You’ve got big plans for Spring Break. We’re talking flight, car, lodging and amusement— the whole shebang. Cut yourself some slack and bring in reinforcements. With so many sites offering travel help, finding the real deals, scooping the hidden gems and, with kids, locating the nearest bathroom, can be a journey in itself (that little gnome makes it look so easy!). Luckily, we did the research for you and compiled the best online sources to help you book, plan and schedule your trip so that you can enjoy the pure family moments.
photo: Nate Grigg via flickr
Booking the Trip
For predicting sales and finding cheap flights, we rounded up the top three sites you should always have in your bookmarks when it comes to starting your travel plans.
Kayak.com is one of the tried and true search engines for the cheapest flights when you have a destination in mind. Their website is incredibly easy to use, especially with their new TRIPS tab which allows you to create a trip, track prices and stayed organized. Our favorite feature is the price predictor. How accurate is it? Let’s just say we’ve learned never to ignore it when it says to buy now. Web & app versions available.
Tip: Download the app to keep your itinerary handy. It’s so much faster than searching your inbox. You can even do your flight searches in the app (but unfortunately not purchase).
Matrix ITA Software
Powered by Google, this is what sites like Airfarewatchdog, Hitlist and Flightdeals use to find the cheapest flights. It’s most ideal for immediate travel (within the same month), but if you plan ahead, you can also look at prices months in advance. Flying tip: Flying on a Wednesday is always the cheapest.
Tip: Airfarewatchdog is a great tool for families who love to travel to new locations. Type in your home airport and sign up for their daily email alerts which informations you of the cheapest flight available.
If you have date and time flexibility, try to bid for your tickets through Priceline. Sometimes you can get up to 40% off, or save up to $150 off per ticket (which for a family of four is a HUGE deal). Be aware that you can’t change the dates or get a refund with this deal.
The sites mentioned above will all help with booking accommodations, so we decided to dig into more unique experiences.
This is the mecca of local living. As this company slowly gets more and more popular, we recommend booking months in advance to secure a good location (especially for big cities like New York or San Francisco). We love how the filter options are incredibly diverse. After all, having wifi and being kid friendly are very important. Web and app versions available.
Tip: Experiment with the filter. Spending $20 more on a home that includes breakfast could be more beneficial in the long run. A house that offers parking could make your night when it’s pouring rain.
What do hotels do with that extra room no one is using for the night? Rent it out at a discount of course! Thanks to HotelTonight, a user-friendly app, you can easily find nearby accommodations at a discounted rate.
photo: Nate Grigg via flickr
Preparing for Your Trip
Streamline your travel even more (see ya, pen and paper!) by checking out these apps that help ease your organization pains or TSA worries.
Make a list and check it twice with PackPoint. Their slogan is Never Forget Your ____ Again! For families with diaper bags, baby food and kid-curated fun packs, PackPoint one-ups their usefulness by ten-fold. Tell PackPoint where you’re going, what you’re doing and who you’re going with and it’ll tell you exactly what to bring. Hiking in the rain? Maybe bring 2 pairs of socks. You can even share your list with friends. Score!
Yep, believe it or not, this app is pretty family-friendly. It eases the struggles of plane transportation by telling you how busy the check-in line is, whether there are airplane delays and even offers user-generated content that let’s you know what won’t make it through security. Your kid’s ninja stars? MyTSA says leave them at home.
Don’t lose your plane ticket, printed itinerary or travel plans ever again. TripIt boasts that it’s the travel app that keeps up with you, but it’s really more like the secretary you wish your personal life had. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll send you a master itinerary back so everything is in one lovely place. The best part? Offline accessibility.
photo: Philippe Putt via flickr
While You’re Traveling
Even if you’re a bonafide planner with everything laid out back to back, you could still use a little help. From saving time to saving money, these apps are must-haves for any traveler.
Where to go, what to see and how to get there? Tripomatic is a sightseeing guide that lets you plan out your day down to the walking routes. After you fill in your destinations, Tripomatic will even give you an estimate of how long it takes to go where (and even how long your day will be). Don’t have specific plans? Tripomatic’s map will show you the most popular destinations. Offline map available.
App: Apple & GooglePlay
The king of food reviews no matter what city you’re in. Sort by rating, distance and even whether or not the place is good for kids. Use the site to make lists, bookmark eateries and make reservations. Just remember to call the restaurant during holidays or odd hours to see if they’re really open as the restaurants themselves don’t always manage their Yelp page.
Do you eat with your eyes? Then Foodspotting is the app for you. Based more on pictures than reviews, Foodspotting lets you explore by food and cuisine.
Sit or Squat
You’ve scrolled down this far just for this paragraph. Alleviate those bathroom pains (literally and figuratively) with Sit or Squat, an app that tells you where the closest bathroom is. You can even filter bathrooms by reviews and ratings, but really in real life terms, this just means, “How badly do you need to go?”
What does a photo app have to do with anything? Well. Everything. Capture moments and post them to Instagram for a nicely put together portfolio. Geo-tag your location and see what else people have done or tried out. Patience is key with Instagram as there are so many pictures to sort through. You can even get travel inspiration by following local celebrities or foodies.
Tip: Hashtag #redtricycle in your photos. We’d love to travel through your eyes!
What are your techie travel tips? Share them in the Comments below!