May 15 2011

Travel Planning Tools

It seems that I’m always planning a vacation or getaway or dream trip of some sort.  Some come to fruition, and others don’t, but I really enjoy the planning.

Whether planning a day trip or a road trip, I have a number of tools that I use regularly.

Internet: I have a number of websites that I turn to, including

  • Google maps, for calculating routes and mileage when driving
  • Google search for “CityName Visitors” to quickly find the site for the local or state tourism agency, where I browse online guides or order paper materials
  • Roadside America for quirky stops along the way
  • Six Suitcase Travel when looking for overnight accommodations for our family of six, which doesn’t fit neatly into most hotel rooms

Travel Guides and Maps:  We’ve seldom had to use our AAA membership for roadside assistance, but I find the annual fee more than worthwhile when considering hotel and other discounts and the free maps and Tourbook guides.  I get a Tourbook for every region we consider visiting, and my kids love to pore over the maps.

Nationwide Guidebooks: Once we have a destination in place, I pull out my national guidebooks to see what interesting things I can find at our destination and along the way.  These include:

Local Guidebooks: Because many of our trips are right here in Minnesota, I’ve amassed a good collection of local guides.  If we’re traveling elsewhere, I don’t hesitate to buy an Off the Beaten Path or other helpful family guidebook for our destination.  My Minnesota guides include:

When we get home, we put a pin in our family map for each place that we stopped and did something interesting along the way.  We still have a lot of ground to cover, don’t we?

Note: Links to books above are Amazon affiliate links.  Some books are no longer available for purchase; check your local library for availability.

What are your favorite vacation-planning tools?


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Published by at 11:27 am under Family Travel
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3 comments so far

3 Comments to “Travel Planning Tools”

  1. Heidi on 15 May 2011 at 11:48 am

    I love the idea of a family map! Time to start one at our house, too.

    My favorite local book is published by our Audubon Society. It has descriptions and maps of local hiking trails… we’ve made it a goal to visit all of them. Free and fun!

  2. Marina K. Villatoro on 15 May 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great advice, I can’t believe how many local guides there are:)

    I am an internet junkie. I start by contacting the places and asking for recommendations.

    Then I move on to Tripadvisor and other sources similar.

    But I have to say, I find the most info for our trips via bloggers and contacting them, if they traveled there or live there.
    Marina K. Villatoro´s last [type] ..Picture This! What a View…

  3. [...] Researching a destination is one of my favorite parts of planning the trip. I order visitor’s guides from our destination and check out travel guides and AAA Tourbooks.  I scour websites to find interesting things to do along the way that I may not have heard of before.  I’ll pile up as many books as I can find, then sit with a pad of paper and a pencil and jot down absolutely everything that looks interesting.  Much of it will be weeded out later due to time, cost, weather, or closures, but I like to start with as many possibilities as I can. [...]

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