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It is hard to believe that with the technology, social media, and Google that there are vacation planning tools out there that are not already well known. I mean, most people know about Trip Advisor or Yelp, and almost everyone knows about the various travel booking sites like Priceline or Hotwire. But believe it or not, there are some vacation planning tools out there that most people don’t really know about…and they can really give you an awesome edge on your vacation planning. When you want to make sure to make the most of your vacation, be sure to use these vacation planning tools.
- Your local library. Most libraries have a ton of travel books and magazines. Use them to discover new travel destinations, learn about things to do in different areas, insider secrets and more. If you are planning a trip to a National Park or State Park (or even just camping in a certain region) you can find tons of books on trails and other must-do activities. Heading to a theme park- you can usually find something about insider tips, best travel practices, or even just fun nearby activities for a non-park day. The library has amazing resources and they are FREE!
- The Chamber of Commerce. Sounds like something political and official right? Well the Chamber of Commerce is an amazing tool for planning a vacation. Once you have settled on a vacation spot, contact the area’s Chamber of Commerce and ask for tourist information. They can let you know about special events happening during your visit, lodging, area attractions, and so much more. Often times they will send you brochures as well. Some even have an email newsletter you can subscribe to. Best part is, many are now online, so you don’t even need to call or write for the information.
- Twitter. Mike always makes fun of twitter, but believe it or not, it can be an excellent tool for planning your vacations. Besides just being able to tweet out and ask for responses, you can often get quick responses from the PR for different attractions, hotels, and even the different states’ official twitter accounts. That is right, a lot of cities and states have official twitter accounts and these are a great way to reach out to them before and during your vacation. You can also often find their website (for the Chamber of Commerce, the hotel, etc) right in their twitter profile.
- Pinterest. Okay, maybe you are using it if you found this post through there (or even if you didn’t). But if you haven’t tried pinterest for vacation planning, you should. One simple search of the location you are going can introduce you to a world of information, reviews, and more! The thing is, travel bloggers obviously review places and there are pins for that, but a lot of times even your favorite lifestyle blogger (wink, wink) may have travel posts that are pinned over there. You never know. I am amazed at how much good information I have found on Pinterest for our upcoming summer vacation.
- Word of Mouth. Sometimes we like to keep our vacations a little hush hush. Maybe it is for security reasons (we don’t want people to know we will be gone) or because we don’t want to brag, but if you just open up a little bit about your summer plans and vacations, you might find you can learn a lot of cool things from people you know. Mentioning to someone you are “thinking of going to ____” might spark a conversation about some cool things they found to do in that area. You never know. I have had several people mention they are going to Disneyland, and I share with them some cool things in the area, or secrets, or thoughts that I haven’t even shared on this blog, because they are easier to share face to face, or they aren’t worth an entire post, or whatever. Friends are who suggested the Children’s Museum in Las Vegas. Yes, I could have found it online, but it was hearing how much our friends enjoyed it (so much so they bought annual memberships even though they live in SoCal) that made us decide to give it a try. Sometimes the best hidden little gems are things that you might pass over online, but hearing someone else talk about them makes you decide to give them a try.
- Deal sites. Michaelyn from The Mousekatools Mom points out that Living Social and Groupon are great for planning vacations. Not just by checking out their travel deals (although those can be awesome too), but also log on and type in the zip code an see what local deals come up. Maybe there is something for a great ropes course, or a local spa. You never know what you might find.
- YouTube. YouTube is a great way to not only search different locations on channels dedicated to travel, but also to get your family geared up for your vacation. Search Disneyland videos on YouTube and you can find everything from ride videos to vloggers Disneyland vacation vlogs. You can find the same for non-theme park locations as well. Watching these helps get my family excited, helps us find things me way want to do in the area, and it also sometimes gives us some insider secrets or cool facts about the location we didn’t know before.
It is amazing how many little fun side trips, attractions, tips and more we have found using these sites. Do you have any vacation planing tools you think should be added to the list? Leave a comment down below letting me know so others (myself included) can try it out.
photo credit: Merging the Collection at Kresge Business Administration Library at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (July 18, 2013) via photopin (license)