informed about the latest sale or the new routes they open.

On Maps:

Google Maps
Google Maps is very good at showing directions from point to point; what public transportation you can use, how to get there using a car, how to walk to your destination. It shows the distance and estimated amount of time it takes for you to arrive at your destination. The landmarks and buildings are also shown. 

I've tried google maps using my android app in the US and in Singapore and found it very reliable.

In the Philippines, it's fairly accurate in Metro Manila, but shows general directions only in the provinces. For Philippine provincial trips, I usually use:

I find that wikimapia is more useful in the provinces than google maps. The landmarks indicated are more accurate and more detailed.

On Accommodations:


Tripadvisor forum

The discussion in the tripadvisor forum helps me to shortlist the accommodations my family will prefer based on the recommendations by the forum participants.

Tripadvisor reviews and traveler photos
Tripadvisor hotel reviews informs me of the latest condition of the hotel I'm looking at. They also give me tips on what room to request. 

As I've said before, I prefer traveler photos than hotel photos to show me the rooms and the hotel facilities because they are more accurate than hotel photos.

I go to expedia to find out the rates for the particular period I'm interested in booking because expedia shows the calendar and the rates per day based on the calendar. Expedia also filters the hotel by location. Most important of all for me, Expedia shows the maximum capacity of the room. It filters out the rooms that cannot accommodate 6 people like us.

Direct to the Hotel website
If I cannot book the hotel directly using my Philippine issued credit card, I book through expedia.

The advantage of booking direct at the hotel website is that most hotels do not require a downpayment. They accept a credit card guarantee and cancellation of booking without charge even 24-48 hours before your intended date arrival. Also, since we're usually six (6) in a group when travelling, I can get direct reassurance that we will all fit in one room and have exactly the room that we want. Online travel booking agents usually have by default rooms for 2 and they can only give reassurance based on hotel photos given them.

For information on Philippine accommodations, especially provincial accommodations, I look for advice from this forum. The disadvantage of this forum is that most people write in Tagalog so only Filipinos can understand and use this forum.

On Weather,  Temperature, Time:


I use Accuweather to determine the temperature and weather of the place we're visiting. I especially like the real feel feature. For temperature and weather, what it really feels like is the more useful information for us laymen and trave


Time and date.com 

I use timeanddate.com because it has the most comprehensive information on time. They have time zone calculations, sunrise and sunset times for any month you wish to search, dst information, weather during a particular time period.

I like to be informed about the weather in the place we visit so I can plan when to go and what clothes to bring. Sunrise and sunset times are important to me so I'd know how much daylight we have during the day so we can plan if the time to arrive at the hotel is still too early or late. For instance, if sunset is at 8:00 PM then taking the bus to the hotel at 7:00 PM is still early because there's still sunlight.

On Safety:

US Travel Advisory on International Travel
I use Travel.State.Gov, which is where you can find the travel advisory on all countries issued by the United States to its citizens. It is the most comprehensive and current information about the public order situation in a country. This site informs you about the current scams and crimes and what to avoid so you can stay safe.

On Must See Places:

If I don't have a lot of time to research on the place, I go to Frommers.com. They hav a comprehensive overview on destinations. I like that they have articles like 'Best Hotel Bets", "Best Dining Bets", "Best Free Things to Do", " Best Family Experiences", and so many more.

Viator | Travel with an insider

If you don't have time to book the tours individually, you can check out viator.com. In one website, you can see all tours that are being offered in your destination so you get an overview at once of what you can see. It's a very good website to book the tours. They are very reliable and gives great customer service.