My Favorite Trip Planning Tools

Trip planning all by yourself can be a daunting task to some. And that’s completely understandable! If you’re planning a trip to a location you’ve never visited and are unfamiliar with, it can be quite the challenge.

Today I want to share a few of my favorite trip planning resources with y’all! So let’s jump right in…


Pinterest

I love using Pinterest to find itineraries more than anything. Currently, I’m planning a trip to Japan, so to start my process I went to Pinterest’s search bar and typed “Japan itinerary 11 days”

Most of the pins are independent travel bloggers like myself, so I know each itinerary will be slightly different in attractions and style. From there I just go click and pin crazy. I have a dozen tabs open at once and I just go skim each one to see if the itinerary aligns with the major cities/attractions I want to see during my trip. Most of the time I draw inspiration from multiple bloggers’ itineraries.

For example: Blogger A’s outline of Tokyo days was pretty spot on with the attractions I’d like to see, but the rest of their time was spent at Disney, which I have no interest in seeing. So I look at Blogger B’s outline of their days spent in Osaka and Kyoto. But neither of them spend any time in Hakone, so I find Blogger C’s content for information on that location.

One thing that I just love in general with Pinterest is the ability to pin content from all over the web into one place where you can easily access and organize it. I usually make a pinboard specifically for each trip. And along with itinerary posts, I save cool pictures of places I find that I’m interested in visiting, content about local cultural etiquette, miscellaneous travel information/tips (like “how to save money while traveling in ___”), etc.

Here’s a glimpse at my current planning pinboard for Japan.


Google My Maps

If you’ve read any of my previous itinerary posts from Iceland, my Southwestern Roadtrip, or Banff, you’ve noticed the customized Google maps of locations I visited during these trips. These are created with a nifty tool called Google My Maps. If you have a Google account, you can sign in, and make/save your own!

I use GMM during every step of planning.

Like when everything is in the theoretical stage. Matt and I go “You know what would be cool? A roadtrip around Utah!” So we research the national parks and other various attractions we’d like to visit, and we map them out to figure out how much time we should be allotting for the trip, where we should stay, etc.

Right now, for my Japan trip I just have all the attractions I want to see (plus some restaurants I want to try) saved on the map, but not categorized. Seeing them on my map helps me decide how to break up our days and plan how long we need to be in each city, etc.

Once the itinerary is complete, I’ve gone on my trip, and I’m ready to share my adventures on the blog, I can also embed the map into my posts!

Web visitors can click each location, zoom in, zoom out, and just interact in general with the map.


Facebook Travel Groups & Travel Blogs

I list these together because they tend to hand in hand. When I started travel blogging I joined several groups to share content, “network” and to find other bloggers’ content. I go to these groups frequently to search for blog posts on my upcoming travel locations. These groups are also a great resource if you have questions!

There have been a few times when I was looking for some very particular, “local knowledge” type of advice, and I wasn’t able to find it on Pinterest or by searching on Google. I made a post in the group and got lots of answers/advice and links to blogs to help me out.

These are a great resource for anyone. You don’t have to be a travel blogger for some of those groups.

My favorites include:

Girls vs Globe

Girls LOVE Travel

Female Travel Bloggers

Ultimate Travel Group


Roadtrippers

This website is great to help with planning American roadtrips. Matt and I used it when we were planning our Southwestern roadtrip. To begin, just type in your turnaround/final destination, choose any category you’re interested in (photo opps, scenic areas, parks, points of interest, etc.) and how far from your route you’re willing to deviate, then Roadtrippers will show you the popular spots around your route. It’s especially useful for finding unique, off-the-beaten-path places to visit as you go. It’s also cool because it tells you how long your drive will be and even estimates how much you’ll spend on gas.


TripAdvisor

This is a no-brainer, but I just have to mention it because I love this website. What I find most useful about TripAdvisor is being able to view “things to do” in a certain city in order of most popular. It’s also a great place to see what people say about these attractions in the reviews.

TripAdvisor is also a great place to find restaurants and hotels. I’m a loyal Airbnb user, but for our Japan trip, Matt and I are planning on splurging on a traditional Ryokan type of hotel. I have been using TripAdvisor’s rankings to find a nice location for us to stay for this special splurge.


TripIt

Very similar to Google Trips, this app is a great place to keep all your info in one place. Flight details, booking confirmations, timetables of your plans, etc.

I just recently discovered this app, and it is amazing. But sadly I haven’t been able to properly use it to its full functionality yet since I’m still in the very early stages of planning for Japan. Literally, all we have figured out for sure is that we will be there 24 December to 4 January. So yeah. But I definitely know it will be a great place to keep all of my travel info in one place when we are abroad.


There are many many more tools out there that I didn’t mention here, these are just my favorites I have come across. If you have any faves you think I’d like, let me know!

Happy wanderlusting, friends!

5 Comments

  • Sierra

    Such great trip planning tools! I use a lot of the same resources when planning out my trips, and it helps so much! Very helpful post for those looking to research and organize before traveling 🙂

    August 13, 2017 at 5:47 am Reply
  • Amanda Blizzard

    These are awesome tips!!! Sadly, for some unfortunate reason, I couldn’t get Google my maps to work for me! I’m currently using roadtrippers instead, and it’s doing an OK job. But I’ll have to give gmm another try!

    August 13, 2017 at 6:17 am Reply
  • Cherene Saradar

    I do many of these things too! How did I not know about personalized Google maps? I’m so getting on that! Thanks for great tips!

    August 13, 2017 at 7:38 am Reply
  • Ana

    Found some useful tips on your post. Always on the look for things like this!I had now idea about google my trips and trip it. These are going on my sticky notes 🙂

    August 13, 2017 at 8:52 am Reply
  • Bernadette Jackson

    I love TripIt: really useful. Thanks for the heads up on GoogleMyMaps; I really need to give that one a try, and there are a few trips we’re considering for next year that will let me try it out/sit drooling at the thought of adventures to come.

    Great post – thanks for sharing.

    August 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm Reply
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