Trip Planning – Research Resources

A few weeks ago I wrote a post talking about how I was starting to research and plan a trip to Italy for Jason and I in March.  I initially had been planning on looking for a nice organized tour group that fit the dates we could travel and was visiting the cities we wanted to see and BAM! all the work would be done!

As I started researching though I wasn’t finding a tour that sounded *perfect* and I was finding a lot of other things I wanted to do that weren’t included in any tour – paddle boarding through the canals of Venice…biking through vineyards in Tuscany…food tours…pasta making classes…(you get the point!).

So, I decided to plan our own custom trip that would perfect for us!

That means we get to see and do all the things we want to do, it also means I need to ALL the research and planning.  For EVERYTHING!

Hotels…tours…how to get between cities…how to get from the train station in each city to the hotel…what sites to see…how to see them best…SO MUCH TO PLAN!

But, the good news is, I am such a planning/ research nerd and I LOVE doing this stuff!

So far I’ve planned out our entire itinerary (it was like putting together a puzzle to get in everything we wanted to do, and yes, spreadsheets were involved!), booked flights (found round trip non-stop from Boston – YAY!) and researched and booked our hotels for each city!

Since I’ve been slightly obsessed with this trip planning for the past few weeks I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite trip planning resources in case you’re planing a trip in the future!

Enjoy & happy trip planning!

Pinterest

You may be familiar with Pinterest, but have you ever thought to use it for trip planning?

This is actually where I started.  Awhile back I had started a board called “Trip to Italy” and every once in awhile I’d pin things that I saw that I thought we’d like to see/ do on a trip to Italy.

When I actually started to research this trip I searched Pinterest and found some great posts with tips, tour reviews and restaurant recommendations – Pinterest is actually where I found the picture of the SUP tours in Venice!

Italy Pinterest

Pinterest is a great resource for planning a trip to keep all your ideas and things you want to do in once place so you can find them when you get into the nitty gritty of the planning!

You can view my Italy Trip Pinterest board HERE!

Guidebooks

While the internet is amazing, there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned guidebook.

I love having a hardcopy of information that I can mark up, highlight and flag.  Plus it’s a handy go-to especially when you’re traveling internationally and may not always have internet access!

Italy Guidebooks

I usually just go with 1 guidebook, but I ended up with 2 for this trip and I’m glad I did because they are REALLY different, but both full of useful information!  (Plus, one includes a discount code for a tour company I was planning on booking a few day tours through!)

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is my go-to resource for reviews on EVERYTHING travel related – hotels, restaurants, tours, etc.  Honestly, my only problem with TripAdvisor is that there is SO much information and SO many reviews you can easily get sucked in and it gets overwhelming – I swear I have read the reviews for every hotel in all of Italy!

TripAdvisor

One thing I found helpful with using TripAdvisor to research hotels is that it showed prices for the dates I was interest in through several different booking sites so I was able to make sure I got the best prices!

TripIt

If you don’t use TripIt when you’re traveling you are totally missing out on an amazing free organizational tool!

All you have to do is set up an account, start a new trip and then as you book things you can either add them to your itinerary yourself, or you just forward the confirmation e-mails to TripIt and it automatically adds it for you along with all the details!

This is a screen shot of my TripIt itinerary for the Marine Corps Marathon:

TripIt

When you click on each activity it brings up your confirmation #, contact information, maps and more!  Plus, you can share plans with other travelers on your trips or just invite others to view your trip.

Honestly, I don’t know how I would stay organized on my trips without this!

People!

Just ask!  If you’re traveling there’s sure to be some friends, family or social media contacts that have been there before you and would be more than happy to share their experience!  (Thanks to those who commented on my last Trip Planning post with their Italy recommendations!) 

What are your favorite trip planning resources?

What is your “bucket list” place to visit?

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11 thoughts on “Trip Planning – Research Resources

    • Oh my goodness, a few friends introduced me to TripIt a few years ago and I LOVE it! It keeps all my trip plans, reservations and itinerary in one place, so helpful!

  1. I’d love to go to Spain for my next international trip. I have no clue when it would happen though. Darn work takes up my time and bills take my money :-p

  2. I am so excited to hear about your trip plans! I love all these resources too but haven’t ever used TripIt so I’ll have to check that out. One way we cut down on travel books was xeroxing pages…my parents lent us a trails/hiking book and we knew the ones we might do so we just copied those rather than bringing another heavy book. Have fun planning!

  3. I spy Rick!!! He’s my favorite!! Another great place are the forums on fodors.com – you can ask questions, or search for answers. But it can be overwhelming with all the info!!

    • Awesome, I’ll have to check them out! Any other good Rick resources you’d suggest?? I’ve been checking out his website a lot.

      Oh, and do you run when you travel? Wondering if you have any suggestions for finding running routes in different cities!

      • I generally just use Rick’s books and website – although I have been able to go to his travel store (but its in WA, so that doesn’t help you much).

        I don’t always run on vacation – usually because I walk so much during the day! So I don’t really have a good resource for that – I usually check with the hotel when I do want to run.

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